Course Spotlight: African Screen Media

alaba_products-1Course Description

Screens have been the sources of news and narrative, as well as the venues for pedagogy and revolution in Africa since the invention of the motion picture. Today, Africa is the home of major innovations in the use of screen media, not the least of which is the “video film” phenomenon typified by Nollywood in Nigeria. What content has appeared in African screen media over the last 100 years? What purposes has it served? How do audiences react to African screen media? What are the politics of motion picture production and consumption in Africa? These and other questions will motivate our study of specific examples and theoretical studies of various screen media.

Course Objectives

Students will be introduced to examples of screen media from colonial cinema to postcolonial film and television, as well as content circulated via computers and mobile devices. Students will also be introduced to the scholarly analysis of film and media industries. A variety of analytical approaches will be fostered, including narrative and visual analysis, media industry analysis, genre analysis, historical and political analysis, and much more. A combination of readings, film screenings, lectures, student presentations, and small and large projects will offer students the opportunity develops skills for critically thinking about the relationship between motion pictures and society.

Sample Readings

  • Moradewun Adejunmobi, “Charting Nollywood’s Appeal Locally and Globally”
  • Sean Jacobs, “Big Brother, Africa is Watching”
  • Brian Larkin, Signal and Noise
  • Birgit Meyer, “Mediation and Immediacy: Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies and the Question of the Medium”
  • David Murphy, Postcolonial African Cinema: Ten Directors

Enrollment Details

African 669: Special Topics: African Screen Media
Open to undergraduate and graduate students
3 credits
MWF 2:25-3:15pm, Location TBA
Spring 2015

About the instructor

Matthew H. Brown writes about literature, film, television, popular culture, and politics in Africa. His current book project explores the relationship between the Nigerian video film industry, “Nollywood,” and other Nigerian media, including state television and literature. Brown is the co-founder of a UW research workshop on “New Media in the Global South” and the co-editor of a special edition of the Journal of African Cinemas on Nollywood’s audiences across Africa.