Broadly speaking, this course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental role of the arts in the fight of individuals, groups, and nations for civil rights and democracy. More specifically, however, we will comparatively examine the social, systemic, and political structures that impact(ed) the lives of African-Americans in the pre- and post- Civil Rights eras and South Africans in the pre- and post-apartheid periods from both a literary and historical perspective. Through your study and engagement with scholars and leaders from all sectors of society, you will improve your basic understanding of the complex racial dynamics of South Africa and the United States and the impact of segregationist policies on various communities. These experiences will enable you to use this knowledge to analyze your reading, listening, research, and writing about various genres, including the novel, short story, the lyric, film, and poem.
By the end of this course students should have developed a unifying framework that integrates key components of anti-apartheid and African-American protest models, acquired an expanded definition of “literature,” a deeper appreciation of the pleasures and values of African American and South African literature and culture, a cultivated awareness of the function of literature in the construction of democratic and civil rights, and a new perspective on the power of literature to change oneself and the world.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
–apply varied critical approaches to the interpretation of literature
–construct appropriate interpretive questions that lead to a deeper understanding of the historical, political, and cultural connections between the United States and South Africa
–write analytical and evaluative responses to various genres of literature
–articulate the relationship between texts, ideas, and real life
During our travel, we will visit Nelson Mandela’s former cell on Robben Island, journey from the limestone quarries in which he toiled to the seat of power he would later occupy as South Africa’s first Black president. We will also experience the country’s living history through trips to museums, townships, schools, orphanages, churches, communication centers, markets, and other seats of commerce, industry, and culture. As students behold the magic of South Africa from atop Cape Town’s Table Mountain or go on safari through the region’s wildlife reserves, they will come to recognize that South Africa’s true majesty rests with her people.