course spotlight

Course Descriptions

AFRI-L 102, “Akan Social Life and Cultural Heritage” (2nd 8 weeks course, meeting 10/16 to 12/15)

Time: 4:00 – 6:15 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 

Place: GA 1112

Instructor: David Adu-Amankwah

The Akan-speaking peoples are an important and ancient society in Africa, now comprising 20 million in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. This course introduces the life, basic customs, and traditions of Akan-speaking peoples, particularly the Asante of Ghana, West Africa. Akan politics, esthetics, and cultural practices will be subjects in the course.

David Adu-Amankwah, the assistant coordinator of the African Languages Program, describes the significance of the Akan people. “The Akan land constitutes the cradle of some important elements of culture in Africa, such as “Kente” and “Adinkra” cloth tradition, organization of chieftaincy, speaking through an “Okyeame” to the King (triadic communication), and “Nnwonkoro” musical tradition,” he said.

Interested in seeing more courses like this? Check out other courses in African Studies.

AFRI-L 400, "Yoruba Life and Civilization" (2nd weeks course, meeting 10/16 to 12/16)

Time: 11:45-2:15p.m., Tuesday and Thursday

Place: ED 1084

Instructor: Antonia Folárìn Schleicher

The ways of the Yoruba-speaking people of Southwestern Nigeria and the diffusion of their culture in the New World will be examined in a course that tackles everything from baby naming ceremonies to systems of governance. It’s a chance to be immersed in Yoruba language, life, and culture as it exists in West Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and Haiti.

Embracing both the intimate and the public sides of Yoruba life, the course begins with household matters—family structures; birth, marriage, and death rituals—and extends outward, treating Yoruba belief systems, social structures, political organizations, economic systems, art and aesthetics, and the role of language, literature, and storytelling in culture. The course examines the history of the effects of British colonization on the Yoruba, and the way their political structure changed after independence. Students will also trace the spread of Yoruba aesthetics and religion in the diaspora.

Yoruba Life and Civilization is taught by Antonia Folarin Schleicher, Director of the National African Language Resource Center at IU. “What I love about teaching this course to undergraduates, “ Schleicher says, “is the fact that, as they are learning about the culture of the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, they are invariably learning about their own culture too because they are consciously or unconsciously comparing and contrasting their culture with this new culture they are encountering.”

Schleicher has dedicated her career to teaching and advocating for the teaching of Less Commonly Taught Languages. The author and co-author of numerous textbooks for learning Yoruba and other African languages, Schleicher serves as the Executive Director of both the National Council of Less-Commonly Taught Languages and the African Language Teachers Association. She was awarded the United States President's Gold Level Volunteer Service Award for over 500-hours-a-year of devoted and unpaid service to the cause of promoting less-commonly taught languages and cultures in the U.S.

Interested in seeing more courses like this? Check out other courses in African Studies.

CEUS-R 329/529: "Topics in Central Asian Studies: Cultures, Commerce, and Conflict on the Bronze Age Silk Road" (2nd 8 weeks course, meeting 10/16 to 12/15)

Time: 1:00 - 3:15 PM, Monday and Wednesday

Place: AN 101

Instructor: Anne Pyburn

Generations of archaeologists have focused on the archaeology of urban civilizations without understanding that those early states were part of larger systems of commerce and political action. This class focuses on the anthropology and history of Central Asia during the Bronze Age (3500 to 2400 BC), when a significant portion of the modern world system began to take shape. The lives of nomads will be considered; as will those of herders of horses, cattle and sheep; missionaries for most major world religions; early settled farmers, merchants, and craftspeople; and traders in everything from magic scrolls and political secrets to lapis lazuli and silk. Students will take an intellectual trek accompanied by a string of explorers and adventurers who, beginning in the 18th century, rediscovered the glories of Central Asia and brought fabulous treasures to the West, by fair means and foul.

The course is suitable for majors and non-majors in liberal arts and for both graduates and undergraduates. Beginning with a discussion of the discipline and principles of archeology, students will learn how archaeologists have reconstructed the Bronze Age of Central Asia. The course will query not only how the present is influenced by the past, but also how what we know about the past is influenced by the present.

The instructor, Anne Pyburn, Provost Professor of Anthropology will be conducting a joint archaeological field school with the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan in the summer of 2018. This course will be good preparation for students interested in the field school, but it is not a requirement.

Interested in seeing more courses like this? Check out other courses in Central Eurasian Studies.

EURO-W 406/605: Dutch Footprints: Dutch Culture & History (2nd 8 weeks course, meeting 10/16-12/15)

Time: 4:00 – 6:15 PM, Monday and Wednesday

Place: WY 101

Instructor: Esther Ham

The formation of the Dutch East Indies Company in 1602 brought more than spices to Europe—it ushered in the modern era. Widely considered to have been the first transnational corporation, the company played a key role not only in the development of trade, but in military, social, political, and diplomatic history, not to mention exploration and discovery. The world’s first publicly-traded company, known in Dutch as the VOC, prompted the flourishing of the Dutch Republic and the Golden Age of Dutch Art, distinguished by such masters as Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The course traces the history of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages until the rise of the so-called Dutch Republic at the end of the sixteenth century. It will examine how the Dutch mentality and world view set people in the Netherlands apart from their European contemporaries long before Dutch forays into Asia and the establishment of the Dutch East Indies Company.

In which respects is the Netherlands comparable to other countries, and in which respects are the differences impossible to miss? And what are the reasons for these similarities and dissimilarities? How is the Netherlands connected to other countries, today and in the past? In this course, students will look into Dutch history for the answers to these questions.

EURO-W 406/605 satisfies the CASE A&H Breadth of Inquiry credit and the CASE Global Civilization & Culture credit; there are no prerequisites. The course, which is open to undergraduate and graduate students, is taught in English. The grade will be based on two writing assignments and a final. Dutch Culture and History is taught by Esther Ham, Director of the Dutch Program within the Department of Germanic Studies. Ham is a Senior Lecturer in SGIS’s Department of European Studies as well as the Department of Germanic Studies, and is President of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies. Her research interests range from the pedagogy of Dutch language instruction to contemporary Dutch issues.

Interested in seeing more courses like this? Check out other courses in European Studies.