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African American Studies

The African American Studies Department is a multidisciplinary program of study that seeks, through the humanities and social sciences, to explore key aspects of the Black experience in a systematic and structurally integrated fashion. Its broad educational purposes are to engender among all students an intellectual appreciation of Black life in Africa and the Americas (especially in the United States); to enrich the Oberlin College curriculum, and increase the relevance of an Oberlin education to a culturally diverse world. Thus, the Department strives to provide the student body, in general, with substantive knowledge of the Black experience and values that maximize possibilities for racial harmony. The Department is aided in its efforts by the Afrikan Heritage House, which serves as the College's Black communal and cultural center.

Curriculum. The African American Studies curriculum offers extensive study of the Black experience in a diasporic setting, including but not limited to, Africa, North America, and the Caribbean. These offerings are arranged in three categories: introductory, intermediate, and advanced. All introductory courses are open without prerequisite, except as indicated in the course description. African American Studies 101 and other beginning courses may serve as prerequisites to all intermediate and advanced courses.

Major. The requirements for the major in African American Studies are consistent with our view of the field as a multidisciplinary and area studies program. Major prerequisites are designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the Black experience as well as a firm grounding in a single field of study. Both breadth and depth in the field are to be obtained by majors.

The major consists of a minimum of 30 hours. In consultation with their major advisor, students are expected to develop a balanced program of study and to supplement their work with courses in fields related to their special needs and interests:

1. As the introduction to the discipline, African American Studies 101 is required of all majors and must be taken in the freshman or sophomore year.

2. All majors are required to take at least one course in each of the three following subject areas: African, African American, and Caribbean Studies.

3. All majors are required to take not less than nine (9) hours each from the humanities and social science divisions, as multidisciplinary training. Students must also ensure that these courses are drawn from at least four of the five core fields (i.e., education, history, literature, politics, and fine arts).

4. An additional nine (9) hours, including the Senior Seminar, are to be taken in a single field of specialization. Specialization is offered in the following areas: education, history, literature, politics, and the fine arts (i.e. art, music, theater and dance). Students are required to show a balance between introductory and advanced courses in their specialization.

5. All majors are required to take the Senior Seminar in their junior or senior year.

6. Up to six (6) hours of credit may be gained from cross-listed or cross-referenced courses (such as Religion 284, Art 072, Sociology 277, Polt 254 and Theater 268), or from approved cognate courses.

Minor. A minor in the field consists of a minimum of 15 hours in African American Studies. In addition to the introductory survey course, student minors are expected to take at least one course from the fields of: education, politics, history, literature or fine arts. All minors are required to take at least one course in each of the three following subject areas: African, African American, and Caribbean Studies.

Honors. The honors program offers an opportunity for majors of proven ability and independence to extend their competence in the field of African American Studies.

Students have the option of writing a research paper, completing a special arts project, or demonstrating advanced pedagogical skills. All honors work is supervised by a faculty advisor who assists the student in defining the nature of his/her honors project.

Africa Program. Study opportunities are offered in the English-speaking countries of Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, where students are placed at universities. Similar opportunities exist for students proficient in French at the University of Dakar in Senegal. Students on financial aid should consult the Director of Financial Aid before planning to participate in the program.

Off-Campus Programs for Credit. Field work in programs approved by Oberlin College in Africa and the Caribbean is encouraged. By approval of the department students may count a maximum of six hours of such work toward the major. Prior permission from the department must be obtained to receive credit.

Transfer of Credit. Students transferring credits in African American Studies from courses taken at other institutions may apply a maximum of nine credit hours toward the major with the approval of the department. Individual cases for students who transfer into the College after their sophomore year will be reviewed by the department.

Winter Term. The African American Studies faculty will sponsor individual projects, on- or off-campus, in African and African American art, dance, education, history, literature, politics, and theater.

Private Reading. Students may schedule a reading course during their junior or senior years. No more than one reading course may be taken in any one semester, nor more than two during the undergraduate program. Normally the private readings may not duplicate a regularly scheduled course. African American Studies Department (afamstud) On-Line. For more information on courses, instructors or Afrikan Heritage House (the cultural center), please visit our home page at: www.oberlin.edu/~afamstud/.

Cross-Referenced Courses. The following cross-referenced courses can be used towards the African American Studies major and minor.

POLT 254. Topics in Contemporary African Affairs. Ms. Sandberg

RELG 284. The History of the African-American Religious Experience, Mr. Miller

SOCI 277. Race and Ethnic Relations, Mr. White

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Introductory Courses

070. Talking Book 3 hours
3HU, CD
This class is a hands-on exploration of spoken/written narrative within African American visual tradition(s). We will view works by Carrie Mae Weems, Faith Ringgold, David Hammond, Ill Willie, Glen Lion, and many more. These artists will serve as models for the layering of voices gathered and conjured within class projects. Students will be required to write, perform, compose (visually, and/or sonically) tapestries of voices carried within. Projects will range from portraits of self, to portraits of place and time. Sound equipment will be made available to students enrolled (no previous experience necessary). Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 12.

Sem 1 AAST-070-01 TuTh 9:00-12:00 Mr. Coleman

072. Blues Aesthetic: Continuity and Transformation 3 hours
3HU, CD
The emphasis of this course is upon the thesis that the black or "Blues Aesthetic" is a cultural perspective that emerges from within the experiences of black people, facing the socio-political and economic conditions of modern and contemporary America. Our focus will be upon the traditions of African American music, literature, theater/film, and specifically the visual arts. These images will be presented in a context that identifies the field of history from which the ideas evolved, and their references to traditions, issues, and experiences that more fully inform North American culture as a whole. Identical to ARTS 072. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 12.

Sem 2 AAST-072-01 TuTh 1:00-2:50 Mr. Coleman

074. Something From Something 3 hours
3HU, CD
This course is a 'hands on' exploration of vernacular visual traditions existing within African American culture. We will examine design choices/material processes used to define and describe the specificity of lived experience(s) within African American culture. Our focus is upon elders within black communities and the stories that they tell through their work. These artists will serve as references for assigned projects designed to reflect the experiences of the individuals enrolled. Identical to ARTS 056. Enrollment Limit: 12.

Sem 1 AAST-074-01 TuTh 1:30-4:30 Mr. Coleman

101. Introduction to the Black Experience 3 hours
3SS, CD
An interdisciplinary exploration of key aspects of black history, culture, and life in Africa and the Americas. The course attempts to provide students with a fundamental intellectual understanding of the universal black experience as it has been described and interpreted by humanists and social scientists. Included in the course will be such topics as: the African American Studies movement, the African heritage of Afro-Americans, Pan-African relations, racism and sexism, the family, the role of religion in black life, class structure and class relations, the political economy of African American life, and black political power. Declared majors are given priority for this course. Enrollment Limit: 45.
Sem 1 AAST-101-01 TuTh 3:00-4:15 Mr. Millette
Sem 2 AAST-101-01 TuTh 3:00-4:15 Ms. Brooks


107. Nommo, A Practicum in Black Journalism 1-2 hours
1-2SS, CD
Next offered 2002-2003.

116. Literary Reflection of British Empire and Commonwealth 3 hours
3SS, CD
Identical to ENGL 116 and RHET 116. For full course description see section entitled "Colloquia for First- and Second-Year Students."
Sem 1 AAST-116-01 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Mr. Podis, Mr. Saaka

118. Ritual and Performance I: The world according to the Yoruba 3 hours
and their descendants in the New World
3SS, CD, WR
For full course description see section entitled "Colloquia for First- and Second-Year Students."
Sem 1 AAST-118-01 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Ms. Sharpley

120. The Caribbean and the Wider World 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
For full course description see section entitled "Colloquia for First- and Second-Year Students."
Sem 1 AAST-120-01 MW 12:00-1:20 Mr. Millette

131. Traditional African Cosmology 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
An introductory survey of African philosophical and metaphysical traditions, including an examination of traditional African religion, spirituality, applied metaphysics, and cultural patterns. Enrollment Limit: 35.
Sem 1 AAST-131-01 MW 12:00-1:20 Mr. Saaka

141. The Heritage of Black American Literature 3 hours
3HU, CD
A survey of black American literature from its inception in the 18th century to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Phillis Wheatley, Jupiter Hammon, David Walker, Maria Stewart, and others up to DuBois and Anna Julia Cooper, including related slave songs, sermons, spirituals, blues, slave narratives and other folk expressions. Preference for declared majors and department credit students. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 35
Sem 1 AAST-141-01 TuTh 11:00-12:30 Ms. Gadsby

157. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. 3 hours
3HU, CD, WRi
Next offered 2002-2003.

171, 172. Introduction to African-American Music 3 hours
3HU, CD
Identical to JAZZ 290, 291 and MHST 290, 291.
Sem 1 AAST-171-01 MWF 11:00-11:50 Mr. Logan
Sem 2 AAST-172-01 MWF 11:00-11:50 Mr. Logan

181. Education in the Black Community 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
The philosophy of a Ghetto Scholar is the sole focus of this course. This highly creative and very original philosophy centers on a Ghetto Scholar's use of education to pursue the concept of GGG (the greatest good, for the greatest number, for the greatest period). Students are required to think imaginatively, analytically, and independently as they examine critical issues facing black and other oppressed peoples. Education is essential to the attainment of a world that is liberated, peaceful, and humane. Enrollment Limit: 20.
Sem 1 AAST-181-01 M 2:30-4:20 Mr. Peek

190. West African Dance Forms in the Diaspora I 2 hours
2HU, CD
Next offered 2002-2003.

191. West African Dance Forms in the Diaspora II 2 hours
2HU, CD
This course will expand the dance movements, forms, and techniques from AAST 190 class. Extensive dance performance within a particular area (Brazil, Cuba and Haiti) will be examined. The dances will be explored in their total experience in context with costumes and music. Prerequisites: AAST 190 or Dance 1311. Identical to DANC 191. Enrollment Limit: 30.
Sem 1 AAST-191-01 MW 11:00-12:30 Ms. Sharpley

194. Blues Improv 2 hours
2HU, CD
Next offered 2002-2003.

195. Jazz Improv 2 hours
2HU, CD
Next offered 2002-2003.

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Intermediate Courses

Majors are given priority for enrollment in all intermediate and advanced courses.

202. African American History Since 1865 3 hours
3SS, CD
An analysis of African American history from the Reconstruction Era to the Rise of Black Power. Coverage includes: the Age of Booker T. Washington, Urbanization, Pan-Africanism, Depression and War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Resurgence of Black Nationalism. Enrollment Limit: 50.

Sem 1 AAST-202-01 MW 2:30-4:20 Ms. Brooks

203. African History from Earliest Times to the 19th Century 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
First semester. This course deals with the origins of human society in Africa; the rise of organized social, commercial and political systems; Egypt and other classical African civilizations and empires; traditional religions, Christianity and Islam in Africa; the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its impact on African societies and trading systems; the under-development of Africa by the end of the slave trade. Enrollment Limit: 40.
Sem 2 AAST-203-01 MW 12:00-1:20 Mr. Millette

204. African History 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
Next offered 2002-2003.

208. Slavery and Freedom in the Western Hemisphere 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
Next offered 2002-2003.

209. Society and Politics in the Modern Caribbean, 1838-1970 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
This course discusses the modern Caribbean from the emancipation of the slaves in the British West Indies to the independence and post-independence periods. It explores the post-emancipation social, economic and political problems; the introduction of East Indian indentureship; the later emancipations in the French and Spanish islands; political and economic modernization; the growth of the nationalist movements; independence and neo-colonialism. Enrollment Limit: 40.
Sem 2 AAST-209-01 MW 2:30-4:20 Mr. Millette

215. African American Women's History 3 hours
A general survey of the history of Black women from colonial times to the present. The course will examine the uniqueness of the Black female experience through the lens of the intersection of race, class and sex in American society. The course studies the lives of Black women from slavery through reconstruction, northern migration, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement, and on to the development of a contemporary Black feminism. Primarily an historical treatment. The course includes literature and political commentary from Black women writers and activists. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 20. Identical to Women's Studies 280.
Sem 1 AAST-215-01 TuTh 9:00-10:50 Ms. Brooks

219. The Freedom Movement: Civil Rights and Black Power 3 hours
3SS CD, WR
In December, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks, by refusing to yield her bus seat to a white passenger, launched the modern freedom movement on behalf of all African Americans. This course offers an analysis of the many singular and communal acts waged by Black people in the US in pursuit of justice from 1955-1968 and beyond. It seeks to illuminate the several ways in which African Americans would wrest greater political, economic, and social control over their lives in the US South and North. Using a host of personal testimonies, as well as important secondary works, this course considers questions of leadership, organization, tactics, goals, gender relations, politics, and the economic implications of such a critical moment in African American and US history. Enrollment Limit: 25.
Sem 2 AAST 219 MW 2:30-4:20 Ms. Brooks

231. African American Politics 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
Next offered 2002-2003.

235. Government and Politics of Africa 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
This course will provide a general overview of colonialism in Africa and its after-effects. More specifically it will deal with topics such as: the acquisition of African colonies by European powers; the slave trade; the colonial policies of the various European powers; "protonationalism;" constitutional developments on the Continent, particularly during the period from 1945 to 1960; African nationalism; the evolution of political parties and the struggle for independence. Enrollment Limit: 35.
Sem 1 AAST-235-01 TuTh 3:00-4:15 Mr. Saaka

244. Modern African Literature 3 hours
3HU, CD, WR
This course will study a selected array of African writings by 20th century African authors, Chinua Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah, Amos Tutuola, Bessie Head, Buchi Emecheta, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Camara Laye and others. Attention will be given to an understanding of African cultural heritage (i.e., epistemology) which influences or which is inherent in modern African literature. Muntu and Neo-African literature by Janheinz Jahn will be of use. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 2 AAST-244-01 TuTh 1:00-2:50 Staff

245. Modern African American Literature: 1920-1960 3 hours
3HU, CD
Next offered 2001-2002.

248. Resistance and Voice: Literature of the African Diaspora 3 hours
This course is a comparative examination of literature written by peoples of African descent internationally. The course will examine the literary expression of peoples of African descent and Africans in the Americas, Europe, South and Central America. Using Paule Marshall's discussion of "taking [one's] mouth and [making] a gun," we will look at the ways in which
peoples of African descent write resistance into their literature in creative ways. We will read the work of several authors including, Paule Marshall, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Ama Ata Aidoo, Dorothea Smartt, Kwame Dawes, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Amiri Baraka, Suheir Hammad, and Earl Lovelace.

Sem. 1 AAST 248-01 TuTh 1:00-2:50 Ms. Gadsby

261. "Framing Blackness": African Americans and Film 3 hours
In The United States, 1915 to the Present.
3 HU
Through an interrogation of Hollywood's construction of Black images and the development of African American independent cinema, this class will examine the multifaceted relationship of African American people to the powerful medium of film. Drawing its title from Ed Guerrero's book of the same name, "Framing Blackness" will draw on historical and critical readings as well as film viewing. The course will also track the rise of independent Black voice in film and the development of a distinctively Afrocentric aesthetic in the last forty years. Discussions and paper will be used for evaluation. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 35.
Sem 2 AAST 261 TBA Ms. Jackson Smith

264. African-American Drama 3 hours
3HU, CD
Identical to THEA 264.
Sem 1 AAST-264-01 TuTh 10:00-11:50 Ms. Jackson-Smith

268. Black Arts Workshop 3 hours
3HU, CD
The Black Arts Workshop combines theory and performance in African American cultural styles. Readings and discussions encompass Afrocentric philosophy, history, religion and aesthetics, dance, music, visual arts and drama. Classroom exercises focus on meditation, movement, dance and acting skills. In the latter part of the semester there is a focus on Black Theater including scene work. Written work is required. Final projects are to be creative in nature. Notes: May be repeated twice for credit. Identical to THEA 268. Enrollment Limit: 25.
Sem 1 AAST-268-01 MWF 1:00-2:30 Ms. Jackson-Smith
May not be offered 2001-2002

281. Practicum in Tutoring 1-3 hours
1-3SS, CD
Tutors offer academic help to children in schools, homes, etc. Focus is on academically weak children generally, and on black children specifically. By critiquing the instructor's tutorial demonstrations, tutors develop an appreciation and understanding of the Master Tutor Concept. TB test required. Obtain and return questionnaires before tutoring. Notes: Repeatable up to 8 hours. CR/NE grading. Enrollment Limit: 80.
Sem 1 AAST-281-01 To be arranged Mr. Peek
Sem 2 AAST-281-01 To be arranged Mr. Peek

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Advanced Courses

Majors are given priority for enrollment in all intermediate and advanced courses.

306. The History of South Africa, 1870-1950 4 hours
4SS, CD, WR
Next offered 2002-2003.

321. Black Feminist Thought: An Historical Perspective 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
This seminar course will explore and analyze the evolution of intellectual discourse among African-American women from slavery to the present. Particular attention will be given to the interplay of ideas about race and gender and the social and economic position of black women at various time periods. Sources will include autobiographies, novels, historical documents,
sociological studies, and modern feminist social critiques. Prerequisite: AAST 220 or consent of instructor. Identical to WOST 321. Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 2 AAST-321-01 TuTh 9:30-10:50 Ms. Brooks

334. African Literary Theory and Theorizing 3 hours
3HU, CD, WR
Drawing on recent critical interest in studying black literary traditions across national boundaries, this seminar will examine the emergence, evolution, and continuing development of major theories and methods for interpreting literatures of Africa and the African diaspora. We will focus on key questions revolving around the functions and characteristics of literature, cultural nationalism and identity, and feminism in literary movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude, the Black Arts Movement, and Creolité. We will read major theorists such as Locke, Cesaire, Baraka, Ngugi, and Boyce Davies as well as some creative works. Prerequisite: At least one 300-level course in African and/or African American literature. Consent: Consent of instructors required. Identical to ENGL 434-01. Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 2 AAST-334-01 W 7:00-10:00 p.m. Ms. Gadsby and Ms. Johns

336. Pan-Africanism Political Perspective 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
After having gained a broad overview of the evolution of political consciousness on the continent of Africa, students will be expected to examine in critical detail the more substantive problems posed by Pan-Africanism. What does Pan-Africanism mean to the different African peoples of the world? Who have been the significant contributors to its growth - Nkrumah, Garvey, Nyerere, Fanon, Karenga ...? What is the OAU in relation to the concept? What are the consequences of the military takeovers on the continent? What is the future of Pan-Africanism? Consents: Consent of the instructor required. Identical to POLT 318. Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 2 AAST-336-01 W 7:00-9:00 p.m. Mr. Saaka

343. Langston Hughes and the Black Aesthetic 3 hours
3HU, CD, WR
Selected poetry and prose by Hughes, including his first autobiography, The Big Sea, and his last book of poems, The Panther and the Lash. Attention is given to Hughes' concept of the black writer's role, his use of the black aesthetic, and his blues and jazz poetry. Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 2 AAST-343-01 MW 2:30-4:20 Staff

346. Contemporary African American Literature: 1960-Present 3 hours
3HU, CD, WR
A survey of African American writings with emphasis on the Black Arts Movement of the 1960's and the Post Black Arts Womanist Movement of the mid-1970's-Present, and the key writers of these times, including Amiri Baraka, Hiki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, David Henderson, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Carolyn Rogers, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker, John A. Williams, and many others. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Identical to ENGL 352. Enrollment Limit: 35. Preference given to declared majors and students taking the course for credit.
Sem 2 AAST-346-01 MWF 12:00-1:20 Ms. Gadsby

347. Going Away Coming Home: Caribbean Literature 3 hours
3HU, CD
Proseminar: General survey of writings in English by West Indian poets, novelists, playwrights and non-fiction writers. Many different peoples make up the West Indian populations--Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad/Tobago, and the smaller islands such as St. Kits and Nevis--representing some of the most richly diverse societies in the world. Altogether, in part or whole, as time permits, the course will include works by C.L.R. James, George Lamming, Merle Hodge, Kamau Brathwaite, Roger Mais, Louise Bennett, Jamacia Kincaid, Jean Binta Breeze, Rose Guy, Wilson Harris, Earl Lovelace, John La Rose, Paule Marshall, V. S. Naipaul, Andrew Salkey, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sylvia Wynter, Claude MacKay, Jean Rhys, Michelle Cliff, Samuel Selvon, and of course Derek Walcott, first West Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 20.
Sem 2 AAST-347-01 TuTh 9:00-10:50 Ms. Gadsby

385. Black Pedagogy 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
Second semester. Black children possess the inherent ability to score 1400 plus on the SATs and obtain As in school. This course examines the philosophy and practices of Honors Teachers. Students explore analytically and pragmatically a pedagogy designed to help ghetto children attain excellence in reading, writing, and arithmetic in spite of racism, poverty, etc. Enrollment Limit: 20.
Sem 2 AAST-385-01 M 2:30-4:20 Mr. Peek

388. Black Tests 3 hours
3SS, CD
Next offered 2001-2002.

390. Essence Dance Class 1-2 hours
1-2HU, CD
This course is designed to promote and develop creativity in dance performance through the Black experience. A variety of dance forms will be used such as: modern, Afro-forms, and black urban vernacular dances. Students are expected to purchase costumes. Prerequisites: AAST 101, AAST 190, AAST 191 or DANCE 238. Notes: This class may be repeated for a maximum of four accumulated hours. CR/NE grading. Consent: Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 2 AAST-390-01 TuTh 7:00-9:00 p.m. Ms. Sharpley
one hour credit
AAST-390-02 TuTh 7:00-9:00 p.m. Ms. Sharpley
two hours credit

391. Dance Diaspora 2 hours
2HU, CD
Faculty directed performance project. Auditions are held during each semester before enrollment. Notes: This class may be taken for four accumulated hours. African-American Studies majors will have first priority. Consent: Consent of instructor required Enrollment Limit: 15.
Sem 1 AAST-391-01 TuTh 9:00-11:00 p.m. Ms. Sharpley

450. Senior Seminar 4 hours
4SS, CD, WR
This course will cover aspects of philosophy, history, methodology and research methods in the discipline. This is a required course for all African American Studies majors during the senior year. Notes: Juniors who are majors will be accepted only with consent of instructor or department chair. Consent of instructor required.
Sem 2 AAST-450-01 M 7:00-9:00 p.m. Mr. Saaka

500. Junior Honors Project 3 hours
3SS, CD, WR
Specialized readings pertaining to a well-defined honors project. Students must be supervised by a member of the department to identify research sources. Notes: Honors program is by departmental invitation. Consent of instructor required.

501, 502. Senior Honors 3-5 hours
3-5SS, CD, WR
The preparation of honors theses under the supervision of faculty supervisors. Notes: The Honors Program is by departmental invitation. Consent of instructor required.

995. Private Reading 1-3 hours
1-3SS, CD
Any student who is interested in undertaking a Private Reading course with a member of the Department should make arrangements prior to registering for the course. Consent of instructor required.

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