Tag Archives: Assignments

Nervous Conditions/ First Paper (contcult)

Welcome to the postcolonialism unit. Monday we’ll discuss the first four chapters of Tsitsi Dangarembga‘s Nervous Conditions. Recall that the title of this book is from a phrase written by Jean-Paul Sartre in his introduction to Frantz Fanon‘s seminal Wretched of the Earth. You can read that introduction here.

Wednesday we’ll continue with NC, up to chapter 7.

Friday we’ll short for the book up to chapter 9.

Go to the Contemporary Culture page on this site to see the first paper prompt.

VIAL: The Coming Week

A video for Arrested Development’s Tennessee. Note the themes of escape and redemption. As is so often the case in American Culture, geographical movement is connected to a yearning for spiritual and political freedom– as this passage from Robin D.G. Kelley’s Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination illustrates. 

Lord I’ve really been real stressed
Down and out, losin ground
Although I am black and proud
Problems got me pessimistic
Brothers and sisters keep messin up
Why does it have to be so damn tuff?
I don’t know where I can go
To let these ghosts out of my skull
My grandmas past, my brothers gone
I never at once felt so alone
I know you’re supposed to be my steering wheel
Not just my spare tire (home)
But lord I ask you (home)
To be my guiding force and truth (home)
For some strange reason it had to be (home)
He guided me to Tennessee (home)

(Chorus) Take me to another place
Take me to another land
Make me forget all that hurts me
Let me understand your plan

Lord it’s obvious we got a relationship
Talkin to each other every night and day
Although you’re superior over me
We talk to each other in a friendship way
Then outta nowhere you tell me to break
Outta the country and into more country
Past Dyesburg into Ripley
Where the ghost of childhood haunts me
Walk the roads my forefathers walked
Climbed the trees my forefathers hung from
Ask those trees for all their wisdom
They tell me my ears are so young (home)
Go back to from whence you came (home)
My family tree my family name (home)
For some strange reason it had to be (home)
He guided me to Tennessee (home)


Now I see the importance of history
Why people be in the mess that they be
Many journeys to freedom made in vain
By brothers on the corner playin ghetto games
I ask you lord why you enlightened me
Without the enlightment of all my folks
He said cuz I set myself on a quest for truth
And he was there to quench my thirst
But I am still thirsty…
The lord allowed me to drink some more
He said what I am searchin for are
The answers to all which are in front of me
The ultimate truth started to get blurry
For some strange reason it had to be
It was all a dream about Tennessee


For this week:

Monday we’ll discuss Ch. 5 of Angela Davis’s book.

For Wednesday  well discuss Ch. 7

Friday: Ch. 11

This Week (contcult)

First, here’s a short viddy for Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Note that her rather provocative thesis relates the CIA’s funding of shock therapy research for intelligence purposes to Milton Friedman’s notion of “economic shock treatment” as a means of introducing Free Market economic policies. 

The first part of a ten part documentary titled Hijacking Catastrophe produced by the Media Education Foundation:

A powerful collection of images synched to Rage Against the Machine’s “Wake Up”:


For Monday/Wednesday:

Finish Waiting for the Barbarians, Coetzee’s “Into the Dark Chamber”, and Pinter’s Nobel Acceptance Speech.

For Friday:

Read the first 4 chapters of Moshin Hamid‘s The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Final Essays (cali/cont cult)

Final essay assignments are up on the appropriate pages. Two pieces of advice:

Begin your research now. It’s absolutely vital that these papers be the product of informed reflection. You’ll need to time to let your ideas and the information you gather ferment. 

Write multiple drafts. As I said in class these papers should be superlative: no grammar problems; proper format; a developed, intelligent engagement with some of the major themes of the course.