African Historiography and Approaches to History

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African History Project – African Boy with Musket

Next course start date:

Monday 5 July 2021

This powerful and comprehensive course introduces students not only to the history of Africa, but to the history of “African history”.

The first part of the course looks at how the telling of Africa’s historical narratives has changed with time, from the oral traditions of antiquity to those of the modern day; from 14th century epics in Arabic, to 20th century masterpieces in vernacular languages and English. This is an essential exploration of the history of the continent and its people, providing a brilliant introduction to over 600 years of African history writing and recitation.

The second half of the course steeps itself in current historical practice – how should we study Africa’s past today? Considering important tools such as oral history and philosophical concepts such as pan-Africanism and post-colonialism, this part of the course forces students to think critically about how to tell robust and authentic African histories.

The course aims to answer four fundamental questions:

  • What is history? What does it mean to “do” history in the African tradition.
  • Why do we do history? What motivates us to investigate the past and what bearing does, or should, this have on the contemporary Black experience.
  • How have we done history up to this point? How have people engaged with, dissected and expressed Africa’s past from antiquity to the present day – what has fuelled those changes and what can we learn from them.
  • How should we do history? What process and philosophies do we have at our disposal to shape our approach to the study of the continent and its people.

By the end of this course, students will be able to answer these questions as well as having an understanding of, and ability to critically engage with:

  • Discourses on African historiography from antiquity to the present day;
  • The African and African diasporic oral tradition;
  • The opportunities and challenges presented by oral history for the exploration of the Black experience;
  • Black feminine, pan-African and post-colonial approaches to the study of the Black experience.

Visit the full course page for details of individual modules.

Course Title: Short Course in African History: African Historiography and Approaches to History

Department: African History

Duration: 12 weeks (30 hours)

Format: Online, Lectures, Individual or Group Seminar

Assessment: 1000-word essay (50%), 1-hour open-book exam (50%)

Course Features

  • Lectures 9
  • Quizzes 0
  • Duration 12 Weeks
  • Skill level All levels
  • Language English
  • Students 5
  • Assessments Yes