Signature Selections from the Course Catalog

Every day at Sage, professors and students ask big questions and then read widely, write intensely and collaborate zealously as they pursue sometimes-elusive answers. This series highlights some of the classes that are inspiring MORE on campus.

Dr. David Green's Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj: Performing Black Feminism class.

Dr. David Green’s Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj: Performing Black Feminism class.

This spring, Director of Diversity and Inclusion David Green, Ph.D., is teaching Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj: Performing Black Feminism. The three-credit Humanities elective offered on the Russell Sage College campus filled up almost right away.

“The course title catches students’ attention,” said Dr. Green, “but the idea that you can talk in an academic setting about who students know and listen to is really interesting to them.” The course includes readings from Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought and discussions about what the students understand about these artists; whether or not the students consider the artists to be feminists; and the tension between black feminism and mainstream feminism, which doesn’t always take into account how race, gender, economics and other factors impact a person’s experience of equality. “By the end of the semester, students will be able to articulate a short history of black women performers and how they have reimagined performance and politics of race, gender and liberation.”

“Literature, history, culture studies and critical theory comingle in my classes in ways that are fraught and powerful,” continued Dr. Green, describing how Performing Black Feminism grew out of a class looking at gender and sexuality through pop diva artists that he taught as a lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at his previous institution. “My students said ‘I had no idea I could learn about gender and sexuality from these artists,’” said Dr. Green.

Dr. Green joined Sage in 2016. He develops and implements programs that support diversity and inclusion at Sage, and teaches interdisciplinary classes. “Part of my job is to talk to everybody,” he said. “I always ask students what they would like to see here at Sage. Students ask for more Black Studies courses. Whenever I’m talking with a student or students about academic life here at Sage I usually ask: if you could add a Black Studies course, what would it be?” In addition to Performing Black Feminism, Dr. Green taught Black Power and Civil Rights at Sage College of Albany in 2017. He is proposing a Black Psychology class and an Intro to LGBTQ Studies class for the future. “My big goal is to make sure students on both campuses feel the ethos of inclusion on both campuses,” he said.