This writing-intensive course explores West African history through texts composed and performed by women of the region from the thirteenth century to the present. By examining a variety of sources–oral tradition, legal records, women’s popular songs, Islamic pedagogical verse, personal correspondence and novels–we will consider how women’s experiences challenge dominant narratives of history that have often excluded them. The course will explore the extremely varied lives of individual women in West Africa: those who have served as powerful political leaders, but also those who paid dearly for contesting political authority; those who have played central roles in the daily life of their communities as well as those who have been excluded; those women who have transgressed expected gender roles alongside women who have embraced them.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
discussion participation, map quiz, weekly response papers and a 10-page final academic paper or creative writing project
first-year students, and then sophomores who have not previously taken a 100-level seminar
Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Students will write short papers (2 pages) each week in response to a prompt about the assigned reading. Instructor will provide feedback on argument and content for each paper, with suggestions for improvement. Students will also write a 10-page review of a recent novel that integrates historical research. The review project will be broken down into multiple drafts throughout the semester, with feedback provided by the instructor and peers.
Texts in this class lay the groundwork for discussions about how different groups of women in West Africa have experienced power and inequality along differences of gender, race, slave/free status, marital and motherhood statuses, religion, and class. Close readings of primary texts equip students to understand how women in West Africa have understood and responded to structures of power and inequality. Students analyze how historical narratives change when marginalized actors are prioritized.
HIST Group A Electives - Africa