INAF-248 The Question of Equality: Literature & Political Theory in Africa & the Wes
Spring for 2014-2015
"Equality," is, in many ways, the cornerstone of modern conceptions of society, government, and global human rights. Since the Enlightenment, it has been the express concern of the "Western" world. But it is also, historically and culturally, controversial: What does "equality" mean? Or, as a famous law article on the topic asks, "Equality of what?" This course will trace the European and US philosophical traditions of equality alongside cross-cultural conceptions and critiques of the term, particularly those produced by African authors and artists. In doing so, it hopes to unsettle easy assumptions about the term's meaning, and to bridge American ideals of equality to a global understanding of the term. This interdisciplinary seminar, funded by an NEH Enduring Questions grant developed by English (Prof. Samantha Pinto) and African Studies/SFS (Professor Lahra Smith), will include a field trip to Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, as well as to other DC area cultural sites. Assignments will include group presentations, critical analysis papers, web postings, and research intensive, independent final projects; Authors will include Plato, Locke, Nkrumah, Coetzee, Achebe, and Ba, among others. Students from English, Government, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Justice and Peace Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, African Studies, African American Studies, Culture and Politics, and all other disciplines are welcome.
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