Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

Cognate Fields

Gender & Sexuality

This interdisciplinary area of study focuses on how gender and sexuality intersect with race to shape social understandings of personhood, subjectivity, privilege, and oppression; to inform political ideologies and public policies; and to influence aesthetic and cultural productions. Graduate studies in this cognate field will critically engage methodologies, theories, and concepts from feminist theory, womanist theory, masculinity studies, queer theory, trans studies, critical race theory, and African American studies. Students will examine historically and geographically contingent concepts and understandings of gender, sexuality, and feminism as they evolve across multiple temporal, spatial, and social terrains in the United States and in the African diaspora broadly. Themes explored will include the dimensions of biological racism, slavery, colonialism, diaspora consciousness, multiple genders and sexualities in between cultures and communities, and class difference and inequities of power within communities; global and Third World feminisms; reproductive rights; popular culture; poetics and resistance. This field will engage trans-disciplinary methodologies spanning the social sciences, archival research, historical, and literary modes of enquiry.


Social Justice & Social Movements

The quest for freedom, equality, racial progress, justice, and human rights has been central to the lives of African Americans. This area will provide in-depth analyses of the individual, collective and organizational efforts of African Americans to resist structural racism and inequality. Our commitment to centering the humanity and agency of African Americans leads us to explore a multitude of analytical approaches including ethnographic, historical, statistical, and multi-method analyses. Themes to be explored include reflections on social movements in the United States and the broader African diaspora, coalition development, leadership, public policy, educational studies, business, law, and health disparities. This cognate field also bridges the four pillars of the African American Studies PhD program in the sense that it, too, approaches its subject matter from an interdisciplinary standpoint, and it mobilizes an intersectional critical analysis. It takes seriously the power of community engagement, through the rigorous examination of community-based politics and social activism. The field also acknowledges grassroots organizing through local and international nonprofits as vital, viable career paths, in addition to studying social justice movements globally.


Expressive Arts & Cultures

This field explores the significant contributions, conditions, and influences of African American Expressive Arts and Cultures within local, regional, national, and global contexts. Using appropriate critical methods and theories drawn from cultural, literary, film, and religious studies, feminist, queer, aesthetic and performance theory, this field explores the African diasporic expressive arts and cultures of African American communities. Our approach includes artistic, archival, curatorial, and editorial practices to examine the meaning, production, circulation, and reception of Black music, writing, drama, visual arts, and dance. Students will explore artistic and critical responses to African American expressive arts and vernacular cultures confronting systems of racial inequality, discrimination, and exploitation at the intersections of class, gender, sexuality, and nation. In particular, we are committed to remapping the relationships between creativity and African American freedom struggles reflected in and through social justice movements, as well as fostering the recovery and reexamination of understudied and marginalized figures and features of African American arts and cultural expression.