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Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Representations and transformations: South African drama and film

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



Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should:

  • have a sound knowledge of South African history, and South African film history
  • have a general knowledge of world film history and the history of film theory
  • have a general knowledge of different theoretical and critical methods for approaching film (e.g. through postcolonial theory, film studies, media of anthropology)
  • be able to analyse different kinds of films (including fiction and documentary)
  • show confidence in expressing his/her views both orally and in written form


The course is taught by means of a 2-hour lecture/seminar and a 2-hour film screening every week over Terms 1 and 2.

Scope and syllabus

In this course we will explore the ways in which South Africa (pre-apartheid, during apartheid and post-apartheid) has been represented through feature and documentary films, literary texts and their screen adaptations, as well as a few dramatic texts. The aim of the course is thus two-fold: to consider the relationships between different artistic media (film, literature, and drama) and their various abilities to represent and shape South African cultures and communities; and to chart the history of artistic (primarily cinematic) production in the South African context. Prospective students should note that no prior knowledge of South Africa or film studies is required.

Method of assessment

One two-hour written examination taken in May/June (40%); one essay of 2,000 to be submitted on day 1, term 2 (10%); one essay of 4,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 3 (30%); short analyses papers (500 - 1,000 words) 20%.

Suggested reading

The reading list for this course will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the course.