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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

African language literatures (oral and written)

Course Code:
155900677
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

Prerequisites

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate . . . 

  1. a knowledge of the major genres and forms of oral and written literature in a number of major African languages
  2. familiarity with the critical discourse and theoretical debates surrounding orality and literacy in the African context
  3. an ability to compare genres, themes and content across a number of African literatures
  4. a familiarity with the contextualisation of cultural forms in social, political and economic contexts
  5. an experience of guided study of a particular expressive cultural form in an African language

Workload

Total of 22 weeks teaching consisting of a one-hour lecture and a one-hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

This course discusses literature in indigenous African languages. This literature is both oral and written and the course covers issues relating to performance and context, the role of literary expression in society, voice and power, the notions of tradition and innovation, memorization and form in literature.

Oral literature, by its very nature, is performed literature, which is reflected in the use of video and audio material in some of the lectures in the course. Key questions of orality – who is performing, to whom, and with what intent – regularly recur, while issues of genre are equally important for oral and for African written literary traditions. The student will find many themes addressed in the examples, ranging from love lyrics, praise verbal art, expression of religious feeling to articulation of the experience of colonialism, the struggle for independence and the present political realities facing people in different parts of Africa.

Method of assessment

One written examination (70%) taken in May/June; one essay (15%) to be submitted on day 1, term 2; and one essay (15%) to be submitted on day 1, term 3.