This course explores stories told by contemporary women writers, filmmakers, poets and storytellers from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Students will develop critical methodologies and creative strategies of reading and viewing women’s experiences of oppression and agency, and gain the ability to draw connections between past and present conditions of women’s lives. Through analysis of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation in specific texts written across locations we will visit, the readings and screenings will help students understand how each author’s work reflects distinct histories, cultures, and practices influenced by place. Since many of the texts will be translations of readings and films with subtitles in English, we will also explore the complexity of reading translations. Each reading will be framed by an understanding of the history and culture of the writer’s country of origin and consider ways in which practices of colonialism, religion, history, and power influence each text. Through the examination of women’s roles in marriage, sexuality, and agency in places both real and imagined, students will gain understandings of the gendered experiences of women across geographic location to determine to what extent, if any, we can identify women’s voices that transcend national and international borders, and understand the many ways that women write the world.
Field ClassCountry: South Africa
Date: October 7, 2017
NOTE: THIS WILL BE REVISED TO REFLECT THE WOMEN WRITERS BOOKED FOR READING AT THE BOOK LOUNGE AND IS SUBJECT TO THE AVAILABILITY OF iQHIYA COLLECTIVE MEMBERS.
“Women Write South Africa” will bring us inside the spaces where artists, writers and cultural influencers spend their time. We’ll visit with women writers and artists at the Book Lounge, an independent bookstore in the heart of Cape Town, known for an eclectic collection of books, great coffee, and readings with some of South Africa’s most talented writers. We will visit Mama’s Restaurant and Gallery where we will enjoy the music of the resident artist and taste the flavors of local African cuisine. We will finish our day at local art museums and visit with young women artists of the iQhiya collective. iQhiya is a Xhosa word for head wrap worn by women that the represents love, creative energy, and power of these young, black women. These young women met at art school and formed a collective because they are, “tired of the constant under-representation and minimization of female and black artistic efforts in South Africa.” They drop words like ‘slay’ and make art to transport us into a the creative space of “futuristic black girls,” and offer a (re)imagining of what the lives of contemporary women and girls are and should be in South Africa and beyond. This will be a day full of words, ideas, energy, music, and expression that will inspire creative thought.
1. To gain insight and understanding of the everyday lives of creative women writers and artists in and around Cape Town, South Africa.
2. To learn about the inspiration for the stories, their path to become writers and artists, and the path of their creative processes.
3. To visit community spaces of booksellers, artists, and be exposed to more South African women’s writing, art and spaces of creative community building, to learn about ways women express themselves in Capetown and South Africa.
4. To connect with women in Capetown and learn first-hand about history, culture, identity and the impact of sexism, racism, poverty and other societal issues.
5. To gain exposure to new writers and artists, works of art and local African food.