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Love Stories from Black Africa

ENGL 200.301
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This course aims to introduce students to canonical and contemporary black African Anglophone literature and film. In particular, it will explore how twentieth and twenty-first century black African short story writers and filmmakers depict and conceptualize (romantic) love. How is the representation of (romantic) love in black African literature and film entangled with the politics of gender, sexuality, class, and race? How do love stories help us examine difficult conceptual questions about love? What ideologies underpin our narratives of love? 

Using a comparative approach, we will analyze various types of love stories, from locations as different as Kenya, Nigeria, DR Congo, and South Africa. We will also discuss issues related to the production, distribution, and reception of African cultural products within a globalized marketplace. What are the conditions under which these cultural texts are produced? How does the process of making meaning from them change as they move from Africa to the rest of the world? What kinds of audiences consume them in Africa, and what other kinds of publics do they reach abroad? We will explore what it might mean to engage with them from our particular location as readers. How do their political depictions of love resonate with us from our particular locations today?

Course material might include short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Monica Arac de Nyeko, and selections from BrittlePaper’s An Anthology of Queer Art (vols. 1&2). Films might include: Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki, Mati Diop’s Atlantics, Joseph Gai Ramaka’s Karmen Gei, and selected Nollywood fims. Course assignments will include a final paper and short close readings of narrative and film. No prior knowledge of film analysis is required for this class.