HIS 306N • Images of Africa-W
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
This course will trace the history of representations of Africa and Africans, from classical times to the present. We will examine portrayals in visual art, travel narratives, fiction, journalism, film and television. Students will analyze these representations using multiple historical sources, in order to understand the development of stylized images of Africa and Africans, their subtle changes over time as well as their remarkable persistence. Whenever possible, we will compare these stylized images with the historical record of the people and events being represented.
We will cover a range of topics during the semester. After a brief introduction to African history, we will discuss the meaning and historical development of the concept of race. Next, we will examine representations of Africa from the classical and medieval times, including representations from non-Western sources. We will trace the evolution of images spurred by the trans-Atlantic slave trade as they appeared in Europe and the United States, and follow their development through the era of colonial rule. Finally, we will examine modern representations of Africa, including mass-market images produced by Africans.
READINGS may include: Jan Nederveen Pieterse, WHITE ON BLACK: IMAGES OF AFRICA AND BLACKS IN WESTERN POPULAR CULTURE John Cullen Gruesser, WHITE ON BLACK: CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE ABOUT AFRICA Peter Mark, AFRICANS IN EUROPEAN EYES: THE PORTRAYAL OF BLACK AFRICANS IN FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH CENTURY EUROPE Chinua Achebe, AN IMAGE OF AFRICA: RACISM IN CONRADS HEART OF DARKNESS, THE MASSACHUSETTS REVIEW 18, 4 (1977)