Memoirs of Life in South Africa

English 162: Literature and Place (A Queens College Study Abroad Course)

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Monday, January 2

 Arrive, get settled

Tuesday, January 3

Morning: Orientation

Afternoon: First class with Nick Shepherd, Making Sense of South Africa: Histories, Contexts, Debates

Read for Today: Shepherd & Robins, New South African Keywords; afternoon screening of the film Mapantsula (1988)

Blog 1: Reflect on your experience in Cape Town so far and make a connection to something you learned in class today. Mellon students: Write about something interesting you’ve learned in your program.

Wednesday, January 4 

Morning: class with Nick Shepherd

Read: Rasool, “Memory and the Politics of History in the District 6 Museum” + Bickford-Smith, “Mapping Cape Town: From Slavery to Apartheid”

Afternoon: Excursion to the District 6 and Iziko museums

Thursday, January 5 

Morning: Class with Nick Shepherd

Read: Shepherd, “Archaeology Dreaming: Post-Apartheid Urban Imaginaries and the Prestwich Street Dead” + Field and Swanson, “Imagining the City: Memories and Cultures in Cape Town”

Afternoon: screening of the film  District 9 (2009)

Blog 2: Share and reflect on a moment in Mandela’s book that documents a moment that changed him or a moment of cross-cultural mixing or conflict. Mellon students: You can do this same first assignment.

Friday, January 6 

Morning: First Regular Class

Read: Mandela, Long Walk to FreedomArora, “Decolonizing the Mind” (from the blog Shunya:; Bahri, “Introduction to Postcolonial Studies”

Afternoon: Tour of Cape Town

Sunday, January 8

Robben Island

Blog 3: What is postcolonial identity? Are you postcolonial? In what ways is Cape Town postcolonial? Suggestion: Include images or video. Mellon students: Please read the two short pieces by Arora and Bahri and do this same first assignment.

Monday, January 9 

Morning: Class

Read: Coetzee, Boyhood; Eakin, “What Are We Reading when We Read Autobiography?”

Afternoon: Free

Tuesday, January 10 

Morning: Class

Read: Gordimer, selected essays from Writing & Living; Biko, selected essays from I Write What I Like; 

Afternoon: Free

Blog 4: What’s tricky about autobiography? (Be sure to offer concrete examples.)


Wednesday, January 11

Morning: Class

Read: Otter, Khayelitsha; Appiah, “The Case for Contamination”Writing Africa: Tinyiko Sam Maluleke’s Blog

Afternoon: Free

Blog 5: Choose a post from “Writing Africa” and use it to teach the rest of us something new about South Africa. Be sure to include a link to the post and a couple of quotations from it.


Thursday, January 12 

All Day: Excursion to The Lwandle Museum, Somerset West, and Monkey Town

Friday, January 13

Morning: Class

Film: Law & Freedom (Dir. Achmat)

Afternoon: Free

Blog 6: Choose one writer we’ve read and write an account of yesterday’s excursion from the point of view of that writer. Suggestion: Include images or video.

Saturday, January 14 

Excursion to Porter Estate Market

Blog 7: Tell a story about a Cape Town experience (keeping Eakin’s ideas about autobiography in mind).

Monday, January 16 

Morning: Class

Read: Mathabane, Kaffir Boy

Afternoon: Free

Tuesday, January 17 

Morning: Class

Film: A Country for My Daughter (Dir. Blankenberg); Eakin, “Talking about Ourselves: The Rules of the Game”

Afternoon: Free

Blog 8: Choose a life story you’ve encountered during your time in Cape Town and reflect on it through the lens of Eakin’s essay “Rules of the Game.”

Wednesday, January 18 

Morning: Class

Film: Black People Don’t Swim (Dir. Blankenberg)

Reading: Appiah, “The Case for Contamination”

Afternoon: Free

Blog 9: Reflect on some ideas for your research project.

Thursday, January 19 

Morning: Class

Read: Selections from Ncgobo, Some of My Best Friends Are White; selections from Ndumiso Ngcobo’s Blog

Afternoon: informal discussion at a local café

Blog 10: Option 1: Write a satirical account of a Cape Town expeirence or Option 2: Write about how humor may be used to counter injustice or respond to suffering.

Friday, January 20 

Morning: Class

Read: Selections from Krog, et al, Then There Was This Goat; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission website

Afternoon: Informal discussion at a local café.

Blog 11: Choose a piece of testimony in the “Special Hearings” section of the TRC web site and present it for the rest of us. Be sure to use quotations from the piece you choose. Make a connection to an idea Krog writes about in her book.

Afternoon: Free


Monday, January 23 

All Day: Excursion to Boulders, Cape Point, and the Cape of Good Hope

Tuesday, January 24 

Morning: Class (Presentations)

Afternoon: Braai

Blog 12: Write about something you learned in Cape Town. Suggestion: Use images or video.



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