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Literature, Art and Culture in Africa


Admission requirements

This course is only accessible for students of the MA African Studies


The theme of this year’s course in Literature, Art and Culture of Africa is Post-Conflict History, Memory, and African Cultural Production. Questions of transformation and justice in the aftermath of colonialism, war, and conflict as well as political transitions have been at the top of agendas of African states and have defined their external relations. How to write history so that it accounts for past injustices and trauma and at the same time encourages transformation and does not institute a new hegemonic narrative? How to commemorate heroes, restore the lives of victims while attempting to achieve reconciliation? In this context, attention to memory practices and their mediation by a variety of state and non-state actors is indispensable. Cultural production (including literature, film, art, theatre and other genres) is one of the major media that shape these practices while also critically reflecting on their development.
In this course, we will work towards developing a critical lens for reading literature, film and art as media of public memory. In so doing, we will inquire into the possibilities of re-telling and re-imagining the past by documentary and fictional representations. Students will acquire basic skills of analysing examples of literature, film and visual art.

Course objectives

General Learning Objectives:
The student will acquire the ability to:
1. Formulate judgements, based on a question or problem in the field of African Studies by taking into account social and cultural, academic and ethnical responsibilities linked to the student’s own application of knowledge and judgement;
2. Clearly communicate, both in oral and written form, the outcomes based on the students own academic research, knowledge, motifs, and considerations to professionals as well as the broader public.
Learning skills pertaining to the course:
3. The student will obtain proven knowledge of an interdisciplinary insight into the societies and cultures of Africa;
4. The student will obtain the ability to apply knowledge, insights and different methods from the discipline Literature and Culture Studies in new or unknown circumstances within the domain of African Studies, in order to solve problems, integrate knowledge and deal with complex matters;
5. The student will acquire knowledge and develop critical thinking on constructions of Africa in literature, film and visual art;
6. The student will acquire knowledge of African cultural production engaging with issues of postcolonial history and memory;
7. The student will acquire knowledge and understanding of major debates on cultural memory relevant to African studies;
8. The student will acquire skills of analysing the aesthetics of African texts, films and art in
socio-historical contexts.


African Studies

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 5EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Seminars: 7 x 2 = 14 hours

  • Preparation (film watching): 8 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 104

  • Assignment(s) (presentations): 10 hours

  • Take home exam(s): 4 hours

Assessment method

Presentations (20%): (measured course objective 1-9)
Active participationin class (10%): (measured course objective 1-9)
Take home exam (70%): (measured course objective 1-9)

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Communication between students and seminar leaders;

  • Submission of written work;

  • Exchange of documents and course information

Reading list

Half of the Yellow Sun, film (Biyi Bandele, 2013)
Tadjo, Véronique. The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the heart of Rwanda. Oxford: Heinemann, 2002. (selected chapters)
Vera, Yvonne. Stone Virgins. Harare: Weaver Press, 2002.
Coming on Strong: Writing by Namibian Women. Ed. By M. Orford and N. Nicanor. New Namibia Vooks, 1996. (selected writings)
Endgame, film (Pete Travis, 2015)
Otelo Burning, film (Sara Blecher, 2011)

A list of secondary readings will be provided at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Dr. K. Robbe

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk


A maximum of five students from other programmes than the MA African Studies can join this course.