Fall and Summer 2019 Course Spotlights

Are you looking for an African Studies course to take this summer or fall? Here are some great options!

AFRICAN CULTURAL STUDIES 202 (002): How Should We Talk About Africa?
Kathryn Mara, Graduate Student in African Cultural Studies
ONLINE, Summer 2019

The same year Donald Trump complained about immigrants from “s—hole countries” coming to the U.S, Black Panther’s T’Challa told us, “Wakanda Forever.” The same year Desmond Tutu hailed the newly democratic South Africa as the “Rainbow Nation,” the Rwandan Genocide was being described as “tribal warfare” and The Lion King’s Timon and Pumba gave us a “problem-free philosophy: Hakuna matata.” These concurrent both contradictory and complementary representations demand the question: how do you know what you know about Africa? In AFRICA 202, Lecture 2, you will critically analyze the ways in which Africa is represented in popular media, literature, film, music, and social media, in order to examine the relationship between language, power, and ideology within taken-for-granted-understandings of the continent.

LITTRANS 272: Representations of Muslim Societies in French Literature and Pop Culture
Dr. Nevine El-Nossery, Professor of French, Italian, and African Cultural Studies and Director of the Middle East Studies Program
Fall 2019, MWF 9:55am

This course will provide students with the historical context and the literary analysis necessary to understand the complex history of Western perceptions of Islam, taking France as a paradigmatic model. Tracing the long history of representations of Islam and Muslims in Europe and the West, this course will offer students a comparative perspective with which to apprehend attitudes toward Islam in the contemporary global context. In this course, students will…

  • read excerpts from classical French literature by Montesquieu, Voltaire, Hugo, and Lamartine,
  • watch movies like Persepolis, and Monsieur Ibrahim,
  • listen to singers like Diam’s, Khaled, Cheb Mammi,
  • and laugh along with stand-up comedians like Djamel Debouzze and Gad Elmaleh.

Seeing the world through the eyes of other cultures will enhance students’ intercultural knowledge, and will encourage them to think beyond their regional and disciplinary foci, which can facilitate the expansion of their intellectual horizons.

J822: Global Communication
Dr. Lindsay Palmer, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication
Fall 2019, Tuesdays 3:30-6:00 p.m., Vilas 5013

This seminar focuses on the major theories of global, transnational, and international communication, paying closest attention to “global” media technologies, institutions, and practices.

Questions that we will explore:

  • How do we define the “nation,” vs. the “international” vs. the “transnational?” How have scholars historically defined those terms, and how have the definitions changed in the 21st century?
  • What role has propaganda played in international communication, and how have theorists defined propaganda?
  • How have theorists addressed the concepts of “modernization” and “development?”
  • Can any form of communication ever be truly “global?” What is the history of the term, “global,” and what are some scholarly critiques of that concept?
  • How have media technologies been implicated in/helped to sustain processes of globalization? How have they disrupted this process?
  • How have international communications scholars discussed the question of social identity (eg., race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality)? How do these modes of identification become even more complicated when communities or individuals cross geopolitical borders (either voluntarily or under duress)?
  • What attention have international communication scholars given to social media?

Please note: I welcome both qualitative and quantitative students, as well as students from other departments on campus. You will also be encouraged to pursue a final project that best suits your personal research program.

Africa 983: Interdepartmental Seminar in African Studies
Dr. Neil Kodesh, Professor of History
Fall 2019, Thursday, 1:20-3:15

This graduate seminar provides a setting for participants to consider Africa – as an idea, a field of study, a place in the world, a subject for teaching – from a multi-disciplinary perspective. It is available to graduate students as African Cultural Studies 983, Anthropology 983, Economics 983, Geography 983, History 983, or Political Science 983. The course will explore a variety of themes and topics in order to consider not just what to think about the history, cultures, and politics of Africa but also how to think and teach about this part of the world. We will consider the benefits and drawbacks of an area studies orientation in scholarship and teaching, the multiple meanings and varying

“Kuba-Bashong Counsellor with ‘ Basket of Wisdom'” (Jan Vansina, 1956)

expectations associated with working as an “Africanist” in academia, and the ways in which these meanings and expectations might differ according to discipline and the location of institutions of higher education. In other words, we will both focus on the state of scholarship on Africa in various disciplines and also consider how to approach teaching about Africa – course design, the development of syllabi, the use of digital technologies, etc. – from a multidisciplinary perspective.