English 290S 01 - Reading Zimbabwe & its Diasporas


African literature is often studied from a continental perspective. But this class takes an approach that allows for a more nuanced, locally informed version of global studies. Focusing on a single country, Zimbabwe, we will encounter its history of colonization, independence, land redistribution and post-colonial economic malaise through literature and film. How do literature and film upend stereotypes, pointing out the limits of governmental, development, and NGO aid policies?

There is no danger of a single story in the works we’ll study: experimental and traditional praise poetry; novels and films about an ancient monumental city (in King Solomon’s Mines), colonial life (in Nobel laureate Doris Lessing’s The Grass Is Singing), winning independence, a gay hair dresser in Harare, and the Booker finalist NoViolet Bulawayo’s story about the transition from aid-recipient to Detroit teenager. We will end with a poetry collection (by the professor) that will be published during the semester. Assignments include weekly one-page response papers, an annotated bibliography and a term paper based on the bibliography.