This new CSR (Certificate of Sexuality and Religiou) course will be taught by Professor Johari Jabir, PhD (Associate Professor, African American Studies The University of Illinois at Chicago).

6-10 January 2020: 9am to 1pm

1.5 credits

In the making of the new world, the presence of Black people was perceived as the opposite of normative notions of gender, sexuality, religion/spirituality, and U.S. citizenship. For Black people throughout the Diaspora a knowledge of “spirit,” and methods of conjuring the spirit were embedded in Black cultural practices.

This course will explore how modes of conjuring offered collective healing; in addition, we will consider how Black epistemologies have worked against normative categories created to deny Black humanity. In particular, we will engage Black working class religious culture as an optics on queerness and a vision of freedom.

Designed for CSR, MDiv, MAST, MA/MTS, DMin, and PhD students.


Course Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Foster collaborative learning, listening, and collective work. The course will use an interdisciplinary and multimedia approach, with a special space given to music as a form of reflective listening. The written and spoken expectations of the course, as well as the final project will reflect an appreciation for difference in terms of race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, culture, and perspective.
  • Analyze course readings with the goal of understanding and articulating the dynamic and expansive tradition of Black spirituality as embracing multiple forms of religiosity. Through deep reading, engagement, and writing, students will demonstrate proficiency in this learning outcome.
  • Contemplate and articulate how Afro-Black cosmologies have shaped the Black Christian traditions, also commonly referred to as “The Black Church.” This learning outcome will be met in class discussions and in the final collaborative project.

Required Texts:

  1.  Spirited: Affirming the Soul and Black Fay/Lesbian Identity, (Eds. G. Winston James and Lisa C. Moore);
  2.  Aberrations in Black: Toward A Queer of Color Critique  (By Roderick A. Ferguson); and
  3.  Go Tell It on The Mountain (By James Baldwin)


Class meeting times will begin with reflective listening to music, followed by discussion of the assigned readings. Part of class meeting will include small group work in preparation for the final project.


Monday, January 6, 2020:

  • “Religion and the Study of Religion: Its Nature and Its Discourse” by Charles H. Long from Significations
  • “The Collective Will to Conjure: Religion, Ring Shout, and Spiritual Militancy in a Black Regiment” from Conjuring Freedom: Music and Masculinity in the Civil War’s ‘Gospel Army’ by Johari Jabir
  • Selections from “Spirited.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020:

  • Go Tell It on The Mountain by James Baldwin
  • Selections from “Spirited.”

Reflection paper due: 2 pages.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020:

  • Chapters 1-3, Aberrations in Black: Toward A Queer of Color Critique, Roderick A. Ferguson
  • Selections from “Spirited.”

Thursday, January 9, 2020:

  • Chapter 4 and Conclusion, Aberrations in Black: Toward A Queer of Color Critique, Roderick A. Ferguson
  • Selection from “Spirited.”

Reflection paper due: 2 pages.

 Friday, January 10, 2020: Final Class Presentations.

 Final Class Project

Contemporary studies on religion and Black Millennials have revealed a departure from the church, with a new interest in exploring African based spiritualities. Among this exodus from the church is an intolerance for homophobia. In the assigned readings and engagement from this course you have been given the tools to examine Black queerness and spirituality as a “usable past.”

Instruction: prepare a two-week, multi-media proposed curriculum for Black youth who may be unaware of the queer history and the African spiritual roots of the Black Church.