African 605: African Screen Media


Screens have been the sources of news and narrative, as well as the venues for pedagogy and revolution in Africa since the invention of the motion picture. Today, Africa is the home of major innovations in the use of screen media, not the least of which is the “video film” phenomenon typified by Nollywood in Nigeria. What content has appeared in African screen media over the last 100 years? What purposes has it served? How do audiences react to African screen media? What are the politics of motion picture production and consumption in Africa? These and other questions will motivate our study of specific examples and theoretical studies of various screen media.


This course will introduce students to examples of African screen media from colonial cinema to postcolonial film and television, as well as content circulated via computers and mobile devices. Students will also be introduced to the scholarly analysis of film and media industries. A variety of analytical approaches will be fostered, including narrative and visual analysis, media industry analysis, genre analysis, historical and political analysis, and much more. A combination of readings, film screenings, lectures, student presentations, and small and large projects will offer students the opportunity develops skills for critically thinking about the relationship between motion pictures and society.


Students will screen films, television programs, and social media sites at home and discuss them in class. Readings will focus on analyses of media, film theory, and historical and political contexts relevant to African screen media production. Major assessments will consist short papers. Students will also practice analyzing motion pictures by presenting "Shot Analyses."

Sample Readings: Selections From

Manthia Diawara: African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics

Jonathan Haynes, Nollywood: The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres

Brian Larkin, Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Culture in Nigeria

Birgit Meyer, Sensational Movies: Video, Vision, and Christianity in Ghana

Laura Fair, Reel Pleasures: Cinema Audiences and Entrepreneurs in Twentieth-Century Urban Tanzania

Mahir Saul and Ralphe A. Austen, Viewing African Cinema in The Twenty-First Century

Alexie Tcheuyap, Postnationalist African Cinemas

Vlad Dima, Sonic Space in Djabril Diop Mambety's Films

Martha Evans, Broadcasting the End of Apartheid: Live Television and the Birth of the New South Africa

Lila Abu-Lughod, Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt

Katrina Daly Thompson, Zimbabwe's Cinematic Arts: Language, Power, Identity

Other readings on cinema, video film, television, social media, and African critical theory will be made available to enrolled students