AFR 320
Dangerous Bodies: Black Womanhood, Sexuality & Popular Culture Spring 2023
Division II
Cross-listed WGSS 320 / AMST 320 / AFR 320

Class Details

Whether presented as maternal saints, divas, video vixens, or bitches, black female celebrities navigate a tumultuous terrain in popular culture. This course considers the ways that black female celebrities such as Oprah, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, BeyoncĂ©, Janet Jackson, and Michelle Obama negotiate womanhood and sexuality, and the popular landscapes through which we witness that negotiation. It also engages contemporary black feminist scholarship, which most frequently presents the presentation of black female bodies in popular media forms as exploitive. We will review historical stereotypes of black women in popular media forms, discuss the history of the “politics of respectability” within black culture, engage black feminist responses to these types, and examine theoretical approaches to assess social constructions of womanhood and sexuality. We will also consider provocative questions relevant to discussions of contemporary black sexual politics: Should we view these women as feminists? Are they merely representatives of cultural commodification and control of black women’s bodies? Do these women best exemplify the reiteration of problematic characterizations? Are they positive models for demonstrating female empowerment, agency, or “fierceness?” This course explores the histories of representation of black female figures in popular culture, and in so doing, troubles contemporary considerations of black womanhood and sexuality.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 15
Class#: 3042
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on attendance/participation, short response papers, and a midterm and final portfolio
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies majors and Africana Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 320 Division II AMST 320 Division II AFR 320 Division II
Attributes: AFR Core Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora

Class Grid

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