Understanding Africa

3 credits


Black Studies
College of Arts and Science

The purpose of this course is twofold. First, it provides an introduction to the cultures and societies of Africa. It begins by discussing common misunderstandings and stereotypes about the African continent and its people. As the course proceeds, we will look at fiction and scholarship from Africa which respond to these misunderstandings and also offer glimpses into aspects of the lives of black African peoples. We will proceed to discuss aspects of history, culture, politics, gender, the environment, health and development in Africa. Second, this course is designed to sharpen our analytical and writing skills. As we discuss each of the assigned readings and videos, we will talk about the purposes of authors and filmmakers. Recognizing that authors and filmmakers have specific artistic and intellectual goals in telling their stories is the first step in gaining the ability to analyze their work. We will, therefore, ask how the author’s or filmmakers’ purpose influences the historical and social context in which the story is set, the decisions by the author about what information to include or to omit and, finally, the point-of-view taken by the author and filmmaker. We will put these skills to use in writing our one of own papers for this course.