Course Spotlight: Sin and Laughter: Transgressive Arts from Southern Africa to the Middle East

Course Description

What’s the best Arab sitcom? How have African ideas of acceptable and unacceptable humor evolved over the history of cosmopolitanism? Where do we find evidence of religious dogma in the tradition of creative humor? What the hell does Dante have to do with African photography? This course will address these questions as we study creative culture in Africa and the Middle East.

Readings, viewings, and screenings will include: Sharif ‘Arafa, Georges Bataille, Adelaide Casely-Hayford, JM Coetzee, Aida Muluneh, Trevor Noah, and Binyavanga Wainaina

PREREQUISITES WILL BE WAIVED FOR ANY STUDENT WITH JUNIOR STANDING; Other students are also welcome to contact instructor for possible waivers:

Enrollment Details

African 405: Sin and Laughter: Transgressive Arts from Southern Africa to the Middle East
3 Credits
Tuesday and Thursday 5:30-6:45
Fall 2017

Sai Mado / The Distant Gaze by Aida Muluneh courtesy of David Krut Projects

About the Instructor

Samuel England is Assistant Professor of Arabic at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He teaches Classical and modern Arabic, Mediterranean cultures, and sub-Saharan African sources. Prof. England writes on Classical Arabic poetry and prose, courts in the Middle East and Europe, Crusades literature, Arab national arts of the past century, and Romance-language treatments of Islam. His first book, currently in press, is Medieval Empires and the Culture of Competition: Literary Duels at Islamic and Christian Courts (Edinburgh University Press).