ARTH 207
"Out of Africa": Cinematic Por(Be)trayals of a Continent Fall 2020
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AFR 207
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Class Details

This tutorial provides a focused study of the politics / poetics of visualization and identification associated with film and cinema about Africa from past to present. From colonial-era propaganda newsreels about Africa’s ‘fighting men’ to contemporary white-savior narratives that exploit current socio-political ruptures on the continent for epic effect, films about Africa produced by a primarily Western cinematic regime have proven themselves to be highly effective apparatuses for framing “Africa” as a concept to be summoned time and time again to tell different stories for different audiences, and in doing so privilege particular viewpoints and imaginaries. This tutorial will provide a space for robust discussion and debate about the various representative tropes, conceptualizations, and visualizations that have been used to shape the contours of “Africa” as understood by a primarily Western audience from past to present, and how these same tropes in many ways have come to define the nature of the relationship between film / cinema and the continent over the history of their engagement. In doing so, it will also address how strategic displays and narratives deployed by cinematic productions often support specific power dynamics that locate an idea of “Africa” within paradigms of specific cultural and political understanding. In zeroing in on how such films promote targeted realities for people and places within the continent, this tutorial will address how “Africa” in Western film and cinematic traditions is positioned within a particular framework of understanding that is more often than not irrevocably tethered to a Western imaginary.
The Class: Format: tutorial; This tutorial will be predominantly remote, with student pairs meeting with the instructor on a weekly basis via google hangouts. There may be options for in-person events as the semester progresses, but this is to be determined.
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 2895
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: targeted bi-monthly writing assignments (5-7 pages in length) and bi-monthly peer response papers (2 pages in length)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Art History majors and seniors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH 207 Division I AFR 207 Division II
WS Notes: This course fulfills Writing Skills requirements through its focus on the development of writing proficiency in terms of writing mechanics, syntax, and organization. It is also designed to help students craft a general approach to formulating a well-articulated, compelling argument. Students will receive extensive feedback on bi-monthly writing assignments from both the instructor and their peers as well as a comprehensive mid-semester critique from the instructor.
DPE Notes: This course fulfills DPE requirements through its exploration of issues of 'authentic' representation as they have been applied to representations of "Africa" displayed within the contexts of Western film and cinema. Through discussions of cultural capital and the politics of representation, students analyze how a general African 'identity' has been dictated by Western film culture and how this hegemony is currently being disrupted by an emergent generation of African artists and filmmakers.
Attributes: ARTH post-1800
GBST African Studies

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