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Elective: Censorship and Social Transformation: The Past and Present of Artistic Freedom in South Africa and Russia

Vak
2013-2014

Admission requirements

This course is open for students of BA International Studies only. The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

The histories of censorship in Soviet Russia and apartheid South Africa are among the most notorious examples of centralized ideological repression pervading all areas of public and private life. It was in opposition to these sophisticated systems of social control that most interesting and provocative literary and art practices had been developing, particularly between the 1960s and 1980s. Many of them were important vehicles of protest that contributed to the eventual disestablishment of the repressive regimes. The processes of uneven transformation in both societies after the political change, however, reveal the complexities and paradoxes at the heart of censoring mechanisms. Exploring their mutations over time and space, one is urged to ask: Is constitutionally declared or even partially institutionalized freedom a precondition for the flourishing of art? And, on the other hand, do revolutions in art facilitate social change?
This course proceeds from a broad understanding of censorship as involving not merely legal regulations, but specific patterns of speaking, listening, and viewing, including the practices of euphemization and double talk, the dynamics of particular social groups (intelligentsia) in relation to the shifting class and race boundaries, and the development of new aesthetics. Its aim is to examine the many faces of censorship – its manifest and structural dimensions, censorship imposed by the state and by market forces, the entanglement of political and moral reasoning, and the ambiguous relations between censors, writers and critics.

The course will consist of several blocks, focused on Russia and South Africa past and present. Our readings will, first, centre on critical and literary texts from the “transitional period” to investigate how they were reflecting on change and thereby forging new values and standards. Secondly, we will explore more contemporary visual practices of negotiating censorship along with debates around exhibitions and activist projects. In the last part, we will engage the current debates on the freedom of media and discuss some recent work of creative journalism. Throughout the course, participants will be encouraged to reflect on the paradoxes of freedom and repression in other regional contexts.

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable will be available on the BA International Studies website this autumn.

Mode of instruction

Tutorials and supervised research.

Assessment method

Weekly assignments, and a final paper of approx. 4-6,000 words (excluding tables and bibliography).

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

  • Coetzee, J.M. Giving Offence: Essays on Censorship. Chicago Univ. Press, 1996.

  • Coetzee, J.M. Waiting for the Barbarians. London: Secker and Warburg, 1980.

  • Gordimer, Nadine. The Essential Gesture: Writers and Responsibility

  • Vladislavic, Ivan. Propaganda by Monuments and Other Stories. Johannesburg: David Philip, 1996.

  • Tolstaya, Tatjana. The Slynx. New York: The New York Review of Books, 2003.

Registration

Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Remarks

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