The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

27 August 2014

Teaching African Women in Cinema, Art and Culture – Pt 1 - Introduction

Teaching African Women in Cinema, Art and Culture – Part 1

During the spring 2014 semester I taught a course that I created called, African Women in Art and Cinema. During the next several posts I will share the course description, interactions, projects and the myriad experiences of the students, as well as give my reflections on the course in the context of an emerging African Women Cinema Studies--Beti Ellerson, August 2014.
Following is the course description as presented in the syllabus:

The course explores visual representation, the gaze and African women’s experience with the visual image across artistic disciplines, especially as it relates to image construction and social location. The course probes issues of identity, power, agency, the body, sexuality, race, ethnicity, gender and positionality at the intersection of feminism, postcoloniality, cultural studies and visual culture. 

The diversity and plurality of African life, history, experience and culture suggests that there is a plurality of African women’s experiences, thus the importance of using an interdisciplinary approach. To better understand African women’s cultural production, it is important to contextualize it within the larger sphere of African history in general, and African cultures in particular. The course explores the history, experiences, tendencies and sensibilities of African women’s artistic practice at the intersection of cultural criticism, postcolonial theory and gender analysis. The course draws especially from continental African women’s cultural discourses.

Understanding that Africa is a vast continent with many different languages, social and political histories, geographic and demographic specificities, as well as religious and cultural practices, the course highlights the plurality of African societies. 

The course explores African cultures, histories and social interactions through the eyes of African women, traversing cinema, material culture, visual culture, sartorial and corporeal practices, music and dance, oral tradition, spirituality, African landscapes and environments, life cycles, African/Western encounters, African diasporas, technologies, resistance and conflicts, African liberation and independences, and the diverse critiques of African societies through their women artists. Central to the goals of the course is to study the particular nature of the diverse African social, cultural, political and economic systems. Thus the course will look at national, regional, continental and international trends and issues.

Themes of ethnicity, gender, religion, identity, relocation and diaspora, trauma and conflict—important issues of the first decade of the twenty-first century—identify some significant themes that will inform the course study.
This course enables an understanding of the complexity and diversity of African contemporary societies, through the eyes of African women. The course holds transforming potential for the students, and will be useful in their career goal of promoting greater understanding of African women’s role in cultural production, through its inquiry and analyses of the intersecting dynamics and focus on critical questions for study.

by Beti Ellerson, August 2014

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