ENG170A: the Globalization of Nollywood

ENG170A: the Globalization of Nollywood

ENG170A: The Globalization of Nollywood

Tuesday &Thursdays 3:30-4:50

Olin-Sang 116


Professor Emilie Diouf

Phone: 781-736-2161


Office Hours: T, TH 1-2pm

Office: Rabb 230

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Course Description:

This course provides students with an introduction to Nigerian popular films. Lagos, Nigeria’s capital is the center of Nollywood which produces over 2000 films a year, reaching viewers worldwide, mostly throughout the African continent and its diaspora. The stories told by this booming industry shape viewer’s ideas about African life and yet in the US Nollywood films are almost unknown. We will examine how these films project local, national, and regional issues onto global screens. We will discuss the conditions and foundations of the Nigerian video phenomena, genres (i.e. magical realism, melodrama, comedy, etc.) and look at the types of social critiques Nollywood films engage in as they tackle topics such as globalization, economic crisis, corruption, migration, and gender politics. We will also discuss issues of distribution, funding, and piracy that affect how Nollywood movies are made and who their audiences are. We will primarily focus on literary and cinematic reading methodologies that allow us to understand how aesthetics and context are all integral to understanding the global circulation and consumption of Nigerian video films.


Learning Goals

By the end of the course students will

  • be able to identify and interpret the aesthetic features of Nollywood films;
  • be able to understand how Nollywood films dramatize the social conditions and political crises affecting Nigeria and gain an increased understanding of and respect different cultural traditions;
  • be able to practice writing in the age of new media through blogs;
  • be able to analyze African media on their own terms and continue to be comfortable doing so after the class ends.

Required Texts:

Garritano, Carmela. African Video Movies and Global Desires: A Ghanaian History. Ohio University Press, 2013. Print.

Krings, Matthias, and Onookome Okome. Global Nollywood: The Transnational Dimensions of an African Video Film Industry. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013. Print.

Saul, Mahir, and Ralph Austen. Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 2010. Print.

Additional reading materials will be posted on LATTE

Movie List:

Film will be made available via LATTE. Most of these films are also on YouTube.

Arugbá, Tunde Kelani. Lagos &New York, NY: Distributed by ArtMattan Productions, 2009.

Borom Sareet, Ousmane Sembène. Filmi Domirev: Dakar. U.S.: New York Video, 2005.

Confusion Na Wa. Gyang, Kenneth. Sanya Communications, 2012.

Dangerous Twins 1, Tate Ogidan. Nigeria: Paulo International Concepts and OGD Pictures, 2012

Living in Bondage, Kenneth Nnebue Nigeria, 1992.

Nollywood Babylon, Ben Addelman, New York, NY: Distributed by Lorber HT Digital, 2009.

Phone Swap. Kunle Afolayan. Nigeria: Digital Video. Golden Effects, 2011.

Siri ya Mtungi, Season 1 (2 episodes). Rjber Jordan. Tanzania, 2012.

Tango with Me. Mahmood Ali-Balogun. Prefs. Genevieve Nnaji, Joseph Benjamin, 2010.

The Figurine, Kunle AfolayanNigeria: Golden Effects, 2010.

The Mirror Boy, Obi Emelonye, Genevieve Nnaji, and Osita Iheme. Nigeria 2013.

This Is Nollywood, Caputo, Robert, and Franco Sacchi. San Francisco, Calif.: California Newsreel, 2015.

Welcome to Nollywood, Henry Rosenthal, Cayce Lindner, Jamie Meltzer, and David E. Nelson. New York: Indiepix Films, 2009.

Course Policies and Procedures

Success in this course requires nine hours of work for every three hours of in class time. Students will use that time to view films, read, write blog posts, papers, and prepare presentations.

Grade Breakdown:

We will develop a grading rubric together in class for each assignment.

Blogs – 30%

Paper 1 – 20% (proposal 5%)

Paper 2 –30% (proposal 5%; annotated bibliography 10%; final version 15%)

Participation – 10%

Presentations – 10%


Blogs (9 posts and 2 responses required): Students will be asked to post weekly responses (around 250 words, or 1-pg double spaced) to the course webpage on LATTE (http://latte.brandeis.edu). Your post should connect the films we watch to the assigned readings for the week. Blog posts will be due at 10 pm on Wednesdays, and students will be expected to have read their classmates’ posts before class. There are two types of blogs that students may write. The first type is analytical. Here, you may brainstorm about important themes, motifs, problems, questions, etc., or you may relate the reading/screening to other discussions we’ve had throughout the semester. You should think of each analytical blog as having a mini-thesis statement, or a hypothesis/argument that you are trying to make. The majority of your blogs should be of this kind. However, you may also choose to write a research-oriented post. In this case, you can provide any type of historical, political, or cultural background that you find might help your classmates to understand the films better, though you still must be in dialogue with the assigned readings and show that you have read and thought about them. In all cases though, avoid posts that are centered on your likes or dislikes. You need to focus on analysis or research rather than on what makes you happy, or sad, or angry. Blogs may be informal, but they should be grammatically correct and articulate. I want to emphasize that blogs are places for you to think through problems and issues and pose questions or concerns. I am not looking for a developed mini-essay and I therefore will not provide individual feedback for each post, unless I feel that you haven’t met the requirements described above. Blogs are meant to provoke discussion and thought. Posing questions that you don’t know the answer to is entirely legitimate. Each post will be worth 6 points and students will receive all 6 points as long as they write a satisfactory post. If a student receives less than 6 points for the blog, I will provide them with a reason and let them know how to improve. Please check the grade book on LATTE to see how you are doing.

Papers: There will be two papers due throughout the semester (4-6 pages for paper #1; 8-10 pages for paper #2). Students are encouraged to develop and propose their own topics. You are strongly advised to start the writing process as early as possible and to bring drafts to my office hours.

Presentations: Four weeks into the semester, students will be asked to select a film from outside our movie list. The first presentation will be on Thursday September 28th. On the designated day, you will be required to present the film to the class in a creative and engaging way. You should design your presentation with the knowledge that not all of the students will have seen the film. During your 30mns, you will be expected to show clips, pose questions, and present background information about the film and the topic of the cluster itself. Again, creative formats of presentation are highly encouraged.

Participation: This grade will be determined by the quality (not quantity) of your contributions to the course in general. The participation grade will be a factor of the following four elements: your level of engagement during class discussions; your demonstrated effort throughout the semester; your attitude and openness towards others; and your improvement and progress throughout the semester. For students who are less comfortable with speaking in large groups, I encourage you to email me with questions and comments about the readings and to attend office hours. Also, please note that part of participating in class means having the assigned reading materials in front of you and ready to reference.

Course Requirements:

Attendance. Attendance and active participation at all class sessions are mandatory and will be taken on LATTE. If you have to miss a class because of religious observance, illness, family events, and emergencies, please let me know in advance if possible. You will not be penalized for illness, but you must provide a doctor’s note for your absence. If you miss more than 2 classes, your final participation grade for the course will be lowered by a full letter grade per absence. Missing more than 4 classes will results in failing the class

Laptops and mobile devices: In order to avoid distraction, laptop computers will not be allowed unless a special request is made to me in person. Use of cell phones in class for talking, texting or reading/writing email is also prohibited. If I see you using your phone during class, you will be asked to desist, and it will be counted against your attendance grade for that day.

Late Work will be penalized. Papers will be lowered by one full letter grade for each day they are late.

Office Hours are held each week, unless otherwise noted. Students may stop by office hours at any time for help, or you can schedule an appointment to meet outside office hours.

Communications: Any changes to the syllabus or class schedule, including accommodations for snow days, will be communicated via the class email list and posted on LATTE. Please plan to check your university email account and LATTE daily to keep informed.

Academic Integrity: Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s ideas or words in your writing without acknowledging the source. It is a serious offense, and may result in failing the class and suspension from the university. When in doubt, see me or consult the student resources listed by Brandeis Library & Technology Services (https://lts.brandeis.edu/courses/instruction/academic-integrity/index.html), including this handout on “How to avoid plagiarism” (http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_plagiarism.html).

Writing Center: Students who want additional help with their writing are encouraged to visit the campus Writing Center (http://www.brandeis.edu/writingprogram/writingcenter/; Goldfarb Main Library, Room 107; 781-736-2130; ).

Disabilities: If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Brandeis University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately.


*Note: This schedule is subject to change during the course of the semester; any changes will be updated on LATTE.

August 31st: Introduction to course

Module 1: The Creation of Nollywood

Sept 5th

Films: Borom Sareet; Living in Bondage

Readings: Viewing African Cinema, Introduction p1-8; Green-Simms, “The Return of the Mercedes: From Ousmane Sembène to Kenneth Nnebue.” In Viewing African Cinema, Chap 12.

Sep 7th

Jonathan Haynes, “Nollywood: What’s in a Name?”

“African Cinema and Nollywood: Contradictions”

Start Blogging; post due by 10pm on Wednesdays.

Sept 12th

Film: This is Nollywood

Read: Jonathan Haynes, “What is to be Done? Film Studies and Nigerian and Ghanain Videos” in Viewing African Cinema p.11-25.

Sept 14th

Onookome Okome, “Nollywood and Its Critics” In Viewing African Cinema p. 26-41.

Birgit Meyer, “Ghanaian Popular Movies between State Film Policies and Nollywood: Discourses and Tensions.” In Viewing African Cinema p.42-62

Module 2: Genre and Aesthetics

Sept 19th

Film: Tango With Me

Reading: Alessandro Jedlowski, “From Nollywood to Nollyworld: Processes of Transnationalism in the Nigerian Video Film Industry” In Global Nollywood, part 1, chap1, p25-45

Sept 21st Rosh Hashanah No Class

Sept 26th

Film: Confusion Na Wa

Paper #1 Topic Proposal Due on LATTE

Sept 28th

Readings: Brian Larkin, “Extravagant Aesthetics: Instability and the Excessive World of Nigerian Film.”


Oct 3rd

Film: Arugbá

Akin Adesokan, “Tunde Kelani’s Nollywood: Aesthetics of Exhortation;”

Oct 5th Sukkot: No class

Oct 10

Films: Dangerous Twins 1

Oct 12

Reading: Abdallah Uba Adamu, “Transgressing Boundaries: Reinterpretation of Nollywood Films in Muslim Northern Nigeria.” In Global Nollywood

Module 3: Nollywood’s Local and Global Audience

Oct 17th

Film: The Mirror Boy

Reading: Garritano, “Introduction: African Popular Videos as Global Cultural Form”

Paper #1 is Due on LATTE by midnight

Oct 19th

Global Nollywood, Intro


Oct 24th No class Meeting

Film: Crazy in Love 1

Read Garritano, chapters 3&5.

Everyone must submit an analytical blog post on LATTE by 4:50pm

Oct 26th

Film: Crazy in Love 2

Reading: Global Nollywood, chap 2; Presentation

Oct 31st

Global Nollywood Chapters 3&5

Module 4: Production and Distribution

Nov 2nd

Welcome to Nollywood

Submit Paper # 2 Proposal is due on LATTE by Midnight

Nov 7th

Film: Nollywood Babylon

Library Instruction

Nov 9th

Reading: Bryan Larkin, “Degraded Images, Distorted Sounds: Nigerian Video and Infrastructures of Piracy”

Presentation Makayla

Module 5: Appropriations of Nollywood in Tanzania

Nov 14th

Films: Siri ya Mtungi Season 1; episode TBA

Reading: “Nollywood Goes East” in Viewing African Cinema p.74-91

Nov 16th No class meeting

Submit Annotated Bibliography for Paper #2 on LATTE by 5pm

Nov 21st

Film: Siri ya Mtungi, episode TBA

Reading: Garritano. Chapter 2


Module 6: The New Nollywood

Nov 28th

Film: The Figurine

Jonathan Haynes, “New Nollywood and Kunle Afolayan”

Nov 30th

Film: Phone Swap

Reading: Jonathan Haynes, “Neoliberalism, Nollywood, and Lagos”

Dec 5th

Reading: Jonathan Haynes, “Postscript: Toward the Future”

Dec 7th

Paper 2 Workshop

Dec 15th Paper#2

Due by Midnight