Tuesday, January 26, 2010
In addition to our classroom discussion, we're holding a blog discussion on Ama Ata Aidoo's play Anowa this week. Please post your commentary as a "Comment" to this blog item. Remember: your commentary may either initiate a discussion thread or continue an existing one. Commentaries, whether initiating or continuing threads, must comport to all other assignment parameters. Due date: Friday, 1/29/10, at 5pm EST.
Friday, January 22, 2010
The talk is today, January 22nd, with refreshments served at 3:30 pm and the seminar at 3:45 pm in ISAT Room 159.
The presentation will trace how the apartheid system has relegated a significant majority of the population uneducated, and how this inequity is now being reaped in the university system in South Africa. South Africa is a critical nation on the African continent as it is by far the most economically developed. However, the nation now faces a severe skills shortage directly related to a struggling educational system. The presentation will be appropriate for a general audience, and is open to the public.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Rev. Lawson's profile: A counterpart of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Lawson was the leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence in the U.S. Civil Rights movement, and continues today as an advocate for the power of collective nonviolent struggle in furtherance of campaigns for peace, justice, freedom, equality, and human rights. Dr. King called James Lawson "The leading nonviolence theorist in the world."
Rev. Lawson will also speak on Monday, January 18th, 2010, as the keynote for the formal MLK program: Wilson Hall Auditorium
7:00p.m. (Doors Open at 6:30p.m.)
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
This course will introduce students to key African, Indian, Caribbean, and Latin American oral and written narratives from about 3000 BCE to the present day. While paying special attention to historical specificity, we will consider the ways in which literatures from various sites around the world suggest varied and dynamic relationships among power, violence, gender, race, ethnicity, and identity formation before, during, and since the imperial incursion. In this context, we will consider the specific material conditions necessary to precipitate organized resistance, as well as the various forms resistance may take. The resulting key questions we will keep before us are: in what ways have power and violence shaped contemporary notions of “the world”? What are some potential responses to past injustices? In what ways can we envision ourselves as productive citizens of our world community? Readings and films are from or are set in Algeria, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, India, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia (formerly British Malaya), Martinique, Mexico, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Palestine, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States.
I expect you to arrive on time and stay until each class meeting’s conclusion. Arriving late or leaving early disrupts everyone’s learning. If you do not attend class, you miss a crucial element of the community learning experience that is a key premise of this course and, conversely, the class misses your unique contributions. Whatever the reason for an absence, the missed learning experience is irreplaceable. If you miss class, you are responsible for obtaining notes, handouts, and assignments from classmates and not from me. More than three recorded absences (one week) will lower your final course grade by one letter. More than six recorded absences (two weeks) will lower your final course grade to an F.
The classroom community can best learn if everyone participates. I expect you to attend each class prepared to contribute productively to discussion and other class activities. Preparation is your reflection on the assigned readings. Productive participation includes, but is not limited to: informed responses to discussion questions related to the readings; thoughtfully answering questions posed in class discussions; sharing your unique perspective or knowledge of course material with the class; and posing questions or offering comments that demonstrate your comprehension and reflection on assigned readings.
Aidoo, Ama Ata. Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa.
Danticat, Edwidge. Krik? Krak!.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Unaccustomed Earth.
Márquez, Gabriel García. Collected Stories.
Soyinka, Wole. Death and the King’s Horseman.
Required Photocopied Readings (reserved at Carrier Library; see schedule):
Armah, Ayi Kwei, and A. K. Lam. Selection from Hieroglyphics for Babies.
Chesaina, C. “The Man Who Never Attended Public Gatherings,” and selected Kalenjin proverbs, from Oral Literature of the Kalenjin.
de Landa, Diego. Selection from Relación de las cosas de Yucatán (Account of Things in Yucatán).
Fanon, Frantz. Selection from The Wretched of the Earth.
Kipury, Naomi. “The Girl Who Married a Crow,” “The Greedy Man Who Almost Went Hungry,” “The Sun and the Moon,” and selected Maasai proverbs, from Oral Literature of the Maasai.
Neruda, Pablo. “The Beggars” and “The United Fruit Co.”
Tlali, Miriam. “Fud-u-u-a.”
Recommended Text: The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th edition or later.
Required Films (reserved at Carrier Library; see schedule):
Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). Dir. Alfonso Arau (DVD #5158).
In the Name of Liberation: Freedom by any Means. Dir. Jon Blair (DVD #957).
Life and Debt. Dir. Stephanie Black (video #7962).
Monsoon Wedding. Dir. Mira Nair (DVD #1893).
Witness to Apartheid. Dir. Sharon Sopher (video #324).
Required Online Resources: Daily access to this course blog for assignments, links, discussion, and announcements.
A JMU email account whose inbox and junk folders you check at least every other day.
30% (2 x 15% each): Learning Activities: During the semester, you will complete two (of four possible) learning activities. You will choose the learning activity that you wish to complete. Each learning activity is listed on the class schedule and must be completed by the listed due date. You may elect to submit a draft of any activity for review and feedback before the final paper is submitted. Optional draft due dates are listed in the syllabus.
40% (2 x 20%): Exams (Mid-term and Final).
20%: Group Community Service Project and Presentation: During the semester, you will form a group with three others to design and carry out a service project on campus and/or in the surrounding community that demonstrates your in-depth understanding of a theme or issue from the course. The project’s purpose is to help students to better understand the artists and the art which we have studied by considering these questions: What social conditions motivate these artists to create? How do they choose their subjects, media, and audiences? How do these artists define “art”? How might the creative lessons learned from these artists inform your own community involvement? Groups will complete the project during the semester. They will then make a presentation to the class at the end of the semester which outlines (and, if applicable, displays) the project’s goals, methodology, outcome, and lessons learned. Projects should above all benefit the community, but projects and presentations must also be creative, well planned, relevant, well researched, and intellectually productive. Your project may engage with an organized service program either at JMU or in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County (see links on course blog for some campus and community examples). More risky, but perhaps more rewarding, the group may elect to design and carry out an original project. Original projects must receive my approval to proceed, but I am happy to consult with students on both original and text-derived projects. Groups must meet with me and present a written project proposal and must receive approval before beginning any collaborative work for credit.
I use JMU’s four-point scale to record and compute grades.
Due Dates: I do not accept late or emailed work. All work is due in class at the start time. See me before the deadline if you do not understand any assignment or run into any other sort of difficulty. If you will be unable to submit your work at the assigned place or time, make arrangements with me before the deadline to submit it early. Work is submitted when I receive it in-hand, not when it arrives in my mailbox or under my office door.
The JMU Honor Code applies to all work completed in this class. Handing in work constitutes your pledge of academic honesty. Plagiarism will result in failing the course and referral for disciplinary action by the Honor Council and the College of Arts and Letters.
If you have a diagnosed disability, it is your responsibility to notify the Office of Disability Services and me so that we can work together to meet your learning needs.
Office Hours: Please feel free to drop by or make an appointment to see me.
Inclement Weather: Class meets if the university is open. If I am unable to get to campus, I will notify the class via email and by having a notice posted outside our classroom door.
M 1/11 Course Introduction: What is (World) Literature?
Oral Narratives and Ancient Writing
W 1/13 Kenya, Tanzania. Maasai and Kalenjin Oral Literature. Kipury. “The Sun and the Moon,” “The Girl Who Married a Crow.”
F 1/15 Kipury. “The Greedy Man Who Almost Went Hungry,” selected proverbs. Chesaina. “The Man Who Never Attended Public Gatherings,” selected proverbs.
M 1/18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. No class.
W 1/20 Egypt. Armah and Lam. Hieroglyphics for Babies (complete drawing exercises and read text).
F 1/22 Armah and Lam. Hieroglyphics for Babies (finish).
Representing the Colonial Incursion
M 1/25 Mexico. de Landa.Selection from Relación de las cosas de Yucatán (Account of Things in Yucatán). Due: Commentary.
W 1/27 Ghana. Aidoo. Anowa, pp. 55-81.
F 1/29 Aidoo. Anowa, pp. 82-102. Due: Online commentary to blog by 5pm EST.
M 2/1 Aidoo. Anowa, finish. Due: Learning Activity: Kid’s Stuff? Optional draft.
W 2/3 Nigeria. Soyinka. Death and the King’s Horseman, pp. 3-37.
F 2/5 University closed -- snow day.
M 2/8 University closed -- snow day.
W 2/10 University closed -- snow day.
F 2/12 Soyinka. Death and the King’s Horseman. Due: (12:20 class) Learning Activity: Kid’s Stuff? final paper. Due: Commentary: online blog post by 5pm EST.
M 2/15 Soyinka. Death and the King’s Horseman.
Art and Armed Struggle
W 2/17 Palestine, Malaya, Algeria, South Africa, and Northern Ireland. Film: In the Name of Liberation. Due: (9:05 class) Learning Activity: Kid’s Stuff? final paper.
F 2/19 Film: In the Name of Liberation. Martinique, Algeria. Fanon. Selection from The Wretched of the Earth.
M 2/22 Chile. Neruda. “The United Fruit Co.” and “The Beggars.” Due: Commentary.
W 2/24 South Africa. Film: Witness to Apartheid. Due: Group Community Service Project Proposal.
F 2/26 Film: Witness to Apartheid.
M 3/1 Mid-term Exam.
W 3/3 Colombia. Magic Realism. Marquez. Collected Stories, “Big Mama’s Funeral.”
F 3/5 Marquez. Collected Stories, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” Due: Learning Activity: Gender and War optional draft.
M-F 3/8-12 Spring Break. No class.
M 3/15 Marquez. Collected Stories, “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother.” Due: Commentary.
W 3/17 Marquez. Collected Stories, “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother.”
F 3/19 Marquez. Collected Stories, “Eyes of a Blue Dog.”
M 3/22 Mexico. Film: Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). Due: Learning Activity: Gender and War final paper.
W 3/24 Film: Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). Due: Learning Activity: “Poetry of Revolt” optional draft.
F 3/26 Film: Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate).
M 3/29 Film: Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). Due: Commentary.
W 3/31 Haiti and Diaspora. Danticat. Krik? Krak! “Children of the Sea.”
F 4/2 Danticat. Krik? Krak! “Caroline’s Wedding.” Due: Learning Activity: “Poetry of Revolt” final paper.
M 4/5 Danticat. Krik? Krak! “The Missing Peace.” Due: Commentary.
W 4/7 Jamaica. Film: Life and Debt.
F 4/9 Film: Life and Debt.
M 4/12 Film: Life and Debt. Due: Commentary.
W 4/14 India and Diaspora. Lahiri. Unaccustomed Earth, “Once in a Lifetime.” Due: Learning Activity: Reading a Region optional draft
F 4/16 Lahiri. Unaccustomed Earth, “Year’s End.”
M 4/19 Film: Monsoon Wedding.
W 4/21 Film: Monsoon Wedding.
F 4/23 Film: Monsoon Wedding. Due: Learning Activity: Reading a Region final paper.
M 4/26 Film: Monsoon Wedding. Due: Commentary.
W 4/28 Lahiri. Unaccustomed Earth, “Going Ashore.”
F 4/30 Final Exam.
W 5/5 Section 1 (9:05 class): 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Group Community Service Project Presentations. Course wrap-up and reflection.
F 5/7 Section 4 (12:20 class): 8:00-10:00 a.m. Group Community Service Project Presentations. Course wrap-up and reflection.
These Learning Activities are designed to get you to think more critically about certain key themes from the assigned readings and films as they relate to the larger aims of the course and to the university’s liberal arts charter of fostering a sense of global citizenship in each student. While various learning activities ask you to perform non-writing or non-linear writing tasks, the final paper you submit will ultimately be a short (three- to four-page) essay. You will append any written lists, interview questions, etc., to the end of the formal essay. I will grade Learning Activity essays on evidence of critical thinking that reaches well beyond the realm of class discussion (depth of engagement with the material), relevance to the course, clarity of expression, and adherence to assignment directions. See the course grading criteria handout for further format and content criteria.
Learning Activity Options
Kid’s Stuff? We have learned that oral narratives and hieroglyphics are both art and tools that teach children how to behave and communicate in their respective cultures. We know that these art/tools can also teach adults. If they can teach both children and adults, then what value do they pose to each group? Can you think of any examples of art forms from your own culture of origin that are also artistic and pedagogical (that is, they teach)? Make a list of five or so and briefly summarize or describe each. Do the items on your list teach both children and adults? If so, how? If not, why might this be? What does this experiment suggest to you about the relationship between art and learning?
Gender and War. On Terisa Turner’s website,
“Poetry of Revolt.” Fanon argues that overthrow of oppressors requires two things: arms and the creation of a national literature, which he calls “poetry of revolt.” Understanding that Fanon did not mean to specify only poems as revolutionary, which other readings or films in this class qualify as poetry of revolt? What makes these examples revolutionary? Can you think of other examples from your other readings outside this class? Does this newly defined “poetry of revolt” genre feature any common themes? What does a “poem” of revolt do? Can/Why/How does it help a people gain independence as powerfully as do guns? What is its usefulness, if any, outside a traditionally-defined revolutionary setting?
Reading a Region. As de Landa demonstrates, early missionaries, imperialists (and, later, colonists) justified their exploitation of natives by creating or reinforcing negative stereotypes about those natives. Many such race- and gender-based stereotypes persist in the former motherlands today in the media, art, and ideology. Choose one of the regions listed in the title of this Learning Activity. Make a list of all the terms or concepts you have come to associate with that region as a result of your accumulated exposure to Western (North American and Western European) media, art, social interaction, etc. Conduct an informal survey of ten people in your residence hall or other organization on their understandings of the same region. What is their initial reaction when you ask them about the region? Do they know that the region in question is a group of many countries rather than just one? How many countries from the region in question can they name? What five words or concepts have they come to associate with this particular region as a result of their accumulated exposure to Western media, art, social interaction, etc.? What, if any, personal or peripheral experience do your interviewees have with this region? Compare your own impressions with those of your interviewees. Do you notice any themes among the impressions you collect? If so, what are they? In what ways, if any, do you think Western media, art, and ideology shapes our/your understandings of this particular region? Are these understandings historically based? Explain. What is the relationship between your social understanding of this region and the one you have gained in this class? What do you conclude based on your research?
Subject Area: Begin with a point or idea that relates to any course reading, class assignment, or discussion that the group would like to explore in a way that was not covered in class. How does the idea or topic relate to a need in any community of which you are a member? How might you translate this interest and identified need into a form of community service through art? What motivates your choices of group formation and for crafting your particular project? How will your project use art and education to achieve its purpose?
Format: Your project may assume one of two forms: (1) design and carry out an original project, or (2) engage with an organized service program either at JMU or in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County. Consider: Does a service option exist in the JMU or surrounding community? (See the service links on this blog for some examples.) If a service does not exist to meet the need you identify, then what service could you design to do so? Because you are free to design your own project, your choice of available project formats is nearly limitless.
Project Purpose: The project is designed to help students to better understand the artists and the art that we have studied by considering these questions: What social conditions motivate these artists to create works to benefit the community? How do they choose their subjects, media, and audiences? How do these artists define “art”? How might the creative lessons you learn from the artists we study—artists whose creations benefit the community—inform your own community involvement?
Timing: All groups must submit a project proposal (see above), and projects must receive my approval to proceed. I am happy to consult during and beyond the proposal stage with groups on both original and university/community-sponsored projects. Please consult with me if you have any doubts or questions regarding an appropriate project topic, scope, or approach. After submission of and approval of a project proposal, the group will complete the project during the semester. The group will make a presentation to the class at the end of the semester in which you will describe (and, if applicable, display) your project. The presentation will outline the project’s goals, methodology, outcome, and lessons learned.
Evaluation: Projects should above all benefit the community, but projects and presentations should be well planned, relevant, well researched, creative, and intellectually productive.
#1: The Proposal (due February 24, 2010): Your project proposal must be typed and include the following elements:
A. The names of all group members
B. The nature of the proposed project: its scope, timeline, research involved, type and amount of work required to complete the project, plan of each group member’s responsibilities toward the project, expected lessons learned
C. Is the project an original creation or does the group plan to join an established service organization? Explain the reasoning behind the group’s choice. If you plan to join an established organization, then you should have already have their approval to participate in their work, and a clear understanding of exactly what each group member will do.
D. The community, as the group defines it, that will benefit from this project
E. The project’s purpose
F. The element from the course from which the project idea derived
#2: The Project (consider these when crafting the group’s proposal): Your project must include the following elements:
A. Educational (and/or political) purpose
B. Artistic format
C. Public benefit: that is, the project must benefit the community. If you organize a showing, reading, or performance, you must invite the rest of the class to attend.
D. Specific audience: who will benefit from your group’s work?
E. Collaboration: this course acknowledges the importance of community. Can you work both as part of a community (group cohesion) and for the community?
F. Each group member must log ten (10) hours or more toward completion of this project.
#3: The Presentation (during our exam meeting; see course schedule): The presentation is your opportunity to report to the class on your project. Your presentation must include the following elements:
A. Presentations will be 10 minutes each
B. Audio-visual (e.g., music, film, art display or creation, overhead slides, etc.)
C. Evidence of research (provide bibliography)
D. An excerpt, summary, or sample of/from your project
Due Date: Your project must be completed in time for you to craft a well-planned presentation on it to deliver during your scheduled presentation time. You will sign up for presentation times after the midterm. There are no make-ups for missed presentation dates or times for any reason.
Purpose: This exercise is designed to foster reading comprehension and analytical skills through your extended reflection on course materials, and through working together as a group. The goal is to advance everyone’s ability to offer productive discussion.
Requirements: Each student will share one typed commentary of no more than one to four sentences in length per week. The commentary must quote from or paraphrase the passage from the reading or film it considers and provide a correct MLA citation for that material. The commentary must identify the reading or film by author and title. Commentaries must be typed, dated, and contain the student author’s name. These may be single-spaced. A commentary may be: a question on current readings/films and evidence of attempting an answer; an answer to a current question the class is currently discussing; or early thinking about an upcoming writing assignment, but thinking that connects to current readings and film.
Here are some examples of possible critical thinking questions to ask yourself. The commentary would seek to answer these:
1. What is a particular strength or weakness of this argument?
2. What is the difference between the points made by two readings/films?
3. How (or why) is this argument or point especially relevant to our course? To the community? In a global context?
4. How could this argument be used in a different context?
5. What are the implications of this particular argument?
6. How does the condition described in the reading affect a different or related kind of group, community, or population?
7. How does this reading connect with what we have already learned?
8. What does this particular point/word/phrase/question mean?
9. Why is this point or argument important?
10. How are these two points/arguments/scenarios similar?
11. What is a counter-argument for this writer’s argument?
12. I agree (or disagree) with this statement: [insert quote] because …. The readings provide ... as evidence to support my claim.
13. What is another way to look at this particular point?
Format: Do not provide a question for your readers to answer. Your aim is not to generate discussion, but to demonstrate that you have been thinking about the readings or films under current consideration.
Evaluation: I will grade commentaries on relevance to the course, clarity of expression, depth of engagement with the material, and adherence to assignment directions. Examples of in-depth engagement with the material are striving for connections across course texts and attempting to answer your own difficult questions. Each week’s commentary will count as one equal fraction of your total class participation/commentary grade. See the course schedule for due dates.
The A paper analyzes. It demonstrates thoughtful connections, explanations, and the application of course themes, ideas, or theory. This paper offers illuminations and evaluations not specifically provided by authors or the instructor. It grasps the assigned author’s complex ideas but also demonstrates the student author's critical processing of those ideas. This paper is focused and developed with significant conclusions.
The A- paper is focused and fully developed.
A B+ paper is focused, but needs to be developed a bit more.
The B paper demonstrates understanding. It uses central and complex ideas, but is a reiteration of these as presented by an assigned author or the instructor. This paper demonstrates an understanding of the assigned text's key complexities, but does not offer any significant depth of analysis. A B paper is focused, but not fully developed.
In a B- paper, the focus is good but needs to be narrowed a bit more.
A C paper shows recognition of the significant material in a body of ideas but deals with it in a superficial way. While the C paper can discriminate between central and peripheral ideas, its function is more reportage than any real depth of understanding. The C paper may advance an original idea but, because it remains on the surface, is not fully focused.
D and F papers are disoriented. These papers are usually unfocused or, if focused, are irrelevant to the course objectives or discussions. The D paper demonstrates no clear idea of its topic. An F paper may or may not be unclear, but it is always incomplete and/or off-assignment.