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Ball State University, spring 2011Issued January 11, 2011

Weiss, HONRS 189

spring 2011

HONRS 189-07 CRN: 79700

African Literature (3 Credits)*

TH 5p-6:15p BA117

Professor: Kellie D. Weiss Office Location: RB 242

Office Phone: 285-8376Office Hours: T/H 3:30p-4:30p and by appt.

Email: kdweiss@bsu.edu

Course Description:

This course is designed to help students better understand the struggles of recovering nationhood and national identity on the part of African nation-states after centuries of colonization. The majority of our readings will come from post-colonial black African writers concerning the struggles of African nations to regain autonomy and assert their agency over self-representation through politics, language, and context.

In exploring the resonances of colonialism we will also explore the ways that black African authors have tried to resist, respond to, and/or destroy these resonances. The course begins with texts that consider the responsibilities of Western critics of African texts. Then we will look at major authors and ideas. After we have had a chance to develop some frameworks and tools through the course for the ethical analysis of African literature, we will critique, as a class, the movie District 9. Open only to Honors College students.

Course Objectives:

1. to make all students aware of the critical lens with which they approach non-white literatures.

2. to introduce students to important voices in major debates about Africa(ns).

3. to encourage student to enter into important conversations about black Africa(ns).

4. to help students develop critical frameworks for ethnically approaching non-western texts.

Course Rationale:

Interdisciplinary exploration of the commonalities and diversities in global culture, economy, history, politics, and society; emphasizes the non-European, non-North American world.

Texts and Materials:


J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

Maryse Conde, Heremakhonon

Chinua Achebe, A Man of the People

Strongly Recommended

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

Required Technical Competency:

During this course email and BSU Gradebook will be used extensively. You are required to check your email on a daily basis. Blackboard will house copies of course materials. If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with any of these technologies, you should contact the Help Desk at 285-1517 or email helpdesk@bsu.edu. You must also have basic computer literacy skills and be comfortable using Microsoft Word or a comparable word processing program.


Grades will be calculated on a +/- scale

35% - Final Project with Accompanying Paper or Final Paper

30% - Journals

15% - Working Annotated Bib

10% - Final Project Proposal (4-5 pages)

10% - Class Participation (or quizzes)

Description of Course Requirements:

Policy for Class Participation/Readings Quizzes

I expect that each student participate during class at least once a week. If I feel that the majority of students have not read the assigned materials, I will start giving quizzes (worth 5 points each) instead of participation points. Five point quizzes will be given at the beginning of each class on the assigned reading(s) for that day. Questions can come from the text or the biographical notes on the author. You must be present in class and on time to take the quiz. There are no quiz make-ups.

Policies for Papers and Pre-Class Journals

The papers must be sent electronically as email attachments. You will receive a confirmation from the instructor that your paper was received. If you do not receive this email, please send the paper again. Keep your initial email until you receive my confirmation. The original email is your only proof that you turned the paper in on time. Any paper time-stamped after the due date and time will be considered late and ten (10) points will be deducted. Unless a student has made prior arrangements with the instructor, assignments more than one week late will not be accepted.

Pre-Class Journal Writing Assignments

I cannot stress enough that these journal entries will be graded for content rather than length. I have given you a very loose word count range. Use these suggestions to guide you rather than limit you. I do not want to read filler sentences. If you feel like youre babbling, then rethink your thesis. Determine what it is that youre arguing and what evidence you need to make your case, and then write it. All writing assignments should be typed, dated, and kept in a folder. I will collect these at the start of class. If you cannot attend class on a day that a journal is due, email the journal entry to me before class begins.

Research Paper/Project

Take any aspect of African culture, develop a project or paper (6-8 pages) that explores the ways that white writers (authors or critics) and black African writers (authors or critics) approach the topic in different ways. The goal of this project is to represent and engage with a conversation.

You will need to include at least 15 outside sources (primary and/or secondary) for this assignment. We will meet face-to-face toward the end of the semester to discuss this project. I encourage you to work in groups for this project.


This is a formal proposal of 4-5 pages that should include the goals of the final project, a literature review, and a description of what form the final project will most likely take.

Final Exam

The final exam will be an in-class analysis essay on the movie District 9.

Annotated Bibliography

Throughout the semester students will compile a list of resources that they may use for their final project/paper. Every two weeks I will collect a new annotated bibliography of at least 2 resources that the student believes might help him/her in the creation of the final project. Although the focus of this course will be on the struggles of Black Africans to recover control over their own history, this assignment allows students the flexibility to explore the topic from any disciplinary angle.

Bonus Points

Local (Daily News) and National (New York Times) Periodicals

Although it is the hope of all editors that their publications will go to press error-free, this is often not the case. In order to raise your awareness of grammatical and mechanical issues in your writing, I will offer one (1) bonus point for any error that you find in a local or national periodical. The error must be from a recent publication (within the last week) and you must provide a copy of the error as well as offer what the correction would be. These bonus points will be added to the points for your final paper and are limited to three total points per semester. These bonuses are offered on a first come first serve basis. The first person to point out a specific error, via email or in-person, will get the point.


I have posted a list of vocabulary words on Blackboard. These were selected from the American Heritage Dictionary 2005 list of words that all college students should know. You have the option of including up to two of these words in your final paper. You will receive one (1) bonus point for each word that is used correctly. Vocabulary words must be included in the original paper and cannot be added later to revisions.

Museum art card

You can earn bonus points for attending events at the campus museum and getting stamps for these events on your art card. Please list the specific session you attended. For instance, you should indicate the piece of art that was being discussed or the name of the speaker, in the case of a lecture. For every four stamps that you collect, you will earn one bonus point (up to three bonus points total per semester). For information about museum events, visit http://www.bsu.edu/artmuseum/events/

Course Rules and Regulations:


Attendance is a necessity, whether you would like to pass the course with an A or a C. Students can miss three classes without penalty. For each class that you miss, beyond three, your final grade will drop one full letter. If you are more than 15 minutes late or leave more than 15 minutes early without permission, it will be counted as an absence.

Classroom Behavior and Discussions

Students engaging in any behavior deemed inappropriate or unsafe for the classroom environment will be warned once. If the behavior continues, then the student may be asked to leave the class or to be dismissed from the course permanently. This policy will apply to, but is not limited to, cell phone usage, disruptive conversation or behaviors, consistently arriving late or leaving early.

I expect all class interactions to be appropriate and assistive. I have one overriding rule for discussions: You are free to disagree with a students viewpoint, but I will not allow a verbal attack on the person themselves. Students who do not follow this rule will be warned once and, if the incident re-occurs, the student will be asked to leave for that class session. Continued disregard of this rule may lead to permanent removal from the course.

Late Assignments, Revisions, and Re-Scheduling of Exams

Late assignments will not be accepted, unless prior permission has been given by the instructor. The final paper will be graded during our face-to-face meetings. If you would like to completely revise that paper, you may do so before the assigned paper deadline. There will be no rescheduling of exams unless the student can show a conflict with another scheduled exam. If there is an illness or death in the students immediate family, he/she must inform the instructor of this before the scheduled exam time and present documentation in the form of a doctors notice that excuses the student from that exam or a copy of the published death notice before the exam will be rescheduled.

Mid-semester and Final Grading Procedures:

Students can access their current grades through BSUs Gradebook. Any discrepancy in the final grade must be addressed before May 7th. If you lose any graded material, then the grade that I have originally registered for the lost material will stand.

American Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement:

If you need adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. I am available at the times indicated above and also by appointment.

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism:

Academic dishonesty and plagiarism will not be tolerated. Please review the Student Academic Ethics Policy 7.1 in the Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities. This policy includes a definition of plagiarism. If a student has any question about what constituted plagiarism, he/she should speak with me for clarification before the assignment is submitted.

Course Schedule:

Selected materials are available on Blackboard (BB).

The Struggle for Self-Representation of Black Africa(ns)

Jan 11 Syllabus and Orientation to the Course

Jan 13 Simon Gikandi, African Literature and the Colonial Factor (BB)

Lectures on the Impact of the Slave Trade, Conrad Heart of Darkness, Early Mapping and the Peters Projection

Jan 18 Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (Chapters 1-2)

Journal Entry #1

Jan 20 Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (Chapters 3-4)

Journal Entry #2

Jan 25 Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (Chapters 5-6)

Journal Entry #3


Jan 27 Lectures on Negritude, Frantz Fanon, Mary Louis Pratt (BB)


Feb 1 Conde, Heremakhonon (Section 1)

Journal Entry #4

Feb 3 Conde, Heremakhonon (Section 2)

Journal Entry #5

Feb 8 Conde, Heremakhonon (Section 3)

Journal Entry #6


The Logistics of Revolutionizing Thought and Action

The Pen v. the Sword

Feb 10 Nawal El Saadawi Dissidence and Creativity (BB)

Generic Choices


Feb 15 Viewing: A Drink in the Passage

Lecture, History and Art: The South African Example


African Context

Feb 17 Isidore Okpewho Oral Literature and Modern African Literature (BB)

Feb 22 Steve Biko, Soyinka, and AIDS poems (BB)

Feb 24 Adeleke Adeeko My Signifier is More Native than Yours: Issues in Making a Literature African (BB)*


Mar 1 Abiku Soyinka and Diop, Bessie Head (BB)


Mar 3Meet at the Ball State University Museum of Art



Mar 8 Spring Break (No Classes)

Mar 10Spring Break (No Classes)

African Language

Mar 15Achebe (BB)

Ngugi wa Thiongo Language of African Literature (BB)


Mar 17Mandatory Meetings about Final Projects

MONDAY, March 21st Course Withdraw Period Ends

African Governance

Mar 22Writings from Political Prisoners (BB)

Mar 24Achebe, A Man of the People (Chapters 1-5)

Journal Entry #10:

Mar 29Achebe, A Man of the People (Chapters 6-10)

Journal Entry #11:

Mar 31Achebe, A Man of the People (Chapters 11-13)

Journal Entry #12:


Apr 5Lewis Nkosi, plays and poems


African Landscape

Apr 7La Guma, A Walk in the Night

Apr 12Meetings to Discuss Final Projects

Apr 14District 9, Viewing and In-Class Writing (Journal #13)

Apr 19District 9, Viewing and In-Class Writing (Journal #14)

Apr 21District 9, Viewing and Class Discussion

JOURNALS #13 and #14 DUE

Apr 26Final Project Presentations

Apr 28Final Project Presentations

Final Exam Meeting: Friday, May 69:45am-11:45am

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