SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Perspectives on African experience

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The module is designed to provide students with a good general introduction to the work of critics and writers who are either from Africa or of African-descent and who examine the historical legacy of Africa and its Diaspora by engaging with such important themes as self-representation and cultural identity. While helping students come to an understanding of how the African experience has been examined and engaged with in terms of the historical vicissitudes of the people of the continent and its Diaspora, the module also aims at helping and encouraging them to develop critical and analytical skills that move away from dominant Eurocentric and Western perspectives. In this way, the analysis of Africa’s historical legacies vis-a-vis issues and questions of representation and self-representation aims to ultimately to generate new and fresh ways of thinking about African experience.


Taught over 22 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This module exposes students to the varying perspectives from which African experience has been perceived, analysed and interpreted through time. It presents a cross-section of such interpretations and encourages students to evaluate them in their historical and ideological contexts and in terms of contemporary realities in Africa. The module is organised around specific themes: Africa’s contact with Europe; slavery and colonialism; African and Diaspora responses to slavery and colonialism; contemporary thought and the search for a new epistemology. Lectures, seminars and discussions grapple with ideas and perspectives around these themes as a way of generating new and fresh thinking on African experience.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written paper taken in May/June (70%), one 2500 word essay to be submitted on day 1, term 2 (15%); one 2500 word essay to be submitted on last day of term 2 (15%).

Suggested reading

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


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules