Afronaut Ascension: A Creative Exploration of Afrofuturism & the Avant Garde

In this seminar students of all backgrounds are invited to participate in visiting some of the pioneers and innovators of Afrofuturist thought and literature and performance as well as becoming familiar with emerging technology like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Module 1 — The Past Future Elders + Ancestors

In this module we will gain a critical analysis of the System of Racial Inequity and learn about pioneers and innovators of Afrofuturist thought, literature technology whose works seek to offer alternative imaginings of how the black body might exist in a future free from its current state of oppression. Looking closely at the plot line and themes of Octavia E. Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, and Sun Ra’s Prophetika. Students will be introduced to the practical component of the seminar as the class crafts their own “New Frontier Manifesto”. This document will serve as a set of community agreements or guiding principles that will inform the performance that the students will ultimately present at the end of the semester.

Module 2 — The Present Future Artivist Activities

Students will be introduced to the works of performing artists working in the realm of live arts. These practitioners evoke Afrofuturist aesthetics in the creation of their on-stage personas. This module will pay particular attention to artists whose work lies at the intersection of art and social justice. Students will be introduced to the work of radical feminist, Shasta from Shasta Geaux Pop. From Athi Patra Ruga’s alter ego Future White Woman of Azania students will learn about performing queer black masculinity in post-apartheid South Africa. Students will learn about Brobot Johnson the title character in a sci-fi hip-hop transmedia piece.

Module 3 — The Future Future Android Awakening

Students will learn about virtual reality film and meet with leaders in the field of digital content creation. Students will also meet Joe Brewster and Michèle Stevenson, an award-winning documentary filmmaking duo and leaders of Rada Film Group, a company committed to ‘…create[ing] compelling visual stories that provoke thought about the complex multicultural world we exist in.’ Joe and Michèle will discuss their latest project, The Untitled Racial Justice Project, a virtual reality experience which enables users to travel to the Jim Crow South. I will share the prototype of my own virtual reality project Atomu which places users at the center of a Kikuyu tribal myth.


Application required. The application process for fall-term Freshman Seminars opens Wednesday, July 7 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) and closes on Monday, July 19 at 12:00 noon (EDT). Apply for a Freshman Seminar




Mondays + Wednesdays,
1:30-2:50 PM


Shariffa Ali