African American Social, Political and Religious Thought (RS2203)

Fall 2010
Prof. James A. Noel, SFTS
Thurs. 11-2 PM
CDSP 116 (GTU)
1-415-847-6532 (cell)

This is an intensive reading course in primary nineteenth and twentieth century African American social, political, and religious texts beginning with the Spirituals, Slave Narratives, Abolitionist Speeches and including contemporary historical and phenomenological approaches to African American thought and experience. The approach employed in this course can be ascertained through the reading list below.

Course Objectives
Through a final term paper (12-15 page typed double-spaced) student will demonstrate knowledge of key texts and ideas in the African American intellectual tradition and relate it to critical theological reflection on contemporary issues in American society and church.

Required Reading and Schedule:

Week 1/Sept 9th: Introduction to the Course:
James A. Noel, “African American Religious Thought,” in Encyclopedia of American Religion.

Weeks2/Sept. 16th /23rd : Lyrical Embodiment and Expression:
John Lovell, Black Song: The Forge and the Flame: How the Afro-American Spiritual was Hammered Out (Paragon House Publishers: 1986).

Weeks 3-4/Sept 30th /Oct. 7th : A History of Religions Approach:
Charles H. Long, Significations: Signs, Symbols and Images in the Interpretation of Religion.

Weeks 5-6/Sept. 30th &
Weeks 5-6/Oct. 14th /21st : Narrative Testimony and Articulation:
John Blassingame, ed., Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews and Autobiographies (Louisiana State U. Press: 1977).

October 28th: READING WEEK

Weeks 7-8: November 4th /11th : Phenomenological Description and Theological Construction:
Matthew V. Johnson, The Tragic Vision in African American Religion (Palgrave Press: 2010).
 James A. Noel, Chapter 4, “Being, Nothingness, and the ‘Signification of Silence’ in the African American Religious Consciousness,” and Chapter 8, ‘The Meaning of the Moan and Significance of the Shout in Black Worship and Culture and Memory and Hope,” in Black Religion and the Imagination of Matter in the Atlantic World (Palgrave Press: 2009).

Weeks 9-10:Nov. 18th /Dec. 2nd: Political Reflection, Social Analysis & Advocacy:
Howard Brotz, ed., African-American Social & Political Thought (Transaction Publishers: 2009).

Week11/December 9th: Early Black Feminism/Womanism:
Charles Lemert, ed., The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper: Essays, Letters and Papers (Rowman & Littlefield:1998).

Week 12/December 16th: The Enigmatic Jean Toomer: Literary Innovation, Spiritual Transcendence & Radical Integrationalism:

Jean Toomer, Cane, “Blue Meridan,” “The Experience.”