AAST 262: Black Cultural Studies

Nina Simone with sunflowers in hair in front of a red backdrop

Introduction to approaches, methods, and key debates in the study of Black culture in a transnational and diasporic context.

Centered around Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat’s short story collection Krik? Krak!, this course takes an immersive and collaborative approach into understanding the ineffable, discernable and situated everyday dynamics that constitute “Black performance.”


Danticat’s heart-wrenching depictions of Haitian migration and border crossing practices critically juxtapose genres, concepts, and aesthetics of Black and African diaspora performance, to shed light on crushing global power structures and immigration policies confronted by Black and Brown people and how these bodies maneuver through the risks and rewards of being in diaspora. Examining the author’s work, therefore, will engage course participants in evaluating how various Black movements are culturally, historically and politically routed.


Additional required reading and visual materials will draw inspiration from Krik? Krak! and, as such, will privilege Black feminist, womanist, and diaspora studies theories. Class workshops will value a number of artistic tools and embodied techniques Black folk use to create a visual language to tell stories.


No experience is necessary. Yet students will develop multiple projects, reflecting on the relationship between Krik? Krak!, course materials, workshops, discussions, and their own realities. The class will culminate in a final group presentation that might be open to the public.