History Department
History Department

Peniel E. Joseph


ProfessorPh.D., Temple University

Professor; Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values
Peniel E. Joseph

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Courses


HIS 389 • Black Politics

39224 • Spring 2019
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 3.355
(also listed as P A 388K)

Black Politics examines the political thought and practice of African Americans from the end of slavery to the present. The course defines “politics” broadly, ranging from movements to elect officals at the local, state, and national level to civic groups, fraternal association, religious, and cultural and educational movements that organized for political self-determination during the Age of Jim Crow segregation that gripped the nation for a century after salvery’s legal demise. A wide range of African Americans have organized themselves in public and private spheres in pursuit of political power; through womens clubs; civil rights organizations; self-help group; labor union; institutes of higher and vocational education; the creation of the public school system; and churches, Black politics has consistently sought to reimagine American democracy as a vehicle for political liberation, freedom, power, justice, love, and compassion. On this score activists supported liberal, conservative, moderate, and radical ideologies in search of a liberated future.  Black Republicans, Democrats, socialists, Marxists, Christians, atheists, feminists, and conservatives engaged in vigorous, at times contentious, debates over the direction of Black Politics that is sometimes reduced to the controversy between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. The Civil Rights Movement is perhaps the best known expression of Black Politics, but far from the only one. Efforts to secure decent housing, health care, good schools, clean neighborhoods, employment, safe spaces, playgrounds, clean water, and healthy environments represent one aspect of Black Politics that is too often reduced to a quest for symbolic representation (black faces in higher places) rather than, as political activist Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) famously advocated in 1966, a struggle for Black Power.
 
Students interested in black politics, civil rights, social policy and the deep connections between the historical development of racial justice struggles and contemporary policy debates and challenges would find this course of interest.
 
Readings: One full-length book and/or article per week. Reading list still tentative.
Requirements/expectations: Students will be evaluated based on five criteria:
1)      Weekly three-paragraph critical analysis of the readings.
2)      Class participation
3)      Research Progress Reports
4)      Draft of Research Paper
5)      Final Research Paper

HIS 350R • Obama/American Democracy

39227 • Fall 2018
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 0.128
(also listed as AFR 372F)

This undergraduate seminar focuses on the impact of Barack Obama’s watershed presidency on American democracy. 

The course utilizes President Barack Obama’s personal biography and political trajectory as a prism to view larger conflicts, debates, transformations, and setbacks in the black freedom struggle and the relationship between race and democracy at the local, regional, national, and global levels. Barack Obama’s watershed 2008 presidential election inspired hopes for a “post-racial” future that confronted harsh political, cultural, and economic realities that at times reinforced entrenched racial divides. In other instances, Obama’s election opened new opportunities for Americans and citizens around the world to forge a more radically multicultural, multiracial, and multiethnic future

Students interested in black politics, civil rights, social policy and the deep connections between the historical development of racial justice struggles and contemporary policy debates and challenges would find this course of interest. 

 

Students will be evaluated based on four criteria:

1)     Weekly three-paragraph critical analysis of the readings.

2)     Five Page Book Review of Obama, Dreams From My Father

3)     Five Book Review of Dyson, The Black Presidency

4)     Class participation

 

Readings: We will a total of four books during the semester

 

The course books will focus on Obama, the historical and political context that shaped him, and the one he helped to transform as a student, community organizer, state senator, U.S. senator, and two term president. We will read, study, discuss, and critique several different kind of works related to Obama including his own memoir; a critical political and intellectual biography; the first policy assessment of his presidency by a group of historians; and the meaning of his iconography to black Americans.  

 

 


 

 

 

Assignments

 

A weekly three-paragraph response on the assigned reading is due by 5 PM the day before our seminar. Each student should read everyone’s essay before the start of class and provide comments, both positive and critical, that will be used for class discussion. Your responses should be submitted in the “Discussion” section of Canvas which will allow you to post your response as well as comment on the responses of others.

 

Each paragraph should be five sentences and consider the following:

  1. How does the author approach race and democracy in shaping Obama? How does the history being explored connect to our contemporary understanding of black and Africana identity and what are the theoretic and political implications of the work, both historically and contemporaneously?
  2. What’s the argument being laid out and how persuasive do you find it to be? Examine the sources in the bibliography and endnotes to consider the way in which the author has marshaled their evidence.
  3. How does the work (book chapter) merit analytically and stylistically? Does the author’s analysis seem persuasive and insightful, even when you disagree?
  4. Think about the readings in tandem, both thematically, chronologically, and theoretically. How does America’s complicated racial history and legacy shape the social, political, and cultural contexts that Obama imbibes on his journey intellectualy, personally, and politically?
  5. Meetings with Professor Joseph: All students are required to meet with Professor Joseph one-on-one once during the semester.  

 

Midterm Assignment: Complete rough draft of final essay.

 

Final Assignment: Barack Obama, Race, and American Democracy: A Critical Historical Assessment

 

Students are required to write a critical 10-15 page essay assessing President Barack Obama’s impact and influence on American democracy as both a political leader and symbolic figure.

 

Based on our readings this semester, what makes Barack Obama such a historic figure? What are his most important successes and failures? Did Obama’s presidency lead to greater racial progress in the United States and around the world? If so, provide three specific examples of why. If not, provide three examples of why not. If, as I suspect, his presidency proved a more complicated and contingent phenomenon, outline the nuances here as well. As a candidate in 2008, Obama offered himself as part of the “Joshua Generation” standing on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s shoulder. Yet many critics alleged that President Obama’s use of drone strikes, his failure to prosecute Wall Street crimes, and his unwillingness to promote radical policies to promote racial and economic justice betrayed King’s legacy. Others countered that his support for equal pay for women, the passage of the Affrodable Care Act, promotion of environmental protection, and effort to scale down mass incarceration offered definitive proof of Obama’s social justice commitments. Given what we have read in great detail this semester about the world that shaped Obama—from both his and various critics, journalists, and historians’ perspective—what will future Americans and world citizens define as his enduring legacy?

 

Our semester reading list provides a sample of many of these issues, but of course is not exhaustive. How has this scholarship impacted the real world and what are its flaws, omissions, strengths, and weaknesses?

 

Please source your speech/policy paper with a bibliography and endnotes. This final project is due in Professor Joseph’s GAR office by 6PM on Monday, December 10, 2018

 

 

Class Schedule

 

 

 

Part 1. The Making of Barack Obama

 

September 10   Obama, Dreams From My Father, Ch. 1-3

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 1.

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 1-2

 

 

September 17   Obama, Dreams From My Father, Ch. 4-6

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 2

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 3

 

 

September 24   Obama, Dreams From My Father, Ch. 7-10

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 3

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 4

 

 

October 1         Obama, Dreams From My Father, Ch. 11-14

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 4.

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 5

 

Part 2. Barack Obama, Race, and American Democracy

 

October 8         Dyson, The Black President, Ch. 1-2

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 5

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 6

 

 

October 15       Class Does Not Meet

 

Dyson, The Black President, Ch. 3-4

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 6.

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 7

 

 

Part 3. A Place Where All Things are Possible: The Black Presidency, Part 1

 

October 22       Dyson, The Black President , Ch. 5

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 7

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 8.

Obama Dreams From My Father Book Review Due

 

 

October 29       Dyson, The Black President, Ch. 6

                        Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 8

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 9

 

November 5     Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 9

                        Dyson, The Black President, Ch. 7

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 10

 

                       

November 12   Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 10

Dyson, The Black President, Ch. 8

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 11

The Black Presidency Book Review Due

                       

 

Part 4. The Age of Obama is the Age of Ferguson and Mass Incarceration: The Black Presidency, Part 2

 

 

November 19   Baker, Obama: The Call of History, Ch. 12 and Epilogue

Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 12

                        Obama, Dreams From My Father, Ch. 15-19

 

November 26   Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 13

                        Coates, “My President Was Black”

 

December 3      Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 14-15

                        Coates, “The First White President,”

                       

 

December 10    Zelizer, The Presidency of Barack Obama, Ch. 16-17

 

Assigned Readings

 

Books can be found at the MAIN Co-op, on Guadalupe, under HIS 350R/unique# 39227. They are also on reserve at the Benson Latin American Collection Library in SRH 1 and can be borrowed for 24 hours. In addition, those that are offered as e-books for checkout from UT are noted below.

 

 

Dyson, Michael Eric. The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (New York: Hoghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).

 

Baker, Peter. Obama: The Call of History (New York: Callaway, 2018).

 

Obama, Barack; Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004).

 

Zelizer, Julian E., ed., The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 512-471-6259 (voice), 512-410-6445 (video phone) or via email ssd@austin.utexas.edu For more information on available services, please see  http://diversity.utexas.edu/

 

By UT Austin policy, you must notify Professor Joseph of any pending absence to observe a religious holy day at least 14 days in advance of the day you wish to take an absence. If you miss a class to observe a religious holy day, you will be given an opportunity to complete any missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.

 

For information on UT policies on Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, please see http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/conduct/   

HIS 389 • Black Power Movement

39445 • Fall 2018
Meets TH 9:30AM-12:30PM GAR 1.122
(also listed as P A 388K)

HIS 389 - Black Power Movement 389
Fall 2018                                                                                                                     Peniel Joseph, Professor

The Black Power Movement represents one of the most important and controversial social and political movements in postwar American history. This graduate redings course examines how the movement for black political self-determination during the 1960s and 1970s transformed American race relations, accelerated the pace of black elected officials nationally, erected new educational, social, political, and cultural institutions nationwide and redefined black politics, identity, and culture. We will also explore the movement’s critique of, and participation in, civil rights struggles; its reimagining of American Democracy; efforts to gain political and economic power within America society while redrawing the landscape of race relations.

Students interested in black politics, civil rights, social policy and the deep connections between the historical development of racial justice struggles and contemporary policy debates and challenges would find this course of interest.
A weekly three-paragraph response on the assigned reading is due by 5 PM the day before our seminar. Each student should read everyone’s essay before the start of class and provide comments, both positive and critical, that will be used for class discussion. Your responses should be submitted in the “Discussion” section of Canvas which will allow you to post your response as well as comment on the responses of others.

Each paragraph should be five sentences and consider the following:
1.    How does the author approach Black Power? How does the history being explored connect to our contemporary understanding of black and Africana identity and what are the theoretic and political implications of the work, both historically and contemporaneously?
2.    What’s the argument being laid out and how persuasive do you find it to be? Examine the sources in the bibliography and endnotes to consider the way in which the author has marshaled their evidence.
3.    How does the work merit analytically and stylistically? Does the author’s analysis seem persuasive and insightful, even when you disagree?
4.    Think about the readings in tandem, both thematically, chronologically, and theoretically. How does Black Power’s critique of American democracy play out in the work? What are some of the movement positive, negative, and unexpected or unanticipated outcomes, legacies?

Meetings with Professor Joseph: All students are required to meet with Professor Joseph one-on-one once during the semester.   

Midterm Assignment: Rough Draft of Final Historiographical Paper.

Final Assignment: Students are required to write a critical twenty-five-page historiographical essay examining the development, evolution, and impact of the Black Power Movement

This historiographical essay will chart the the historiographical contours of the burgeoning scholarship on the Black Power era; its relationship with the history of the Civil Rights Movement; its local, national, and global contours; the movement’s impact on policy, politics, culture, and society; its critique of American democracy and how its remembered in American history and popular culture; its impact on radical, liberal, feminist, conservative and other intellectual and political perspectives during the Black Power era and now; its resonance with contemporary social movements in the Age of Black Live Matter, Occupy, March For Our Lives, #MeToo, and LGBQT movements.

Students will be evaluated based on five criteria:
1)    Weekly three-paragraph critical analysis of the readings.
2)    Class participation and presentation
3)    Research Progress Reports
4)    Draft of Historiographical Paper
5)    Final Historiography Paper

HIS 392 • African American Intellectual

39345 • Spring 2018
Meets TH 9:30AM-12:30PM GAR 1.122
(also listed as P A 388K)

This graduate seminar focuses on black intellectual, political, cultural and literary and historical figures during the course of the long twentieth century. 

The course examines the evolution, conflict, and debate surrounding the development of political and intellectual ideologies in pursuit of racial justice, citizenship, and equality, (ranging from liberal-integrationist, feminist, conservative, black nationalist and beyond) within the black community from the Great Migration to the present. 

Students interested in black politics, civil rights, and social policy and the deep connections between the historical development of racial justice struggles and contemporary policy debates and challenges would find this course of interest.

Students will be evaluated on the basis of three criteria.

1. We will generally read one book per week. Students will write a weekly three paragraph response paper that will serve as a basis for class discussion. 

2. Class participation in discussion, which will provide each student an opportunity to lead an interactive conversation about the reading. 

3. The final paper will be a 25 page historiographical essay exploring the contours of the black intellectual tradition, paying special attention to the way in which history informs contemporary social justice dialogue, debates, and policy. 

HIS 381 • Condemnation Of Blackness

39727 • Fall 2017
Meets TH 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 3.312
(also listed as P A 388K)

This course examines the way in which racial bias in American history, policy and politics has impacted the relationship between African Americans and the justice system, from the convict lease era in slavery's aftermath to the crisis of mass incarceration and the age of Black Lives Matter. We will pay particular attention to the history and impact of federal anti-crime policy on sentencing, mandatory minimums, DOJ Byrne Grants, the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, the drug war, juvenile justice, and prisoner rehabilitation and rights since The Great Society. 

The course will take a panoramic view of the history of race and the criminal justice system. Beginning with the history of black criminalization after Reconstruction and focusing especially on postwar America’s institutionalization of a racialized criminal justice system and its corresponding impact on communities of color. We will examine what Michelle Alexander has labeled the New Jim Crow, the system of mass incarceration that makes the criminal justice system a gateway to multiple systems of oppression to a wide range of blacks and Latinos.

Requirements and Expectations

Students will be evaluated based on four criteria:

  1. Weekly three paragraph critical analysis of the readings.
  2. Midterm assignment of a 2-page policy brief: this will include a short, group presentation on your brief. More information on this assignment will be provided in class.
  3. Final 20 page critical historical and policy analysis on a specific aspect of criminal justice reform (e.g. ending money bail system for criminal defendants charged with low level warrants).
  4. Class participation.

Readings

We will read one book or article per week. 

HIS 392 • Civil Rts Mov & Publ Policy

39797 • Fall 2017
Meets T 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 3.220
(also listed as P A 388K)

This course examines the historical Civil Rights Movement and how its impact on public policy transformed national race relations and ideas of citizenship and helped to redefine American democracy.

We will examine the interactions between ordinary people and democratic institutions, social movement leaders and presidents, community activists and policy makers in trying to reimagine notions of equality, citizenship, freedom and democracy. Some questions we will ask: What was the Civil Rights Movement and who were the major players, actors and organizations that shaped this movement? How did grassroots activists shape the movement for racial, economic and gender justice during this era? What role did presidents and political leaders play in shaping the movement’s national policy aspirations? The course will examine the historic CRM as a vehicle to discuss contemporary civil rights debates, especially voting rights and criminal justice reform.

The course will take a panoramic view of the civil rights period, beginning during the New Deal and concluding with a discussion of Black Lives Matter. Along the way, we will discuss the CRM’s heroic period, including the roles played by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson, while also paying careful attention to the way in which community activists at the grassroots level shaped a movement we still too often think of solely in national terms. Finally, we will explore contemporary policy debates over voting rights, mass incarceration and racial segregation and see how (and if) past policy debates inform current ones.

HIS 381 • Condemnation Of Blackness

39695 • Spring 2017
Meets T 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 3.355
(also listed as P A 388K)

This course examines the way in which racial bias in American history, policy, and politics has impacted the relationship between African Americans and the justice system, from the convict lease era in slavery's aftermath to the crisis of mass incarceration and the age of Black Lives Matter. We will pay particular attention to the history and impact of federal anti-crime policy on sentencing, mandatory minimums, DOJ Byrne Grants, the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, the drug war, juvenile justice, and prisoner rehabilitation and rights since The Great Society. 

HIS 392 • Civil Rts Mov & Publ Policy

39005 • Spring 2016
Meets T 9:00AM-12:00PM SRH 3.355
(also listed as P A 388K)

Civil Rights Movement and Public Policy

This course examines the modern Civil Rights Movement (CRM) from the Great Depression to the present. The CRM is most popularly identified with its heroic period, from 1954-1965, that featured watershed legal and legislative victories, but the movement predates school desegregation and continued long after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. This seminar will explore the CRM in four parts. social movement leaders; the grassroots and community activists; presidential leadership; and contemporary civil rights struggles for voting rights and criminal justice reform and their national policy impact. We will play close attention to how ordinary people, community activists, social movement leaders, politicians, presidents, and the American people debated, shaped, and thought about national policy, especially as it related to bread and butter issues of employment, residential and public school segregation, housing, criminal justice, voting rights, citizenship, and democracy.

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