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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2004

AMS 315 • Civil Rights and Black Power: History, Memory, and Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
27757 to 27758 Multiple Sections

Course Description

When most people remember the Civil Rights movement, their first thoughts typically turn to central figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., or to specific events such as the 1963 March on Washington or the attempts to integrate Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. When people remember the Black Power movement, it is often through images like a black fist in the air or Angela Davis’s Afro. This interdisciplinary American Studies course seeks to investigate the ways in which both individuals and the nation as a whole—through our shared popular culture of newspapers, magazines, photographs, television, documentaries films, and most importantly, music —remember and historicize these interrelated social movements. The class will both explore and complicate what we will refer to as the “meta-narrative” of Civil Rights in an attempt to understand more clearly the relationship between history and memory, and to reveal the connections between Civil Rights and Black Power from the 1950s to the present.

Since this is a writing component course, in addition to close, daily readings of assigned texts and critical engagement with those texts through discussion and presentations, students will also be required to synthesize and analyze the material through various in-class and take home writing assignments. The course will be divided into the following four units, and will consist of a combination of lectures, class discussions, and occasional group work. UNIT 1: EXPLORING THE META-NARRATIVE: We will kick of the semester with an investigation into the meta-narrative of Civil Rights and Black Powers and the ways in which individuals remember the movement. UNIT 2: CHALLENGING THE META-NARRATIVE: After having established the meta-narrative of these movements, we will investigate a wide range of lesser-known figures and often ignored grassroots campaigns of the Civil Rights movement through a critical investigation of both history and memory. UNIT 3: FROM CIVIL RIGHTS TO BLACK POWER? We will interrogate the declension model of Civil Rights history through critical readings and discussions of recent works that have shown that connections between Civil Rights and Black Power existed well before the late 60s. UNIT 4: THE LEGACY OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND BLACK POWER: We will end the semester by considering the significance of these movements within the broader history of the nation and the ramifications of these movements for our contemporary context.


Manning Marable, Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990 (2nd edition). Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991. Course packet including excerpts from oral histories, autobiographies, speeches, and memoirs


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