Reading Responses

You will write a 300-word response to the readings for each session. These posts are due by MIDNIGHT the day before class. Your responses will engage critically with the upcoming session’s readings, summarizing the questions they raise and key arguments, how the pieces relate to one another, what remains unclear or leaves you perplexed, what you disagree with, etc. I ask that you find current examples—current events, music, images, news articles, films—with which to think through the readings: either as illustrations, or counterexamples, or as openings onto new directions. Your responses will not only help you synthesize and integrate the readings for your own learning, but also serve as the starting point for our in-class discussions and create an archive of our work as a class over the course of the semester. You will be exempted for one of the 10 required responses during the semester without penalty.

Student Examples

Reflection 4: The Politics of Representation (PDF)

Reflection 6: Value and Authenticity (PDF)

Reflection 7: The Duty of the African Writer? (PDF)

Reflection 9: Science and Technology in and from Africa (PDF)

The examples above appear courtesy of an MIT student and are anonymous by request.


You will write a 5-page paper that will be due during Session 7. You will bring the analytical tools we have discussed in class to bear on the analysis of one of two forms of cultural production from or about Africa and articulate an argument about the social or political dynamics playing out through and around this cultural object. The assignment will offer you an opportunity to consolidate your understanding of the concepts we will have covered until then, and allow you to practice formulating arguments.

For more information, see Paper Assignment Guidelines.

Final Project

Over the course of the semester, you will develop a final project examining how Africa’s place in the world is negotiated through creative production. This project will be a chance for you to engage creative practice yourself to engage with some of the themes of the class. You will design a project (e.g. video, web-based installation, photography project, creative writing, etc.) and write up a short companion discussion (2-3 pages), in which you lay out how your project engages with theoretical concepts, case studies, and readings discussed in the course.

A prospectus of your final project is due during Session 8, 4 weeks before the project’s due date (Session 12), and you will also give a 10-minute presentation of your project during Session11, where your peers and the instructor will have a chance to offer feedback before you finalize the project. I encourage you to work in groups!

Student Example

This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader."The Price of Love" (PDF - 5.4MB) by Nwamaka Amobi and Gabrielle S. Ballard. Used with permission.