At Williams College, Africana Studies is a thriving interdisciplinary academic concentration that critically and systematically examines the cultures, histories, and experiences of people of African descent globally, and that grounds students in their multiple ways of knowing. Through a wide variety of courses and programming in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, we take up the broader concerns of Africana Studies as a field, merge them with our dynamic faculty expertise and interests, and combine them with the educational needs of our diverse student population to encourage multi and interdisciplinary research, writing, and analysis. Even as intellectual rigor is a significant programmatic focus, we also recognize the importance of grounding intellectual engagement with activism and life experience, and we assist students in finding unique and compelling perspectives from which to pursue and to make their own contributions to the field of Africana Studies.
Syllabus as Mixtape: DJ Scholarship as a Pedagogical Practice
Featuring Lynnée Denise and students of the Music Migration, Blues People, and Wayward Women course Fall 2021
For the fall 2021 semester at Williams College, Professor Lynnée Denise designed a course titled Music Migration, Blues People, and Wayward Women. She introduces students to a range of alternative methods, subversive epistemologies, and sociological interventions that help illuminate how Black people moved from place to place with their rhythms and ideas. Approaching the syllabus as she would a mixtape, DJ Lynnée Denise assigned a semester-long project that required students to create the academic courses that matched their academic interests and courses they’d like to see. In this talk, Lynnée Denise speaks to the main themes in the course and gives students the platform to share their mock course titles and course descriptions for the Williams College community.
Lynnée Denise is the 2022 Sterling Brown ’22 Distinguished Visiting Professor. She’s an artist, scholar, writer, and DJ whose work reflects underground cultural movements, the 1980s, migration studies, theories of escape, and electronic music of the African Diaspora. Denise coined the phrase “DJ Scholarship” to re-position the role of the DJ from a party purveyor to an archivist, cultural custodian, and information specialist of music with critical value. Through interactive workshops, lectures, and presentations at universities, conferences, and performance venues, Denise harnesses music as a medium for vital public dialogue on how to transform how the music of the Black Atlantic is understood in its social context and beyond entertainment.