AFRI 1001 A, Introduction to African Studies I

Carleton University
Institute of African Studies
Summer 2015
AFRI 1001 A: Introduction to African Studies
Instructor: Joana Pimentel
E-mail: [email protected]
Class: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:35am-2:25pm, University Centre 282
Office hours: Mondays, 2:30pm-3:30pm, Paterson 457 (or by appointment)
Tel: (613) 520-2600 ext. 2270 (during office hours)
Teaching Assistant: Matthew Rushton
E-mail: [email protected]
Course description
Popular images of Africa in North America and Europe (or “the West”) tend to construct it in a
way that emphasizes stereotypes such as conflict, political instability, poverty, disaster,
wilderness and exoticism. This course will examine and challenge these representations while
providing alternative ways to conceive of Africa. We will analyze literary, historical and
sociological texts, and audiovisual media in order to gain a set of critical tools for understanding
the continent’s complex socio-cultural experience. Particular attention will be paid to creativity
and cultural production both in Africa and in its diasporas to reflect the depth and breadth of the
African experience across space and time.
Expected outcomes
• Students to acquire better knowledge of the physical and cultural geography of the
• Enable students to rethink the dominant image of Africa as a continent of conflict,
disease, and exotica
• Introduce students to some of the literatures of the continent and its diasporas
• Expose students to some of the continent’s visual and musical production, youth culture,
and activism
• Provide students a basic understanding of the scope of the field of African Studies not as
a fossilized discipline, but one that is vibrant and related to their contemporary
• Foster students’ critical reading, thinking and writing skills
Required texts
1. Diome, Fatou. The Belly of the Atlantic. Trans. Lulu Norman and Ros Schwartz. London:
Serpent’s Tail, 2008. ($22.95)
2. Ali Farah, Cristina. Little Mother. Trans. Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and Victoria Offredi
Poletto. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011. ($24.95)
These titles will be available at Octopus Books, 116 Third Ave. in the Glebe (613-233-2589).
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Other mandatory readings (articles, book chapters) will be available on Reserve in electronic
format or hard copy. Electronic Reserves may be accessed through the course in cuLearn. Please
see the Class Schedule and Mandatory Readings below for more information.
Course format
Each class will typically consist of a lecture followed by a discussion. The lectures will highlight
the main themes and debates of the course and will work as a guideline to help students navigate
the material. The second part of class will be dedicated to discussing the assigned readings, and
audiovisual materials. Students are expected to come prepared to discuss weekly readings and to
engage in discussions in an informed way. Students are also encouraged to raise questions
concerning the texts.
To successfully complete this course, you must:
1. Have access to cuLearn. This requires a university e-mail account. Access to e-Reserves
for required readings is obtained through cuLearn. All online communication for the
course will be done via cuLearn.
2. Attend classes regularly and on time to avoid disrupting the instructor and fellow
students. Attendance is vital for fostering your understanding of course material. Lectures
complement the readings but they do not replace them.
3. Complete all assigned readings and bring them to class. You are expected to read the
texts before you come to class to benefit from the class activities. You must confirm
ahead of class meetings what the scheduled texts for the class are. If necessary, changes
may be made to the schedule. When absent, you will be responsible for finding out about
any changes made to the schedule or any assignments which were announced in class.
4. Participate actively in discussions. Participation in class is vital for your understanding of
the course materials.
5. Dedicate between 12-16 hours per week outside of class to meet the workload: reading,
writing, research, and analysis.
6. Submit all assignments on time and complete all evaluations. The penalty for submitting
assignments late is 10% per calendar day, including weekends, unless prior special
permission has been granted. If a late submission is unavoidable (e.g., medical reasons),
please inform me before the due date and have written documentation available. All late
assignments must be handed to me in-person either in class, office hours, or by
Class Conduct
1. Arrive on time. Late arrivals are extremely disruptive. If you do arrive late, enter only by
the back doors and sit in one of the back rows.
2. Please turn cell phone ringers off during class.
3. Limit laptop use to course related activity. Students engaged in other activities with their
laptops will be asked to leave the class to minimize distractions for their classmates.
4. Avoid sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks as these will not be tolerated in class. You
must speak respectfully at all times. Any behaviour considered disruptive to the instructor
and/or other students is not acceptable. Students engaging in such behaviour will be dealt
with according to university regulations.
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Attendance and participation:
Map test:
Pop quizzes (best 4 out of 5):
News assignment:
Book review:
Final exam:
10 points
10 points (Wednesday, May 13)
20 points
10 points (Monday, May 25)
20 points (Wednesday, June 10)
30 points
100 points (100%)
Attendance and participation
An attendance sheet will be circulated at the beginning of each class. Participation will be
checked through students’ thoughtful engagement in class discussions.
Map test
The map test gives students a reason to learn about African geography and some relevant facts
about each country. This will be useful for understanding the course content on a broader level.
In order to do well, you are expected to have researched and mastered the following:
• the location of all countries on a map
• the name of the capital city of each country
• the year that formerly colonized countries gained independence
• official languages of all African countries (except South Africa; you must know four of
the eleven.)
Pop quizzes
Five times during the term, there will be an unannounced pop quiz during class. The four best
marks will be counted (5% per quiz). These quizzes can happen at any given time during a class.
The questions will be drawn from lectures and assigned readings and will consist of multiple
choice, true or false, and short answer-type of questions.
News assignment
This is a two-page (approximately 500 words, typed and double-spaced) critique of a news
article. Detailed guidelines will be made available on cuLearn.
Book review
This is a four to five-page (1000-1250 words) critical analysis of a book, not a summary.
Detailed guidelines will be made available on cuLearn. For this assignment, students must pick
one of the following books:
We Need New Names, by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Book of Chameleons, by José Eduardo Agualusa
Ancestor Stones, by Aminatta Forna
Niketche: A Story of Polygamy, by Paulina Chiziane
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Sleepwalking Land, by Mia Couto
My Traitor’s Heart, by Rian Malan
Good Morning Comrades, by Ondjaki
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
So Long a Letter, by Mariama Bâ
A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah
You can find these books on Reserve at the Carleton library or you can decide to purchase the
book of your choice for your review.
Final exam
A three-hour final exam will be held during the official early summer final examinations period
between June 19-25, 2015.
In accordance with the Carleton University Undergraduate Calendar (p. 39), the letter grades
assigned in this course will have the following percentage equivalents:
A+ = 90-100
A = 85-89
A - = 80-84
F = Below 50
B+ = 77-79
B = 73-76
B - = 70-72
C+ = 67-69
C = 63-66
C - = 60-62
D+ = 57-59
D = 53-56
D - = 50-52
Academic Integrity
It is very important to work with integrity and to never pass off someone else’s ideas as your
own. Plagiarism is a serious offence at Carleton University. For the details of what constitutes
plagiarism, the potential penalties, and the procedures refer to the section on Instructional
Offences in the Undergraduate Calendar. A student found to have plagiarized an assignment may
be subject to one of several penalties including: expulsion; suspension from all studies at
Carleton; suspension from full-time studies; and/or a reprimand; a refusal of permission to
continue or to register in a specific degree program; academic probation; award of an FNS, Fail,
or an ABS.
Assistance for Students:
Resources for African Studies:
Student Academic Success Centre (SASC):
Writing Tutorial Services:
Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS):
Learning Support Services:
You may need special arrangements to meet your academic obligations during the term. For an
accommodation request the processes are as follows:
Pregnancy obligation: write to me with any requests for academic accommodation during the
first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to
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exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website
Religious obligation: write to me with any requests for academic accommodation during the
first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to
exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website
Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
The Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) provides services to students with
Learning Disabilities (LD), psychiatric/mental health disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), chronic medical conditions, and
impairments in mobility, hearing, and vision. If you have a disability requiring academic
accommodations in this course, please contact PMC at 613-520-6608 or [email protected] for a
formal evaluation. If you are already registered with the PMC, contact your PMC coordinator to
send me your Letter of Accommodation at the beginning of the term, and no later than two
weeks before the first in-class scheduled test or exam requiring accommodation. Please consult
the PMC website for the deadline to request accommodations for the formally-scheduled exam.
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