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Cornel West Returns to Harvard to Teach African American Studies for First Time Since 2000

After a 19-year absence, Dr. Cornel West will return to Harvard University to teach a course in African and African-American Studies, according to the school’s paper, the Harvard Crimson.

West, who graduated from Harvard in 1974, will return to teach African and African American Studies 10: “Introduction to African American Studies” this semester. He has not taught the course at the Ivy League school since 2000.

One of the course’s main focuses will show how African-American intellectual movements responding to catastrophes were influenced by various temperaments and historical schools of thought.

“I’m trying to show the ways in which the Socratic legacy of Athens, the prophetic legacy of Jerusalem, and the scientific legacy of the Enlightenment, and the democratic legacy of American Romanticism feed into the black intellectual tradition,” West said. “[The class] really shows the way in which African American intellectuals were hybrid intellectuals, influenced by a number of very deep and strong traditions,” he added.


West returned to Harvard in 2017 after teaching for nearly 14-years at fellow Ivy Princeton University. The course has been taught in recent years by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Lawrence D. Bobo.

“[Bobo and Gates] teach in terms of debates that have been going on; whereas my course I think will be a course taught by me.” West said. “It is different being taught primarily by one person.”

Bobo’s promotion to divisional dean of the school’s Social Science Department forced the course to restructure, opening up the opportunity for West.

West said he is excited to able to teach the course after years away, calling the experience of teaching it a “blessing.” He described the revamped course as a “fusion of the philosophical, the historical, and the political,” adding that he will incorporate some artistic elements including “good music and literature.”


Written by How Africa

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