African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project
Teaching Resources


Religion 320
African-American Religious History

Fall Term 1998–99, MW 10–10:50am, McCosh 64
Professor Albert J. Raboteau

Course Outline

This course offers students an opportunity to read, reflect upon, discuss, and write about the religious history and culture of African-Americans, paying particular attention to ritual, music, literature, and creative expression. Folktales, blues, spirituals, gospel music, the chanted sermon, worship traditions, and magical-medicinal practices among black Americans will be examined through literary texts, visual presentations, and film.

Book List:

The following required texts are available for purchase at Micawber Books on Nassau Street and for library use at the reserve desk in Firestone Library:

William L. Andrews, Sisters of the Spirit (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986)

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (New York: Dell, 1983)

W. E. B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, ed. David W. Blight and Robert Gooding-Williams (New York: Bedford Books, 1997)

Vincent Carretta, ed., Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the 18th Century (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996)

Laënnec Hurbon, Voodoo: Search for the Spirit (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995)

Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow (New York: Dutton, 1983)

William D. Piersen, Black Legacy: America’s Hidden Heritage (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993)

In addition several articles (marked with asterisk below) can be accessed on Princeton Netscape.

Weekly Lecture Topics and Assignments:

Sep. 21     African Religions in the Atlantic World

Hurbon, Voodoo: Search for the Spirit
“Bahia: Africa in the Americas” (videotape)

Sep. 28     Unchained Voices: The Black Atlantic

Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano in Carretta, ed., Unchained Voices, pp. 59–71, 185–318.

Oct. 5     Independent African Christianity

John Marrant, George Liele and David George in Carretta, ed., Unchained Voices, pp. 110–133, 325–350
Jarena Lee in Andrews, Sisters of the Spirit, pp. 25–48

Oct. 12     Slavery and the Formation of American Culture

Piersen, Black Legacy, pp. 3–117, 156–189

Oct. 19     Emancipation and Its Aftermath: Interpreting African-American Culture

W. E. B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk

Oct. 26     Midterm Examination

Nov. 9     Women Evangelists and Gospel Song

“Say Amen Somebody” (videotape)
*Dargan and Bullock, “Willie Mae Ford Smith”
Zilpha Elaw and Julia Foote in Andrews, Sisters of the Spirit, pp. 49–234

Nov. 16     The Performed Word: The Experience of Conversion

Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain

Nov. 23     Religious Options: Judaism, Islam, and Roman Catholicism

Nov. 30 Freedom Struggle

“Eyes on the Prize: Beginnings” (video)

Dec. 7     Anamnesis: Recovering the Past

Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow

Dec. 14     Recapitulation: Race and the Search for Common Ground

*Wills, “The Central Themes of American Religious History”

Requirements:

Evaluation will be based upon the following recluirements: attendance at lectures, participation in precepts, a midterm examination, a final examination, and a short written report.


Copyright © 2006 The Trustees of Amherst College and
African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project
Amherst College #2269, P. O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002–5000
aardoc@amherst.edu

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