AAST 496:
History of Black
Radical thought


Course Description


The purpose of this course is to provide you with a grounding in the debates, questions, and literatures that make up the black radical tradition. The political theorist Cedric Robinson defined the tradition as “a program for revolutionary change” emerging from the “cross fertilization” distilled from anticolonial and revolutionary struggles of Africa, the Caribbean, and  Africa.” He went on to state that the black radical tradition is “a culture of liberation,” one that crosses “the familiar bounds of social and historical narrative.” The course uses this understanding to come to terms with histories of anti-racism, feminism, queer liberation, and Marxism. In doing so, the purpose of the course is to give you a sense of how black radical traditions addressed diverse issues and concerns and connected struggles from different parts of the world. In the end, you will hopefully see black radical traditions as sites that will not only help you make sense of the past but assist you in comprehending the present and the future as well. If you are an activist, artist, or budding scholar, the course is designed to help you produce a  more historically and theoretically informed practice. 

More about this class!

Please click on image below:

Jacob Lawrence : Toussaint L'Ouverture and Legend of John Brown Series
Roderick Ferguson
Professor of African American Studies & Gender and Women's Studies

Contact Info

Office: 1221UH
Email: rfergus@uic.edu

Curriculum Vitae


What Does African American American Studies Mean to You?

The definition for black studies that I use comes from CLR James. When the question was put to him he said black studies was a critique of western civilization. I like that definition because it captures just how broad the topic of black studies is. History of empires, slavery, industrialization, post and neoliberalism. It really captures the global aspects of the field. It means assessing the ways in which not only race and class, but gender and sexuality, play in the critique of western civilization.

Course Information

3 or 4 hours. Prerequisite(s): 
consent of the instructor.

Requirements Met


When is it Offered?