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Author: Hugh Page

AFAM 33302--Faith and the African American Experience

Course Description

This one-credit course will introduce students to the African American faith experience, with particular attention being given to the historical development of spiritualities of liberation in the American Diaspora. Brief lectures and seminar discussions will offer “perspectives” on this rich and heterogeneous tradition from several vantage points within the humanities, social sciences, and theological disciplines.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

  • have a basic understanding of the ways in which scholars define and delimit both the Africana and African American religious experience;

  • be familiar with some of the major primary and secondary resources needed for the study of African American and (to a lesser extent) Africana spiritualities;

  • comprehend the broad sweep of African American religious history from the 16th century C.E. to the present;

  • have a basic understanding of some of the important persons, events, and themes in African American religious history;

  • possess a working knowledge of concepts such as religion, faith, and spirituality, as understood within the larger scholarly arena;

  • be aware of some of the methods used in the study of spirituality as a socio-cultural phenomenon;

  • possess a general knowledge of the role that religious faith -- as concept and cultural reality -- has played in African American life; and

  • be equipped to become active and informed participants in discussions about the role of religious faith in the African American experience and the place that its critical examination occupies within a Catholic liberal arts education.



Required Viewing/Reading

  • This Far by Faith: African American Spiritual Journeys, the PBS series.  In addition to occasional photocopies of selected readings. Students should also consult articles maintained at the PBS website --

  • Williams, Juan and Quinton Dixie (2003). This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience. New York: HarperCollins.

Recommended Reading

  • Franklin, Robert M. (1997). Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the

    American Crisis. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

  • Holmes, Barbara (2004). Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church.

    Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

  • Mitchell, Henry H. (2004). Black Church Beginnings: The Long Hidden Realities of the

    First Years. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

  • Paris, Peter (1995). The Spirituality of African Peoples. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.


Component Percentage
Participation in Seminar Discussions 20%
Weekly Reflection Papers (6) 60%
Final Examination 20%


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