The great African American playwright August Wilson set his cycle of plays in Pittsburgh's once-dynamic neighborhood, the Hill. Students will read a series of Wilson's plays, including Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Fences, and locate them in time and place in African American history. This course is for first-year students with AP or KAP credit in American history or American studies and a critical aspect of the course will be a three-day fieldwork experience in the Hill district of Pittsburgh. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
This course introduces students to the discipline that studies and compares other cultures. Students learn about the main concepts used in anthropology and how anthropologists conduct research, while also discovering how people live in other times and places. Students will learn about theories that provide frameworks for understanding and comparing cultures. Ethnographies descriptions of life in particular places give students factual materials with which to apply and critique such theories. Through this introduction to the study of culture in general, and an exposure to specific cultures, students inevitably come to re-examine some of the premises of their own culture.
This course will examine the emergence of black intellectual life in the United States from the early 19th century to the present. The course will focus on the changing role of black intellectuals as individual figures and political and social leaders. The course also will focus on how slavery, racism and gender discrimination have affected black thought. Works of fiction and films will be used extensively.
Throughout Africa's history, religion and government have been inseparably linked as fundamental elements of society. Authority and achievement, in all spheres of life, are generally based on certain assumptions about the operation of unseen forces and the submission of individuals to a higher power, whether human or divine. Allegiance, civility, and justice are as much religious phenomena as they are political. This seminar examines leading cases of religiously inspired politics--or politically motivated religion--from different places and times in Africa, studying key aspects of the relationship between faith and power and seeking greater understanding of regional variation and historical change in that relationship. A recurring theme is the role of indigenous African beliefs and their interaction with Christian, Islamic, and modern understandings of power. The seminar will culminate with individual research papers by students on topics of particular interest to them. Prerequisite: HIST 145, 146, or permission of instructor.
This course explores the contours of the religious expressions of the African Diaspora in the Americas. It will survey various Orisha traditions in Cuba, Brazil, the United States and Trinidad and Tobago; Regla de Palo and Abakua in Cuba; Kumina in Jamaica; Vodou in Haiti and the United States; Afro-Christian traditions in Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana; and Rastafari in Jamaica and beyond. The course will pay close attention to the social history of these traditions, their understanding of the universe, their social structure and their rituals and ceremonies. This course provides students with an understanding of the formation and history, major beliefs and ceremonies, leadership and community structure and social and cultural significance of these religious traditions.
The primary objective of this advanced seminar is to pursue a comprehensive examination of contemporary issues which determine social stratification in the United States and, thereby, impact public policy and societal values. Some of the topics which may be addressed during the course of a semester are race relations in the United States, gender, work, family, sexuality, poverty and religion. The topics covered from one semester to the next may change radically or not at all, though they will be of importance to any discussion of the institutional forces that govern our society. Enrollment is strictly limited to 14 students. Prerequisite: foundation course in sociology and one mid-level course in sociology or permission of the instructor.