Film as History (HIST*2020) | College of Arts

Film as History (HIST*2020)

Code and section: HIST*2020*01

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Femi Kolapo


AD-S Virtual:

This course will be taught online in a Synchronous format on the following scheduled day(s) and time(s):

MW    2:30 pm - 3:50 pm

Details provided by instructor: 1½ hours/week will be taught synchronously through lectures and discussions. The other 1½ hours/week asynchronous class time will be covered by either of lecture notes or commentary over power point slides.

Course Synopsis:

This course will use selected films and documentaries (6-8), to introduce students to the history of Africa. The subject matter of the selected films will provide students with the basis to address important themes and topics in the history of Africa as well as matters relating to how, when, and by who Africa’s history is produced, and to what effect. The films will be accompanied by assigned readings from a history textbook that correspond to the theme/topic addressed in the films. These assigned readings, together with the professor’s introduction to the topic, will be used to evaluate the accuracy of the films/documentaries in representing Africa in the history they depict.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. assess the viability of film as a historical source
  2. understand perceptions about Africa and their impact on the understanding of Africa’s past.
  3. evaluate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic factors that have defined Africa’s history
  4. identify and discuss major themes in African history with global ramifications
  5. develop a critical understanding of African history, culture, and society.



Method of Evaluation and Weights:

  1. 30%    1-2-page outline of key observations (historical & historiographical) each on 4 films; two during the first half and the other two during the second half of the semester.    
  2. 20%    Midterm Exam (on films and text covered up to Week 6)    
  3. 10%    An outline of Final Project (1-1½ page long)
  4. 40%    Final Project (Compare two films, evaluating how accurate is their historical representation of Africa

Texts Required:

  1. Robert Harms, Africa in Global History with Sources (W.W. Norton & Company, 2018).

* Please note:  This is a preliminary web course description only.  The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.