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									University of Illinois Fall 2007

ANTH 267/AFST 267 Memoirs of Africa
Instructor: Dr. Alma Gottlieb Office: 386C Davenport Hall Office hours: Wed., 9:30 am – 12 noon Tel.: 244-3515

T.A.: Tim Landry Office: 390 Davenport Hall Office hours: Thur., 2:30-4 pm Tel.: 244-3515

It is through our own narratives that we principally construct a version of ourselves in the world, and it is through its narratives that a culture provides models of identity and agency to its members. -Jerome Bruner (The Culture of Education, 1996, p. xiv) Aims of the Course
This course offers a user-friendly introduction to Africa, the continent that is the cradle of humanity but that is so often represented in stereotypic terms in the mass media. If you‘ve encountered Africa through readings or travels, this course will offer a deeper look at individual lives in a variety of cultural contexts. The texts are all beautifully written memoirs written or narrated by Africans about their experiences growing up and living in selected regions of sub-Saharan Africa as well as Europe. In reflecting on their experiences, the authors of these books weave individual, society and history in rich and complex tapestries, affording insight into distant historical eras and cultural settings. In so doing, they aim to make the exotic approachable while still retaining a sense of the extraordinary. This class thus offers windows into the daily lives of individuals whose leaders may make newspaper headlines but whose own quotidian struggles and joys alike are largely invisible to the wider world.

ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Campus General Education Requirements Fulfilled
This course fulfills the “Non-Western Cultures” requirement that is one of two tracks of the larger “Cultural Studies" requirement. This is also a writing-intensive course that emphasizes revision as a key element in the writing process. Thus you will receive credit for Advanced Composition (formerly Comp II) for this course as well. For further details about UIUC‘s Gen Ed requirements, please see the provost's website:


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Books The following text titles are arranged in the order in which we‘ll be reading them:
Camara Laye, Dark Child (James Kirkup and Ernest Jones, transl.) Buchi Emecheta, Head above Water: An Autobiography Marjorie Shostak, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa Hans Lans, ed., The Story of My Life: South Africa Seen through the Eyes of Its Children Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Copies of all books are on sale at the campus bookstores, Follett‘s and T.I.S.; they will also be on reserve in the Undergraduate Library. In addition, we‘ll read a few articles and book chapters that will be on reserve for our course through the Undergraduate Library‘s e-reserve system.

In this course, you‘ll challenge popular Western media images that are regularly reproduced about Africa by engaging with texts written about Africa by Africans. Assigned work will encourage you to think both analytically and creatively about the material.

Four short essays (each worth 20-25% of your final grade): We [humans] may not be so remarkable for the overall structures we build as for the manner in which we go about building them. When given a free rein we tend to revise, hesitate, change course in mid-stream, take offhand hints, improvise on our mistakes. -Robert Finch, ―Bird‘s Eye View,‖ in Death of a Hornet and Other Cape Cod Essays (Counterpoint Press, 2000, p. 49)
You‘ll write four short essays, each focusing on books we'll read in the course. We'll pass out separate handouts with questions and guidelines for each essay you write. For the first two essays, you‘ll prepare a first draft that will receive comments and suggestions for revision on a Feedback Sheet from a peer, following guidelines that you‘ll receive. You‘ll then have a week to revise the draft and turn it in for a final grade. For the last two essays, you should prepare your own revisions, keeping in mind the feedback you received on the first two papers both from your peers.


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Since you‘ll be turning in your last paper after our last class, we need a way to get you our comments. Please provide a self-addressed envelope—with the required amount of postage, if it‘s an off-campus address--along with your paper. Without such an envelope, your paper won‘t be read, and no grade will be recorded. As we go through the semester, each of your essays should show successive improvement. On evaluation forms we‘ll develop for these assignments, we‘ll evaluate the following: identification and development of a main thesis, or argument; consistent style; creativity; clear structure; accuracy of quotations and citations; smoothness of writing. and command of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Suggested length: Essays # 1, 2, 4: 5-7 pp. each, typed double-spaced; Essay # 3: 6-9 pp., typed double-spaced.

One required campus lecture/event write-up (worth 10% of your final grade):
At some point during the semester, you are required to attend a lecture, film or other event about Africa taking place on our campus, and write a summary of, and analysis of/personal commentary on, the event. Where possible, your paper should make connections to issues discussed in class readings/films. We‘ll supply guidelines for this assignment. We'll inform the class regularly about possible events that you might attend. If you know of a campus event concerning Africa that we haven't announced, please check with Prof. Gottlieb ahead of time if you wish to write about it for class credit; if I approve it, I'll announce the event to the class as well. Suggested length: 3-4 pages, typed double-spaced. Due date: any time up to one week after the lecture or event (if circumstances warrant, please request consideration for an extension ahead of time).

Two newspaper presentations in class:
On. Thur., Aug. 30, you will bring in any current Western newspaper article(s) you can find about sub-Saharan Africa (print or online). On Thur., Nov. 15,, you will bring in some current Western newspaper article(s) relevant to one or more themes from Part 4 (southern Africa). On both days, you will present your newspaper articles as a departure point for class discussion.

Course grade:
Essay # 1 20%


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Essay # 2 Essay # 3 Essay # 4 Essay about campus lecture/event Two newspaper presentations in class

20% 25% 20% 10% 5%

N.B. This syllabus is subject to change.

Readings may be added or subtracted, assignments may be changed, and grade point values may be adjusted, as conditions warrant.

Expectations Participation: Class discussion by YOU will be an important part of this course. You can learn from each other as well as from me. As much as possible, we hope each of you will participate actively and regularly in class discussions. Attendance: We expect you to attend all class sessions. However, we will grant you two “unexcused” absences from class during the semester without penalty. Beyond this, one ―plus/minus‖ from your final grade will be deducted for each unexcused absence from class. (Excused absences include: documented illness or accident, funeral, or other emergency. Acceptable documentation could include: an appropriate note from a doctor or McKinley, or from your dean.) In each case, the relevant dates must be clearly indicated, and please bring the appropriate documentation to class as soon as possible after your absence. Be sure and consult with one of us if you have questions about appropriate documentation in a particular case. If you know in advance that you will have to be absent from class, please let one of us know ahead of time. Promptness, Etiquette: Out of respect not only to your instructor but also to your classmates, we expect you to come to class on time, and to remain in class until the end. If you need to come late or leave early on a particular day because of an unavoidable and desperately important appointment elsewhere, please let us know ahead of time. But we encourage you to avoid making such appointments whenever possible! If you have signed up for another class, or have a work or other commitment, that would require you to arrive late or leave early from class regularly, please make a choice between this class and your other commitment.
Once you enter the classroom, please turn off all cell phones, iPods, pagers, etc.

Late Work: We won‘t grant extensions of due dates for written work except in case of DIRE EMERGENCY. Computer/printer failures don't constitute emergencies! To anticipate technology disasters, plan to finish writing and printing out class


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

assignments the day before they are due. Make back-up disks, or save your work to the convenient (and free) UIUC NetFiles program. Identify back-up printers to use in case the one you usually use fails. Don't count on technology to work at the last minute—it often doesn‘t!

Special Needs: If you have any kind of disability that you think may pose obstacles to your successful completion of the course, please discuss this with Prof. Gottlieb at the beginning of the semester so that we may make alternate provisions to accommodate you. Avoiding Gender Bias in Writing: In all your writing, we encourage you to avoid language that is gender-biased. Using gender-biased language is exclusionary and can be off-putting to many readers; in many cases it is also highly inaccurate. Since English uses gendered pronouns, this can sometimes be tricky. At times, using the plural can help you get around this problem. When that is not possible, using ―him or her,‖ while a bit clunky, is at least more accurate. Other writers sometimes use the male and female indiscriminately, to show how arbitrary English usage is. For example, here is a gender-biased sentence that needs to be rewritten in order to be more accurate (i.e., to include reference to both male and female babies):
―Encouraging your baby to crawl will give him a healthy self-concept and sense of mastery of his surroundings.‖ Possible ways to rewrite this sentence include the following three alternatives: ―Encouraging babies to crawl will give them a healthy self-concept and sense of mastery of their surroundings.‖ ―Encouraging your baby to crawl will give him or her a healthy self-concept and sense of mastery of his or her surroundings.‖ ―Encouraging your baby to crawl will give him a healthy self-concept and sense of mastery of her surroundings.‖ None of these solutions would be ideal in all contexts--you will need to pay careful attention to the context of your writing to determine which alternative works best in your sentence.

Originality of Written Work: We expect that all written work that you turn in for this class is authored by you and you alone, and that it‗s written for this class alone. Using proper citation and reference procedures is key to avoiding even unintentional plagiarism. If you need help with acceptable citation and reference procedures, please consult any reference librarian, or one of us.
Any student found to be deliberately copying from the written


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

work of someone else without acknowledgment--whether from a fellow student, a published author, or anyone else--will fail the course. If you have questions about what constitutes legitimate paraphrasing vs. illegitimate plagiarism, please consult me, or a tutor at the Writing Center. We can work with you and your paper draft, and help clarify the lines between (legitimate) summarizing/paraphrasing and (illegitimate) plagiarizing. To familiarize yourself with the UIUC campus policy concerning plagiarism, please consult the Student Code, which you can read online at:


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Weekly Schedule for Reading and Writing Assignments

Thur., Aug. 23: Introduction to the Course

Tues., Aug. 28: Introduction to Africa Thur., Aug. 30: More Introduction to Africa BRING TO CLASS: 1+ current newspaper article(s) about Africa from the Western press IN CLASS WRITING: What's the most surprising thing you‘ve learned so far about Africa? Tues., Sept. 4: Introduction to the Genre of the Memoir [Reading to be added] HANDOUT DISTRIBUTED: Topics for Essay #1. IN CLASS WRITING: Your life history.

Thur. Sept. 6: Camara Laye, The Dark Child: Introduction, Chs. 1-3. Tues., Sept. 11 : The Dark Child: Chs. 4-6. Thur., Sept. 13 : The Dark Child: Chs. 7-9. FILM SHOWN IN CLASS: ―Alhaji Bai Konte‖ (12 min.). Tues., Sept. 18: The Dark Child: Chs. 10-12. HANDOUT DISTRIBUTED: Topics for Essay #2.

Thur., Sept. 20: Buchi Emecheta, Head above Water: Autobiography: Chs. 1-11. Tues., Sept. 25: WRITING DUE: in class. An

First draft of Essay #1--peer edit

Thur., Sept. 27: Head above Water: Chs. 12-17. Tues., Oct. 2: Head above Water: Chs. 18-26. WRITING DUE: Final draft of Essay #1.


ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Thur., Oct. 4: Head above Water: Chs. 27-33, Epilogue. Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood (first two chapters). Tues., Oct. 9: Film shown in class: "Buchi Emecheta with Susheila Nasta" (27 min.). (Oct. 9 -- cont.) HANDOUT DISTRIBUTED: Topics for Essay #3. ESSAY # 1 RETURNED WITH EVALUATION.

Thur., Oct. 11: Marjorie Shostak, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman: Introduction; Chs. 1-3.

"Why should we farm when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?" - !Kung proverb
Tues., Oct. 16: WRITING DUE: First draft of Essay #2--peer edit in class. Thur., Oct. 18: Nisa: Chs. 4-8. FILM SHOWN IN CLASS: ―Iindawo Zikathixo = In God‘s Places‖ (first third). Tues., Oct. 23: Nisa: Chs. 9-13. FILM SHOWN IN CLASS: ―Iindawo Zikathixo = In God‘s Places‖ (second third). WRITING DUE: Final draft of Essay #2 (Emecheta). Thur., Oct. 25: Nisa: Chs. 14-15; Epilogue. FILM SHOWN IN CLASS: ―Iindawo Zikathixo = In God‘s Places‖ (last third). Tues., Oct. 30: Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa: Preface, Ch. 1-10 (pp. 1-74). Thur., Nov. 1: Kaffir Boy: Chs. 11-22 (pp. 74--139). Tues., Nov. 6: Kaffir Boy: Ch. 23-34 (pp. 139-211). ESSAY # 2 RETURNED WITH EVALUATION. Thur., Nov. 8: Kaffir Boy: Ch. 35-46 (pp. 215-292). Tues., Nov. 13: FILM SHOWN IN CLASS: ―Soweto: Class of '76 [Soweto: Apartheid in Action]‖ (20 min.)

ANTH 267/AFST 267—Prof. A. Gottlieb

UIUC/Fall 2007

Thur., Nov. 15: BRING TO CLASS: some current newspaper articles relevant to one or more themes from Part 3 (southern Africa). Mark Mathabane and Gail Mathabane, Love in Black and White: The Triumph of Love over Prejudice and Taboo (HarperCollins, 1992), first two chapters. Hans Lans, ed., The Story of My Life: South Africa Seen through the Eyes of Its Children. HANDOUT DISTRIBUTED: Topics for Essay #3. [Nov. 20, 22—Thanksgiving break—no class!]

Tues., Nov. 27: Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (chs. TBA). Thur., Nov. 29: A Long Way Gone (chs. TBA). WRITING DUE: Essay # 3 (Nisa, Mathabane, Lans). Tues., Dec. 4: A Long Way Gone (chs. TBA). Thur., Dec. 6 [last class]: A Long Way Gone ESSAY # 3 RETURNED WITH EVALUATION. (chs. TBA).

Mon., Dec. 10 (by 5 pm) WRITING DUE: Essay # 4—in mailbox of Prof. Gottlieb or Tim Landry (109 Davenport Hall)—with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.


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