Ghana: Dialogue Across the Diaspora
3 credits (LAS-C792/HAVC-C792-01/HPSS-C792)
Mar. 22 - Apr. 1: Accra, Cape Coast
Faculty: Jonathan Highfield (RISD Literary Arts & Studies)
This course centers around the idea of dialogue between Barbados and Ghana, with Rhode Island serving as a hinge. Over the course of the semester, students will be looking at narratives and art emerging from Barbados and Ghana, enacting a dialogue between the two countries. What insights can be gained into the histories of the two cultures by looking at them side by side? How do their divergent colonial histories speak to each other? Informing the course will be the reading of poetry, historical narratives, and narrative fiction, as well as an exploration of the visual art created in response to the history of oppression and the celebration of freedom. The tumultuous history of the two countries and the challenges of racial injustice and poverty will be explored in works by Ama Ata Aidoo, Dorthea Smartt, Kamau Brathwaite, Kojo Laing, George Lamming, Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, and Karen Lord. Questions we will be asking include: how does one narrate atrocity; what has been called “historical catastrophic” contexts? What is the role of the artist and art in impoverished circumstances? How do socially conscious artists, writers, and performers balance the aesthetic and the political in their work? What is the relationship between aesthetics and politics? How do Barbadian and Ghanaian artists speak to each other through their works? What potentials are there for greater dialogue?
This course involves collaboration with students in the Department of Theatre
at the University of Cape Coast, and an optional trip over spring break to Ghana
to collaborate with those students on a project in a slave castle.
Permission of Instructor required.
Travel Cost: TBD– airfare included (cost includes: accommodation, field trips, local transportation, group dinners + some meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance).