|This course introduces students to the diversity and vivacity of life in African contexts through engagement with a variety of voices from across the continent. Many courses about Africa at UO tend toemphasize critical issues impacting African peoples, contributing to many students knowing little about life in Africa other than that there are social problems. The focus of this course is different in its emphasis on the daily lives and expressivity and creativity of people living in a wide variety of social,cultural, economic, and political contexts on the continent.
For this course, a "voice" refers to any kind of communicative act, including stories, novels, poetry,cartoons, personal experience narratives, journalistic writings, songs, music, dance, film, political oratory, dress, blogs, websites, paintings, pottery, interviews, body art, and so on. As students engage with voices from Africa, they will consider the people and contexts involved in its production and reception as well as the ways in which it communicates and functions in order to gain insight into the lives, experiences, and expressivity of individuals and communities. The syllabus is designed to engage with many different types of people from different countries, economic standards, gender, values, ages, political perspectives. Important themes for the course include creativity, expressivity, identity, family,
community, language, gender, class, ethnicity, education, oppression, resistance, religion, politics, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and globalization.
This course satisfies the International Cultures multicultural requirement by providing a critical perspective about intersections between individuals, cultures, and identities in specific African contexts. Students will learn about how people belonging to specific socio-cultural categories (e.g. related to nationality, ethnicity, class, gender, and occupation) use expressive forms in the construction of identities and in the negotiation of power dynamics. Issues related to colonialism, post‐colonialism, relationships between ethnic groups, wars, gender, class, globalization, labor, migration, and democratization will emerge as we consider the multiple ways that expressive forms emerge, transform, and function within situated contexts. This course also satisfies the Arts and Letters group requirement, because it introduces students to modes of inquiry central to the discipline of folklore studies. Students will be introduces to a wide range of perspectives and theoretical approaches to the study of folklore, including theories of culture, creativity, narrative, genre, identity, ethnicity, and gender, as these apply to the study of the cultural expressions of contemporary African people.