9 courses to learn about Black history + present and future

Black History Month kicked off Feb. 1 — a time to celebrate Black Americans’ contributions to our country — but we don’t have to limit it to a month. Portland State is lucky to be home to one of the few institutions of higher ed in the Pacific Northwest that offers a degree in Black Studies. Black Studies explores the lived experiences of African and Black people historically, presently and into the future and their significance in shaping politics, culture, the economy and society.

Here are nine courses offered in spring term that focus on African and Black life.

The Black Arts Movement (ARH 399)

This upper-division course examines the political and cultural contributions of Black American artists during the Black Arts and Black Power movements of the 1960s and 1970s. While the emphasis of the course will be on the visual arts, other art forms that were central to the movement including poetry, literature, and music, as well as historical and cultural texts, will also be examined. Additionally, the course examines the varying artistic and political approaches taken up by artists within their respective locales, paying special attention to the contributions of Black women to these efforts. (Online)

Legacies of Black Arts Movement (ARH 399)

This upper-division course traces the cultural impact of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s on contemporary forms of African American cultural expression. During the Black Arts Movement Black artists and literary figures created works of art that spoke directly to the “needs and aspirations of Black America.” They viewed art and culture as a means of promoting a liberated Black identity and as a space to explore issues pertinent to the Black community. Today, Black artists and writers continue to use their work to center Black experiences. Using a variety of cultural texts, this course will investigate the influence of the Black Arts Movement on the formation of Black visual culture in the 21st century. (In-person)

Intro to Black Studies (BST 202)

Get an overview of African, African American, Afro-Latin@ and Caribbean studies and the historical and theoretical underpinnings of Black Studies and interdisciplinary fields of study. (Online)

*Fulfills Race and Ethnic Studies Requirement (domestic)

Darrell Millner started teaching in PSU’s Black Studies department in the 1970s. He’s teaching Intro to Oregon’s African American History this spring.

Intro to Oregon’s African American History (BST 299)

This course gives you an intro to the Black experience in Oregon history, from the slavery controversy in the state’s conception through contributions of Black Oregonians to the state’s growth, Black migration during WWII, the Vanport Flood, and legislation governing Black status in Oregon. (In-person)

Issues in African American Education (BST 316)

Get an historical overview and contemporary analysis of legal issues related to the U.S. education system and African Americans, including public and private education, community control of schools, citizen involvement, alternative education forms, school desegregation and resegregation. (Online)

*Fulfills Race and Ethnic Studies Requirement (domestic)

Film, Music Videos & Design: Tracing the Routes and Roots of Contemporary African and African American Culture (BST 399)

Africa’s past, histories, cultures and mythologies are increasingly gaining popularity in the West. Beyoncé’s Black is King and Marvel’s Black Panther highlight the latest chapter of the modern history of Africa’s cultural production. This interdisciplinary course is a survey of contemporary African and African American culture with a focus on film, music videos and production design. The aim of the course is to consider the aesthetics that situate the African narratives in the wider trans-national and world. (Hybrid)

Black Business Experience (BST 410)

Learn more about the historical, political and social experiences of Blacks doing business in the U.S. (Online)

Black Cinema: 1970s (BST 425)

Examine the treatment of Black themes, issues and characterization during the decade of the 1970s in the cinema industry, with particular attention on the genre of the Blaxploitation film as an industry response to the rapidly shifting social and racial dynamics of American culture as the Civil Rights era concluded. This is an upper-division course. (In-person)

Anatomy of Film: Daughters of the Dust (FILM 384U)

This course will provide a focused study of the career of renowned director Julie Dash, best known for her 1991 feature film Daughters of the Dust. Under appreciated by the major film establishments of its time, this film has come to be understood as not only one of the greatest achievements of American independent film, but an essential foundational work in Black women’s independent and experimental cinema. (In-person)

*Fulfills Race and Ethnic Studies Requirement (domestic)




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