AAS 280: SURVEY OF AFRICAN STUDIES
IMAGE OF AFRICA PROJECT
Complete one of the “Image of Africa” projects listed below. Start collecting information from the beginning of the semester. Compile and document your evidence in a journal.
OPTION I: The US Print Media—“Point of View and the Rhetoric of News Reporting”
Part I: Identify 2 major US Newspapers (The New York Times and The Washington Post for example) and explore the way in which each has reported on Africa in the past year or so. What are some of the most frequently covered issues? Who is writing the reports? How are they writing them—i.e. the tone of the pieces? Etc.
Part II: Identify a recent event relating to Africa that has been covered in the American print media and compare US coverage with African coverage of the same event. For instance, you could explore the ways in which US media has reported on violence in Africa. You may choose any African country of your choice, explore how the media sources in those countries (for instance Ghana and Kenyan newspapers) reported on the same event. What are the similarities and differences? Your discussion should be framed around at least 20 newspaper articles. Enter your detailed discussion/analysis in your class journal.
OPTION II: American Popular Magazines—“The Imaged and Imagined”
Investigate how Africa and Africans and issues have been represented in American Popular magazines in the past year or so. Pay close attention how the images or photographs are used to convey various levels of meanings. Then consider the following speculation: Photographs/images in popular magazines occupy a position of special importance for several reasons: First, they are generally meant to illustrate or amplify the meaning or intent of an accompanying story; second, by virtue of the limited and unidirectional nature of the camera, the photograph always illustrates a particular point of view; thus, the magazine photograph can be manipulated by cropping, retouching, positioning on the page and other techniques employed by magazine technicians. Therefore, magazine photographs are in essence representative of the mythical and ideological values of the photographer. Your discussion should be framed around at least 20 photographs/images. Enter your detailed discussion/analysis in your class journal.
OPTION III: US Television Programming—“Perceptions or Reality? The Eyes Have It”
How does Africa feature in television programming in the US? Explore the way in which Africa and Africans are depicted in sitcoms, dramas, or children’s cartoons. You could focus on an entire season of a particular show; or look at specific episodes of different shows. You should expect to put in at least 10 hours of viewing; i.e. frame your discussion around at least 10 shows. What themes are perpetuated? How can you explain this? Enter your detailed discussion/analysis in your class journal.
OPTION IV: US News Programming—“Perceptions or Reality? The Eyes Have It”
How is the US television news media covering events on Africa, if at all? You need not limit your inquiry to Network news alone, but could also explore other types of news programming. What issues are they reporting on? Again, you will be expected to put in at least 10 hours of news viewing, i.e. about 20, half hour news programs or 10, one-hour news programs, or a combination of both. Enter your detailed analysis in your class journal.
OPTION V: Hollywood Goes to Africa—“What Cinema, Whose Cinema?
Part I: Identify and view at least 3 Hollywood films which have a major African component to them. How are Africans and Africa depicted in these films? Does the ethnicity, cultural, class or educational background of the producer/director affect for better or worse the way in which Africa and Africans are depicted? What kind of images of Africa are these films perpetuating? Part II: Pick out 3 indigenous African films (African films defined as films that are produced, directed, and performed in Africa by Africans) and explore the differences and/or similarities (compared to Hollywood films) in the themes presented and the way that they are presented. Enter your detailed discussion/analysis in your class journal. How does the African films serves an educative purpose first and then entertainment. How do these play in the conceptualization of the images about Africa?
Focus on these questions as you write you analysis.
What is the history of these stereotypes; where do they come from [origins]; what do they mean [how they represent Africa/Africans]; what were they used to justify [functions]; how are they being used in the materials you have examined?
Sources for Current Events on the African Continent
Additional African Studies Resources: If you would like to learn more about contemporary or historical issues I encourage you to visit SLU’s African Studies resource page linked above. https://www.stlawu.edu/african-studies/selected-sources-africaafrican-diaspora-studies
Africa’s A Country: An insightful blog focusing on the ways African issues are often misrepresented in global media coverage of the continent. http://africasacountry.com/
http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/AS.html – UPenn’s African studies program offers a lot of teaching materials and links to sources of African related materials
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