Kente cloth ceremony
Literature, Visual Arts, and Performance

Literature, Visual Arts, and Performance

Why do people dance, weave, make films, sing, write poetry? How do these forms of expressive culture link people together, transmit memory through generations, imagine new worlds, revisit history, or respond to and shape political and economic pressures? This 12-credit Certificate will provide students with an opportunity to engage with these enduring questions through African literature, visual arts, and performance. Through courses that introduce them to an inclusive array of African artistic and expressive practices, students will gain fluency in the cultural and creative diversity of African and Afro-diasporic peoples. Students will receive training in critical theory that prepares them to understand and interpret forms of expressive culture in African contexts and through African knowledge systems. They will learn to analyze the complex interrelations of local and global audiences, networks, and traditions in both formal artistic practice and vernacular art forms in their material, immaterial, and embodied expressions. Students may choose to focus on an area of study (e.g. performance) or to pursue an interdisciplinary selection of courses.

This certificate will include an optional study abroad component (under development). 

Program Learning Objectives 

  • Identify, describe, and analyze prevalent forms of African expressive culture and artistic practice and the key issues they address
  • Examine how local and global networks shape the production, dissemination, and reception of myriad forms of expressive cultures
  • Explain and evaluate the ways in which African creative and artistic expression contributes to politics, social life, and knowledge production

You Might Like This Program If…

  • You want to gain a broad understanding of historical and contemporary African innovations in cinema, literature, performance, music, and visual arts
  • You want to develop critical thinking skills for analyzing and interpreting a variety of artistic media or practices through a perspective informed by African history and culture
  • You’re interested in the complex interactions between local and global, historical and contemporary, political and economic influences on African creative expression
  • You want to gain hands-on experience in field research or artistic practice through study abroad opportunities 
  • You’re interested in a career in the arts or in foundations, museums, educational institutions or other non-profits that support, research in, or teach cultural diversity and the arts

Program Requirements

To earn an undergraduate certificate in Literature, Arts, and Performance, a minimum of 12 credits is required. There are no entrance requirements or pre-requisites. The certificate must be completed within twelve semesters.

Required Courses

 6 credits from the following core course options:

  1. AFR 150: Africa in Cinema
  2. AFR/ARTH 335: African Arts
  3. CMLT 3: Introduction to African Literature
  4. DANCE 221: Introduction to African Dance and Culture
  5. AFR 405: African Studies Methodologies (strongly recommended for completion of certificate)

6 credits from the following elective options:

  1. AFR 110: Introduction to Contemporary Africa
  2. AFR 297: African Religions
  3. AFR/LING 310: Language Rights, Policy, and Planning
  4. AFR/ARTH 130: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
  5. AFR/SPAN 132: Afro-Hispanic Civilization
  6. AFR/WMNST 202 N: Women, Gender and Feminisms in Africa
  7. WMST 462: Reading Black, Reading Feminist
  8. AFR/ARTH 446: Topics in African Art
  9. AFR/ARTH 447: Topics in the Art of the African Diaspora
  10. CMLIT 422: African Drama
  11. CMLIT 423: African Novel
  12. DANCE 220: Mojah Fusion Dance
  13. DANCE 411: From Africa to Hip-Hop: The Evolution of African American Dance
  14. FR 458: African Literature of French Expression
  15. AFR 459: Culture in World Politics
  16. ENGL 469: Slavery and the Literary Imagination
  17. Independent Studies or Special topics course taught by AFR or other approved faculty

Non-Course Requirements

Per University policy, all credit courses for a certificate require a grade of ‘C’ or higher, and at least two-thirds (2/3) of the credits used to complete a certificate must be earned at Penn State. If student is completing multiple certificates in African Studies, no more than one (1) course may double-count for each.