Ronald Stanley Krabill
Introduces historical and contemporary issues facing the continent of Africa through an examination of films dealing with African themes. Addresses the strengths and weaknesses of how African issues are depicted within and outside the continent.
This course introduces students to both historical and contemporary issues facing the continent of Africa through an examination of films dealing with African themes. Because most students in the United States have experienced Africa primarily through mass media representations created by non-Africans, this course takes as a central concern the question of perspective. In other words, this course interrogates the strengths and weaknesses of how African issues are depicted through the particular medium of film, from the perspectives of directors, actors, producers and audiences both inside and outside of the continent of Africa itself. The course is therefore structured through pairings of films and texts that deal with the same or similar topics from different perspectives; sometimes these films address each others’ claims directly, at other times less directly. The course will also familiarize students with issues facing diasporic African communities in the Seattle metropolitan area through an optional project creating a short film for a local community-based organization serving African immigrants; the course will conclude with a screening party of these short films.
Student learning goals
Students should gain a basic familiarity with debates around representations of the “other” in general and Africans in particular.
Students should gain a basic familiarity with African cinematic forms.
Students should gain a basic familiarity with African diasporic communities in our region.
Students should gain a basic familiarity with critical facets of African history, culture, and politics.
Students should gain a basic familiarity with the challenges of film production.
General method of instruction
The format of the class is discussion-based; therefore a relatively large portion of your final grade depends on your overall contribution to the course. On the most basic level of course contribution, you should come to class on time and stay for the duration, having read the assignment and having given it some thought in preparation for participating in discussion. In addition, you will have many structured opportunities to contribute to the course. You will be grouped into research clusters in order to further explore questions raised by our readings as they apply to a case study, and your cluster will collaborate on Blackboard and present its work at the end of the course. In addition to general participation, each of you will be designated as a discussant (in teams of three or four students) for which you will give a brief summary of the reading(s) and introduce some key questions for class discussion at least one time during the course. You will also have the opportunity to participate in electronic discussions on Blackboard.
The only prerequisite is a willingness to engage with cultures and cinematic forms that may seem less familiar to many students.
Class assignments and grading
In addition to contributing to the course through discussion and other forms of engagement, you will also be asked to submit several more formal short essays. Your work in the course will culminate in a research cluster that will focus on a particular issue related to the class in much more depth. Cluster work will include further research, applying the theory or theories we have discussed in class to your project, and facilitating a brief course session on the chosen topic. It may also include a community-based learning initiative. Each of you will also write a medium-length paper to consider the topic of your research cluster in more depth.