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English 3140, Spring 2017

African Literature


Today there are 1 billion people living in Africa, speaking perhaps 2000 languages. The continent comprises 20% of the land of the planet, is enormously rich in resources and talent yet much of Africa is desperately poor with vast populations attempting to live on less than $2 per day.

This course seeks to use African literature, memoir, film, autobiography, history, library and on-line sources to begin to understand the enormous complexity of Africa and the challenges and opportunities for the continent. A cornerstone of this course is the idea that knowledge creates responsibility.

africa

We begin our study of the current crisis in Africa by looking at the colonial and early national period and the challenges that European colonialism created for the continent.  We will also learn about climate change, the risks it now poses to life on Earth, and Africa in particular. As we turning to literature from the present we will encounter issues such as economic and political corruption and collapse, resource exploitation, poverty, education, the condition of women, urbanization, emerging economies, the environment, diseases, immigration, etc.

Africa is young and growing quickly; half of the population of Africa is under 20 years old. More than 70% of the world's population growth in this century will take place in Africa. Most of our reading will be about young people, many college age, their life experiences and how they are addressing issues and creating new possibilities.

Learning about Africa often reflects back to a learning about the United States and the rest of the world. A clear goal is to learn that there is more than "a single story."

 

As the students in this class immerse themselves in learning about Africa, they will participate in making a difference in Africa via the Solutions Project. During our reading and study, students will focus on specific issues to engage in additional reading, research, action, and work with African and international organizations dedicated to a brighter future for the continent.

We will engage in reading and discussion, in a threaded on-line computer conference at Nicenet. Our threaded discusion connects reading and research and creates a collaborative, interactive community of learning. Our class will meet in an advanced laptop computer lab that I designed and that will facilitate technology enhanced learning.

Investigations of African life, history, religion, news, politics, etc. will help students learn more not only about the crisis in Africa but its rich and diverse cultures.

In this class students need to be informed about the world, especially Africa.  Students are expected to read regularly the New York Times and other sources. WMU provides a free NYT subscription.

This course fulfills a General Education requirement for Distribution Area IV: Other Cultures and Civilizations. This course will follow WMU procedures regarding academic honesty. Controversy and difference of opinion are welcomed.

Since the class is discussion-based, attendance and preparation are essential. Missing any classes will affect your learning! Missing three classes will lower your final grade and missing five or more classes may lead to failing the course. See my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning.

Dr. Webb's office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605, and his office hours are Mon/Wed after class, and by appointment and email at allen.webb@wmich.edu. (Feeling stress? English 3140 offers free on-line therapy from Eliza.)

Reading

 

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Wangari Maathai, Unbowed
Sembene Ousmane, Xala
Kris Holloway, Monique and the Mango Rains
Helon Habila, Oil on Water
Laila Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Major Assignments

Participation & Computer Conference 10%
Investigations 10%
Things Fall Apart Essay 20%
I-Search Paper 20%
Final Exam 20%
Solutions Project 20%

Electronic Syllabus

Jan 9 Monday Introductions

Join Computer Conference, respond to item "Introductions." Course: "2017 sp African Literature" key: E377607286

Join Remind private phone notification system.  Text "@2017africa" to 81010 (or 586 359 0468) OR go to remind.com/join/2017africa.

Africa: Brief Background (powerpoint - Lecture available in E-Learning)


Jan 11 Wednesday day Google Earth, Africa

1. Study the syllabus and bring questions to class.

2. Spend (at least) an hour on Google Earth learning everything you can about Africa.

3. Continue discussion in on our Computer Conference item "1 Introductions" and enter a post in the discussion "2 Google Earth." As always, respond to at least three classmates.

Jan 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Attend Addressing Threats Teach-In

Jan 18: Wednesday Things Fall Apart

1) Read Things Fall Apart Part I (Chapters 1-13). You can refer to the Character List to keep characters straight. Additional Resources: background on Achebe, Igbo Art, Achebe in the Postcolonial Web, Postcolonial Dialogues.

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading and respond to at least three classmates. Exceed expectations!

Jan 23 Monday

1) Finish Things Fall Apart.

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading and respond to at least three classmates.

3) Bring 3 pages Rough Draft Things Fall Apart Essay to class

4) Optional: Check out the vitual world I created for studying Things Fall Apart called Village of Umuofia.

masked native

Jan 25 Wednesday Solutions Project: Organizing Day

1) Email class about your first Investigation (use "Reply All").

2) Here are some starting ideas related to climate change for the Solutions Project.

Jan 30 Monday

1) Things Fall Apart Essay DUE

2) Africa Map Test and Answers (Study for the map test at liketolearn.)

Feb 1 Wednesday How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

1) Read: from How Europe Underdeveloped Africa Chapters 1-6 by Walter Rodney

Study Questions for How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Take Quiz on How Europe Underdeveloped Africa available from the Home Page for our course in E-Learning (this quiz is "open book," unlike all other quizzes).

Resources: European Slave Trade Map, European Colonialism of Africa Map, Berlin Conference, Chinese Investment

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

3) Watch clip on history of colonialism in Africa. 

Africa: Brief Background (powerpoint, full lecture in E-Learning) Continued

Feb 6 Monday

1) Read from King Leopold's Ghost specifically selections from Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, and Chapter 15. (You may need to zoom in or out to read.)

2) Watch film and clips about ongoing scramble for African resoures:

 

Stealing Africa - Why Poverty? (58min English Subtitles) from Why Poverty? on Vimeo.

3) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 5 classmates.

4) Optional: King Leopold's Ghost documentary. ($3.50)

Feb 8 Wednesday Solutions Project: Organizing Day

Feb 13 Monday Wangari Maathai and Green Belt Movement

1) Read: Unbowed Chap 1-6

2) Watch clip about Wangari Maathai:

 

3) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Feb 15 Wednesday Maathai Con't

1) Read: Unbowed Chap 6-10

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading and respond to at least three other students.

sleep of reason

 

Feb 20 Monday Africa and Climate Change: Presentation by Dr. David Karowe

1) Read: Finish Unbowed and take Unbowed Quiz on E-Learning.

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Feb 22 Wednesday Solutions Project: Organizing Day

Solutions Project Assignment Due

Feb 27 Monday Climate Change Continued

1) Read McKibbon Eaarth, Chapter 1

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmate

3) Prepare Google Slide Presentation on topic from Eaarth: Where are we in 2017?

Mar 1 Wednesday Climate Change Continued

1) Continue Google Slide Presentations

Mar 6-10 Spring Break

Mar 13 Monday New Class of African Leaders

1) Read: Xala, Character List, take Xala Quiz in E-Learning

before 11:30 pm on Sunday.

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading.

3) Optional: Watch: How to Rob Africa; Read comments on Xala on the Postcolonial Dialogues, Postcolonial Web, & Watch film Xala:

 

 

 

Mar 15 Wednesday Women and Village Life

1) Read: First half Monique and the Mango Rains

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Mar 20  Monday

1) Read: Finish Monique and the Mango Rains, take Quiz in E-Learning before 11:30 pm on Sunday.

2) Watch clip about Kris Halloway

3) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading.

Mar 22 Wednesday Oil and the Niger Delta

1) Read: Niger Delta Background

2) View Sweet Crude promotion reel:

 

Also: this video about the Coltan trade in Congo Coltan trade, scramble for African oil, scramble for African farm land, scramble for African iron ore, and other sites, films or resources you can find via Google looking under "new scramble for Africa."

3) View Violence and African Men in Hollywood

4) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Mar 27 Monday

1) Read: Oil on Water, Chapters 1-8

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading , and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Mar 29 Wednesday 

1) Read: Oil on Water, Chapter 9-14

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Apr 3 Monday

1) Read: Finish Oil on Water and take Quiz in E-Learning

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

3) Due: 3 pages of rough draft of the I-Search Paper

Apr 5 Wednesday Solutions Project: Organizing Day

Apr 10 Monday Migration

1) Read Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Part I (to page 112) Character List

2) Watch The ImmigrationTrail documentary (2006).

3) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading and film.

Apr 12 Wednesday Solutions Project: Organizing Day

Apr 17 Monday Migration Con't

1) Finish Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits and take Quiz in E-Learning.

2) Write a post on our computer conference on the reading and film, and respond to at least 3 classmates.

Apr 19 Wednesday

1) I-Search Paper Due

2) Solutions Project / Share ideas for the Final Exam.

------------------------- Finals Week Apr 24-28-------------------------

Apr 27 Thursday 12:30-2:30 Final Exam

Solutions Project Self-Evaluation Due

Final Exam

 


created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
updated: 1/17