Representations of Africa: Myth and Reality

In the United States, media portrayals of Africa and the people who live there are often clouded by myths and stereotypes. Images of untouched landscapes filled with wild animals, “tribal violence,” and endemic disease dominate many everyday conversations about this vast and diverse continent. Where do these images come from? And who has produced them? What are the stories about Africa that are not being shared?

This course will focus on developing your skills in critical analysis as we consider the representation of Africa and of Africans in cultural texts ranging from feature films, music videos, artworks, novels, travel writing, and newspapers. You will also learn about the ways different scholars have approached these questions and to take your own positions on academic debates over the representation of Africa’s past and its present. We will not only examine the changing image of Africa from beyond the continent's borders, but will also pay attention to the important role that Africans themselves have played in shaping and combating these notions. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

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