OSL Seminar: Africa beyond “Africa”: Literary explorations

Online seminar | 6 October, 20 October, 27 October, 3 November, 17 November, 24 November 2020 (15:00 – 17:00) | 5 EC

Organization: Prof. Dr. Margriet van der Waal (m.c.van.der.waal@rug.nl) and Dr. Astrid Van Weyenberg (a.l.b.van.weyenberg@hum.leidenuniv.nl). For questions regarding content, please contact either Margriet or Astrid. For questions regarding practical matters, please contact the OSL office (osl@rug.nl).

Open to: PhD candidates and RMA students; OSL members have first access. Interested MA students are welcome to participate, but are not able to receive official credits for the course.
Format: Two-hour (online) seminar, active discussion and participation



Although political, sociological, ethnographical or anthropological perspectives from, on and about Africa are frequently examined and discussed, African artistic domains remain relatively underexposed in the Netherlands. This is remarkable, especially when taking into account that African artistic practices are booming – both at home and around the world. In this course, we will problematize a number of assumptions about Africa and explore how contemporary African literature and film invite us to imagine and rethink Africa as part of the world and the location of the future. The seminar is not meant to represent a general overview of African literature and film, but aims to explore a number of topical issues with regard to contemporary literary and cultural production from and about Africa. We will apply an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on the knowledge and expertise from different academic fields working on the topic of African literature and film.

Study material and costs

See programme. All secondary reading material will be made available via OSL. Primary texts (literature) are to be obtained by participants themselves. Access to the film (Girlhood) will be arranged.


  1. Students will (in small groups or individually, depending on the number of participants) prepare a short introduction for one of the weeks, based on the secondary literature, and guide the close-reading and analysis of the literary text/film (50%);
  2. Each student will respond (individually or in small groups, depending on the number of participants) to and reflect on at least one of the presentations (pass/fail);
  3. Each student will write a short paper of ca 2500 words on a topic of their choice related to the overall course topic (50%). The purpose of the paper is to test students’ capacity to comprehend and reflect critically both on the reading material and on the seminar discussions. Students should either have one central research question that they attempt to answer or one central thesis statement that they set out to substantiate.

Students need to write their papers in English and submit them via e-mail to the respective organizer, with the OSL office in the CC. Formally, the papers need to follow in all respects the current MLA guidelines (re. footnotes, bibliography, citation, format) and they should contain the student’s name and student number on the first page. Papers will be checked for plagiarism.

In order to receive the credits for this seminar, students need a minimum grade of 5,5 for each of the two assignments as well as a pass for the response.


Session 1 (6/10): Africa beyond ‘Africa’:

Session 2 (20/10): Reconciliation and commemoration:

Session 3 (27/10): Africa in Europe 1 (historical):

Session 4 (3/11): Africa in Europe 2 (contemporary):

Session 5 (17/11): Diaspora and Afropolitanism:

Session 6 (24/11): Environmental (science) fiction and Afrofuturism:

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