May 18-June 14
Fulfills Elementary, Humanities, Comm B
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bruce Banner identifies a word belonging to an “African dialect.” Elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, Black Panther’s East African Wakandans speak Xhosa, a South African language. In The Book of Mormon, the Ugandan characters introduce “Hasa Diga Eebowai” as a farsical equivalent to “Hakuna Matata,” a Swahili phrase Disney has sought to copyright.
In this online class, you will explore such popular representations of African languages, right along aside yours’ and others’ preconceptions, to think about social attitudes and (mis)understandings of African language speakers. Although our main examples will be about Africa, the goals of this course are to examine the relationship between language, ideas, and power, and to evaluate and create our own equitable representations. Thus, students interested in writing about other languages are welcome.
Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to maintain a critically self-reflexive journal; to present on a representation of an African language that we do not address in class; and to write a short analytical essay which you will have the opportunity to return to, revise, and expand (with the help of your peers) into a longer, final essay. Too, you will practice skills essential for research on language, including interviewing, transcribing, and performing critical discourse analysis.