Research Seminar: Politics and Cultures of the Black Freedom Struggle
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-ACWB205-ACS
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; Cultural Studies;
dr. L.G.M. Visser-Maessen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L.G.M. Visser-Maessen
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. L.G.M. Visser-Maessen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L.G.M. Visser-Maessen
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2021
PER 1-PER 2  (30/08/2021 to 30/01/2022)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
By the end of this course you will be able to:
  1. indicate and explain the relationship between the political and cultural dimensions of the U.S.-based Black freedom struggle in the 20th and 21st centuries, that is, how cultures and internal struggles within the Black American community impact its politics and expressions of resistance and vice versa;
  2. connect these to a transnational context and the study of ‘Black Europe’;
  3. analyze Black-owned cultural products and expressions, such as film, from a historical, cultural, and political perspective;  
  4. draw on your knowledge of academic arguments from different disciplines to discuss and explain developments within African American history and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries;
  5. have in-depth knowledge of the main and most recent developments and insights in the field of Black Studies / African American Studies;
  6. find, evaluate, and discuss academic sources on the topic of African American / Black culture and history;
  7. define and position yourself within academic debates (in the field of Black Studies) in your own words and to relate secondary and primary sources to such debates.   
This course will explore the intersections of politics and culture in the history of the U.S.-based Black Freedom Struggle of the 20th and 21st centuries. The seminars will revolve around case studies that explore central themes in the history of the Black community’s struggle for equality through the lens of several African American activists and other prominent figures. Themes include the African Diaspora and the meaning of citizenship; intersections of race and gender; class and social/economic justice; strategies for social change such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s community mobilizing tradition and Bob Moses’s community organizing tradition; the question of (non-)violence; leadership models and iconography; the use of cultural products and expressions—such as film and music—as tools of activism; the cultures and politics of remembering; activism amidst the ‘colorblind’ ideologies that have come to characterize race in the 21st century; and interconnections with and significance for understanding ‘Black Europe.’

Throughout the course students will be encouraged to explore the junctures of academic disciplines and debates through class discussions and participation assignments. A final research project will be employed to test students’ research skills and conceptual understanding of main themes in African American / Black history, politics, and culture and their treatment in academic circles, and students’ ability to apply these to a case study of their own choosing.


Presumed foreknowledge
Students must have passed the courses Academic Skills and Analysis of Text, Music and Image.
Test information


Required materials
To be announced

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Continuous Assessment (participation assignments)
Test weight50
Test typeAssignment
OpportunitiesBlock PER 2

Minimum grade

Final Research Assignment (
Test weight50
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 2, Block PER 3

Minimum grade