This course surveys myths, theories, discourses, and debates surrounding the meaning of race and its role in the historical formation of the “New World” in the Americas. Beginning with the origins of racial theory in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, we will follow their evolution and expansion into scientific and culturalist discourses in the nineteenth century, and through the dramatic transformations of the twentieth century leading up to the present. Readings will range from canonical scholars, orators, social scientists, and philosophers up to the most contemporary thinkers. Along the way, we will read work by Ottobah Cugoano, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Hortense Spillers, Paul Gilroy, Sylvia Wynter, Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon, Denise Ferreira da Silva, James Baldwin, Cedric Robinson, Angela Davis, Imani Perry, Khalil Muhammad, Saidiya Hartman, Charles Mills, Jackie Wang, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Audre Lorde and Cornel West among others. The course places an emphasis on building foundations in the historiography and intellectual genealogy of racial discourses as they have been constructed, reproduced, contested, reimagined, and ultimately disseminated throughout the American hemisphere and beyond.