Africana Studies

At Pitzer College, Field Groups (similar to a discipline or department) organize major requirements and courses.

The Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies (IDAS) offers a multidisciplinary curriculum that examines the experiences of people of the African diaspora from a liberal arts perspective. Courses accommodate the needs of majors and nonmajors, providing significant preparation for careers in education, social work, public policy, law, medicine, business, international relations and advanced research.

Sample Courses

B(L)ack to Nature: Poetry and TheoryAFRI 120 PZ

This course centers Blackness, nature, and gender in 20thC African American poetry. Through the study of poets Lucille Clifton, Ntozake Shange, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, June Jordan, Claudia Rankine, students explore aesthetic strategies of and practice writing free verse, vignette, haiku, choreopoem, and blues. Coupled with readings in Black feminist geographies, earth histories, and ecologies studies students engage with critical questions of representation, space, and embodiment in 20thC African American poetry.   

Octavia E. Butler: Wild Seed to Earth Seed AFRI 110 AF

Octavia E. Butler invites readers to consider critical questions about ecologies, communities, hierarchies, love, sexuality, race, gender, colonization, slavery, home, displacement, immigration, imprisonment, self-reliance, trans-species cooperation and hybridity, to name a few. Butler raises questions about the power of narrative and the parameters of Black feminist and African diaspora literatures as she innovates sci-fi genres often blending the African diaspora historical with the Afrofuturistic. 

Wokeness: African American Social Theory SOC 109 PZ

How have African Americans contributed to sociology? This course seeks to provide an overview of early 20th century to more contemporary African American contributors to the discipline such as St. Clair Drake, Dorothy Roberts, bell hooks, and Robert Staples. Moreover, students will become familiar with how race, sex, and class shaped these theoretical writings and expanded socio-cultural understanding of African Americans in the U.S.


Laura Harris
Professor of English and World Literature and Africana Studies
[email protected]

Outcomes describe specific knowledge, abilities, values, and attitudes students should demonstrate

  1. Understand and appreciate the multi- and interdisciplinary nature of the field.
  2. Demonstrate their understanding of the major issues, questions, and debates driving theory and research in the discipline through written and oral discourse, particularly the central role of race and its intersectional relationship to other socially constructed categories, such as gender, class, and sexual orientation, in the histories and lived experience of people of African descent.
  3. Employ acceptable methods of inquiry in order to conduct research.
  4. Critically evaluate scholarship in the discipline search.

Assessment of student achievement:

  1. Performance in Africana Studies courses.
  2. Completion of the required number of breadth courses and the required number of courses in the chosen field of concentration, e.g. humanities; social sciences, arts.
  3. Successful completion of a senior exercise, i.e. a thesis; a project; or a comprehensive examination.
  4. Feedback from recent graduates about their current activities, e.g. employment; graduate or professional school; Teach for America; major honors, such as a Fulbright Fellowship.

Education, social work, public policy, law, medicine, business, international relations and advanced research.