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Special Topics in Liberal Studies
George Clark, Associate Professor of English
Wed 6:00-8:40pm Curtin Hall 939


Spirit Stories from Southern Africa

Course Description:
With the dissolution of the British Empire, writers from the former southern African colonies were free to forge their own national literary traditions, discover new methods and forms of storytelling, and reshape the English language to better express their cultures and perspectives. The result has been an explosion of new and innovative writing that has changed the way in which the world tells its stories. In this course we will explore fiction, memoir, essays, poetry, music and lyrics, films, folktales, and other works depicting human transcendence and failure by writers and artists from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, positioning the texts within a variety of contexts including religion, folklore, demographics, geography, economics, history, and politics. We will also discuss these works in terms of craft, structure, and technique. Brief excerpts from contemporary post colonial theory will be included to enhance our understanding of the authors and their texts.

Assignments:
There will be two writing assignments: a six-page essay that takes an interdisciplinary approach to an assigned text (historical, psychological, political, etc.); and a six-page essay that explores thematic connections between several of the course texts. In addition, you will be required to complete a number of brief written responses to the readings.

Readings:
Thomas Mofolo, Chaka
Alexandra Fuller, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood
J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
Alexander McCall Smith, The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Reading Packet including works by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Yvonne Vera, Dambudzo Marechera, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Nelson Mandela, Thomas Mapfumo, Ken Barris, Ivan Vladislavic, along with examples of traditional poetry and folktales.

Films:
Tsotsi
The God's Must Be Crazy
Jit
Zulu
Stander
Duma


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