African 700: Reading and Writing African Cultural Studies

Jo Ellen Fair

3 credits

This is a course on academic writing, designed to guide graduate students and advanced undergraduates toward a full understanding of the craft of marshaling evidence to support an argument in the humanities, particularly African cultural studies. It covers the norms and expectations that inhere in academic writing as well as the mechanics of producing original scholarship in a distinctive, accessible voice while adhering to these norms and expectations.

The course will begin with a review of scholarly rules and conventions, including citation standards and techniques across the breadth of the field and determining what constitute evidence and originality in humanities scholarship. We will review citation systems and the style sheets of important journals and presses in African cultural studies to gain an appreciation for the nuances of allowed form. Next we will explore how representative authors in different African cultural studies subfields (literary criticism, music studies, media studies, language pedagogy, creative nonfiction) have met the challenge of building evidence to produce arguments in their own distinctive voices while adhering to the norms and expectations we have covered. Over the course of the semester we will interact with one or two editors in our field to gain an inside understanding of what editors seek, thematically, stylistically, and especially in terms of quality of writing, originality, evidence, documentation, and citation.