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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 339
Course Title: *History of Modern Africa
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

This course offers a history of Africa from the early nineteenth century to the present day . The course examines the European imperial scramble  to colonize Africa during the later 1800s and early 1900s, the broader integration of African societies into the world economy during that process, the social, political and cultural impact of imperial policies, Western popular images of Africa in the colonial period, the nationalist struggles that resulted in the independent African states, and the achievements of - and persistent problems faced by - those post-colonial states. Cross-listed as ANTH 339. Prerequisite: HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Occasional offering.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Use the most current editions of the following texts. A minimum of three books is required: the main textbook, one from the sources collection (text 2-3) and one from the ancillary collection (text 4-11). 



2. African Perspectives on Colonialism
By Boahen, Adu (Johns Hopkins University)
Category/Comments - Sources Collection
3. A Documentary History, Vol. 2: From Colonialism to Independence, 1875 to the Present
By Worger, W.H and Clark, N.L. and Alpers, E. A. (Oxford University Press)
Category/Comments - Sources Collection
4. Things Fall Apart
By Achebe, Chnua
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
5. The River Between
By wa Thiong'o Ngugi
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
6. Nervous Conditions
By Dangareemgba, Tsitsi
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
7. A Mouth Sweeter than Salt
By Falola, Toyin
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
8. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
By Elkins, Caroline
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
9. Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa
By Godwin, Peter
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
10. Beasts of No Nation
By Iweala, Uzodinma
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text
11. Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire
By Umetesi, MarieBeatrice
Category/Comments - Ancillary Text

Course Objectives
  • To acquire knowledge of historical developments within sub-Saharan Africa from 1800 to the modern day.
  • To critically assess African historical development in the 19th and 20th century using both primary and secondary sources.
  • To better understand of the variety of responses manifested by African peoples faced with late-19th century and early 20th-century imperialism.
  • To gain a greater awareness of the many African perspectives on imperialism and its legacies.
  • To explain the role imperialism, missionary activity, and economic integration played in the shaping of events and movements in late-19th and 20th-century sub-Saharan Africa.
  • To analyze and identify the major sources of social, cultural, and political stability and instability in post-independence African states.
  • To explain the influence of the past upon contemporary African states and peoples.
Measurable Learning Outcomes:
  • Identify both specific locations of historical sites in Africa.
  • Describe chief characteristics of African societies on the eve of 19th-century European expansion.
  • Define the historical causes and effects of European imperialism.
  • Compare and contrast economic, political, and culture development of African societies as they came under the pressures of European imperialism.
  • Discuss the influence of European Christian missionary activities in Africa during the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Describe political and economic institutions which developed as part of European colonialism in Africa.
  • Describe the different processes of national and independence movements in the era of decolonization.
  • Compare achievements and problems faced by sub-Saharan African states in the decades immediately after independence.
  • Discuss issues faced by African peoples in the contemporary era.
  • Demonstrate an ability to read, write, interpret, analyze and evaluate historical information from multiple sources to reach logical conclusions.
Topical Outline:

Because the course represents an upper-level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsiblity for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e. midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers). The course reading load should be at least 1000 pp.; the course writing assignments should total c5000 words.

The major topics include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Sub-Saharan African societies in 1800
  • The European presence in Africa prior to 1800
  • Motives for the "Scramble for Empire" after 1870
  • African reactions to imperialism: cooperation; accommodation; resistance
  • Late 19th-century and 20th-century Christian missionary activity and responses to it
  • Integration of African societies into the world economy
  • Social, cultural, and economic impacts of imperial policies
  • Western popular images of Africa in the colonial period; the invention of "Africa"
  • Nationalist and independence movements: pan-Africanism, elite- and mass- movement processes
  • Nationalist struggles for independence in the age of decolonization
  • Women and social change in modern Africa
  • Post-independence achievements, and challenges
  • Contemporary issues across the subcontinent
Culminating Experience Statement:

Material from this course may be tested on the History Assessment Test (HAT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at http://www.ccis.edu/offices/library/index.asp. You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: David Karr Date: August 20, 2014
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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