Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Three recent semesters of college level French or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in French, as assessed by SIT.

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The SIT Senegal: National Identity and the Arts program offers both a core curriculum and course choice. All students enroll in the Arts, Identities, and Urban Cultures seminar, conducted primarily in French, which promotes an understanding of Senegalese art as a window for viewing the country's rich, varied, and evolving culture and identities. Over the course of the semester, students learn not only to appreciate various art forms and what they represent, but to create and perform them as well. Students also examine the complex social, political, and economic issues Senegal faces today.The Research Methods and Ethics in the Arts course focuses on culturally appropriate, ethical field methodology in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP).

The remaining six credits are selected by each student from a choice of TWO of the following THREE courses: French in the Senegalese Context; Intensive Language Study: Wolof; and Visual and Performing Arts Studio. The French in the Senegalese Context language course builds students’ capacities through a focus on the rich and diverse Senegalese cultural and artistic production in French. The Intensive Language Study: Wolof course offers unique insight into Senegal and provides unparalleled access to the host community. The Visual and Performing Arts Studio provides students with the focused opportunity to explore a visual or performing art form in a studio setting under the mentorship of a master craftsperson/practitioner. Students may opt for two languages or a combination of the studio art course together with Wolof or French.

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming semester. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Arts, Identities, and Urban Cultures in Senegal - syllabus (PDF)
(AFRS 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
A thematic, interdisciplinary course conducted primarily in French, exploring Senegalese arts, identities, and urban cultures through nationalist and cosmopolitan/afropolitan lenses. The seminar examines the prominent role played by the performing and visual arts in shaping Senegalese society and identity, and the emergence of forms of artistic expression beyond traditional/nontraditional and urban/rural binaries. Resources utilized in the delivery of course content include Université Cheikh Anta Diop (University of Dakar), the Senegalese Ministry of Culture, the Media Centre of Dakar, and the Réseau Africain du Développement Integré (RADI).

Research Methods and Ethics in the Arts - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Conducted primarily in English, this is a course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. The seminar provides an introduction to the Independent Study Project and related material including cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a field journal.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Dakar or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: ethnomusicology and study of traditional instruments; role of dance in the ceremonies of the Serer; social meaning of traditional dress in modern Senegal; industrial and traditional fabric dying and design; griots (musicians, historians, royal advisors); Senegalese film as a cultural statement; the work of the Sorano National Theater; the artists of Gorée Island; cultural identity and religion; the tama or talking drum; women and craft production; contemporary Senegalese music.

Plus choice of two of the following three courses:

Visual and Performing Arts Studio - syllabus (PDF)
(ARTS 2000/3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This elective course requires independent studio work in the visual or performing arts, typically including a choice of the following options: sculpture, ceramics, painting, bronze, sous-verre, batik, furniture-making, dance, music, instrument-building, fashion design, photography, film, or theatre. These studios offer students the opportunity to work, in depth, under the guidance of master practitioners, in a studio setting in Dakar. The course culminates in an exhibition of student creative work and an evening of public performances, as well as in the production of arts journals documenting reflections and analyses of music, dance or theatre performances or visual arts exhibitions.

French in the Senegalese Context - syllabus (PDF)
(FREN 2000–2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French in the Senegalese Context - syllabus (PDF) – en français
(FREN 2000–2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours
French in the Senegalese Context - syllabus (PDF)
(FREN 3000–3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French in the Senegalese Context - syllabus (PDF) – en français
(FREN 3000–3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Focusing on the rich and diverse Senegalese cultural and artistic production in French, this course enhances students’ oral proficiency through an emphasis on skills of interaction with local artists and cultural workers, and their immersion into everyday life. By studying postcolonial texts, students also learn about Senegalese oral culture and traditions, nation-building, and the dynamics of contemporary Senegalese society. In support of these objectives, course content provides additional focus on fundamentals of spoken and written French to increase student capacity. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in the appropriate level, with additional language practice in homestays and on field visits.

Intensive Language Study: Wolof - syllabus (PDF) 
(WOLO 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis on beginning oral comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Language practice with host families during the homestays augments formal instruction.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Dakar

Language Study: French,  Wolof

Prerequisites: 3 semesters French

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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