African Studies

Council on African Studies
The MacMillan Center
309 Luce Hall, 203.432.9903

Michael Cappello (Pediatrics; Microbial Pathogenesis; Public Health)

Director of Graduate Studies
David Simon (203.432.5243,

Director of Program in African Languages
Kiarie Wa’Njogu (203.432.0110,

Professors Serap Aksoy (Epidemiology), Lea Brilmayer (Law), Richard Bucala (Internal Medicine), John Darnell (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Owen Fiss (Law), Gerald Friedland (Internal Medicine; Epidemiology), Robert Harms (History), Ann Kurth (Nursing), Roderick McIntosh (Anthropology), Christopher Miller (French; African American Studies), Stephanie Newell (English), Catherine Panter-Brick (Anthropology), Curtis Patton (Emeritus, Epidemiology), Asghar Rastegar (Internal Medicine), Lamin Sanneh (Divinity; History), Ian Shapiro (Political Science), Robert Thompson (Emeritus, History of Art), Michael Veal (Music), Sten Vermund (Epidemiology; Pediatrics), Immanuel Wallerstein (Emeritus, Sociology), David Watts (Anthropology), Elisabeth Wood (Political Science)

Associate Professors Theodore Cohen (Epidemiology), Kaveh Khoshnood (Epidemiology), Daniel Magaziner (History), Urania Magriples (Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences), Elijah Paintsil (Pediatrics; Epidemiology; Pharmacology), Sunil Parikh (Public Health; Internal Medicine), Jonathan Wyrtzen (Sociology)

Assistant Professors Katharine Baldwin (Political Science), Louisa Lombard (Anthropology), Hani Mowafi (Emergency Medicine), Doruk Ozgediz (Surgery; Pediatrics), Tracy Rabin (Internal Medicine), Jeremy Schwartz (Internal Medicine), Sheela Shenoi (Internal Medicine), Brian Wood (Anthropology)

Lecturers Anne-Marie Foltz (Epidemiology & Public Health), W. Casey King (Public Health), Sarah Ryan (Law), David Simon (Political Science), Veronica Waweru (African Languages)

Senior Lectors II Oluseye Adesola (African Languages), Sandra Sanneh (African Languages), Kiarie Wa’Njogu (African Languages)

Senior Lector Matuku Ngame (French)

Fields of Study

African Studies considers the arts, history, cultures, languages, literatures, politics, religions, and societies of Africa as well as issues concerning development, health, and the environment. Considerable flexibility and choice of areas of concentration are offered because students entering the program may have differing academic backgrounds and career plans. Enrollment in the M.A. program in African Studies provides students with the opportunity to register for the many African studies courses offered in the various departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the professional schools. 

The Program in African Studies also offers two interdisciplinary seminars to create dialogue and to integrate approaches across disciplines. In addition to the M.A. degree program, the Council on African Studies offers students in the University’s doctoral and other professional degree programs the chance to obtain a Graduate Certificate of Concentration in African Studies by fulfilling a supplementary curriculum (see Council on African Studies, under Non-Degree Granting Programs, Councils, and Research Institutes). Joint degrees are possible with the approval of the director of graduate studies (DGS) and the relevant officials in the schools of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Law, Management, and Public Health.

The African collections of the Yale libraries together represent one of the largest holdings on Africa found in North America. The University now possesses more than 220,000 volumes including, but not limited to, government documents, art catalogues, photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, and theses, many published in Africa.

Special Admissions Requirement

The GRE General Test is required.

Special Requirements for the M.A. Degree

The Yale University Master of Arts degree program in African Studies was instituted in 1986. The two-year interdisciplinary, graduate-level curriculum is intended for students who will later continue in a Ph.D. program or a professional school, or for those who will enter business, government service, or another career in which a sound knowledge of Africa is essential or valuable. A student may choose one of the following areas of concentration: history; anthropology; political science; sociology; arts and literatures; languages and linguistics; religion; environmental and development studies; and public health.

The program requires sixteen courses: two compulsory introductory interdisciplinary seminars, Research Methods in African Studies (AFST 501) and Topics in African Studies (AFST 764) or an alternate course, as specifically designated by the DGS; four courses of instruction in an African language; four courses in one of the foregoing areas of concentration; four other approved courses offered in the Graduate School or professional schools; and two terms of directed reading and research (AFST 590 and AFST 900) during which students will complete the required thesis. A student who is able to demonstrate advanced proficiency in an African language may have the language requirement waived and substitute four other approved courses. The choice of courses must be approved by the DGS, with whom students should consult as soon as possible in the first term.

The Master’s Thesis

The master’s thesis is based on research on a topic approved by the DGS and advised by a faculty member with expertise or specialized competence in the chosen topic. Students must submit their thesis for joint evaluation by the adviser and a second reader, who is chosen by the student in consultation with the DGS.

Program in African Languages

The language program offers instruction in four major languages from sub-Saharan Africa: Kiswahili (eastern and central Africa), Wolof (west Africa), Yorùbá (west Africa), and isiZulu (southern Africa). Language-related courses and language courses for professionals are also offered. African language courses emphasize communicative competence, and instructors use multimedia materials that focus on the contemporary African context. Course sequences are designed to enable students to achieve advanced competence in all skill areas by the end of the third year, and the African Languages program encourages students to spend one summer or term in Africa during their language study.

Noncredited instruction in other African languages is available by application through the Directed Independent Language Study program at the Center for Language Study. Contact the director of the Program in African Languages.

More information is available on the program’s website,


AFST 548b / SOCY 548b, Islamic Social MovementsJonathan Wyrtzen

Social movement theory used to analyze the emergence and evolution of Islamic movements from the early twentieth century to the present. Organization, mobilization, political process, and framing of political, nonpolitical, militant, and nonmilitant movements; transnational dimensions of Islamic activism. Case studies include the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hizbollah, Al-Qaeda, Gulen, Al-Adl wa-Ihsann, Islamic State, and others.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

AFST 573b / SOCY 563b, Imperialism, Insurgency, and State Building in the Middle East and North AfricaJonathan Wyrtzen

The historical evolution of political order from Morocco to Central Asia in the past two centuries. Focus on relationships between imperialism, insurgency, and state building. Ottoman, European, and nationalist strategies for state building; modes of local resistance; recent transnational developments; American counterinsurgency and nation-building initiatives in the region.
T 9:25am-11:15am

AFST 651b / AFAM 822b / FREN 951b, The Francophone African NovelChristopher Miller

A comprehensive study of the novel—its discourse, aesthetics, and history—in colonial and postcolonial francophone Africa. Authors include Lamine Senghor, Ousmane Socé, Ousmane Sembène, Ferdinand Oyono, Ahmadou Kourouma, Yambo Ouologuem, Mariama Bâ, Aminata Sow Fall, Fatou Diome, Calixthe Beyala, Alain Mabanckou. Readings in French; course conducted in English.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

AFST 747a / AFAM 846a / CPLT 725a / FREN 946a, Postcolonial Theory and Its LiteratureChristopher Miller

A survey of theories relevant to colonial and postcolonial literature and culture. The course focuses on theoretical models (Orientalism, hybridity, métissage, créolité, "minor literature"), but also gives attention to the literary texts from which they are derived (francophone and anglophone). Readings from Said, Bhabha, Spivak, Mbembe, Amselle, Glissant, Deleuze, Guattari. Conducted in English.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

AFST 837a / HIST 837a, Decolonization and Independence in AfricaRobert Harms

This seminar looks at the process of decolonization in twentieth-century Africa and explores some of the major political, economic, and cultural forces that influenced the trajectories of independent African countries.
W 9:25am-11:15am

AFST 900b, Master's ThesisDavid Simon

Directed reading and research on a topic approved by the DGS and advised by a faculty member (by arrangement) with expertise or specialized competence in the chosen field. Readings and research are done in preparation for the required master's thesis.

AFST 942b / CPLT 986b / FREN 942b, Decolonizing MemoryJill Jarvis

This seminar introduces students to theories of memory, testimony, and trauma by bringing key works on these topics into dialogue with literary texts by writers of the former French and British empires in Africa. Literary readings may include works by Djebar, Ouologuem, Farès, Salih, Head, Aidoo. Theoretical readings by Arendt, Adorno and Horkheimer, Agamben, Césaire, Derrida, Fanon, Foucault, Mbembe, Spivak.
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

AFST 951a or b, Directed Reading and ResearchStaff

By arrangement with faculty.

SWAH 610a, Beginning Kiswahili IKiarie Wa'Njogu

A beginning course with intensive training and practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Initial emphasis is on the spoken language and conversation. Credit only on completion of SWAH 620.
MTWThF 9:25am-10:15am

SWAH 620b, Beginning Kiswahili IIKiarie Wa'Njogu

Continuation of SWAH 610. Texts provide an introduction to the basic structure of Kiswahili and to the culture of the speakers of the language. Prerequisite: SWAH 610.
MF 9am-10:15am

SWAH 630a, Intermediate Kiswahili IVeronica Waweru

Further development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Prepares students for further work in literary, language, and cultural studies as well as for a functional use of Kiswahili. Study of structure and vocabulary is based on a variety of texts from traditional and popular culture. Emphasis on command of idiomatic usage and stylistic nuance. Prerequisite: SWAH 620.
MTWThF 11:35am-12:25pm

SWAH 640b, Intermediate Kiswahili IIStaff

Continuation of SWAH 630.

SWAH 650a, Advanced Kiswahili IKiarie Wa'Njogu

Development of fluency through readings and discussions on contemporary issues in Kiswahili. Introduction to literary criticism in Kiswahili. Materials include Kiswahili oral literature, prose, poetry, and plays, as well as texts drawn from popular and political culture. Prerequisite: SWAH 640.
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

SWAH 660b, Advanced Kiswahili IIKiarie Wa'Njogu

Continuation of SWAH 650.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

SWAH 670a and SWAH 671b, Topics in Kiswahili LiteratureKiarie Wa'Njogu

Advanced readings and discussion with emphasis on literary and historical texts. Reading assignments include materials on Kiswahili prose, plays, poetry, Kiswahili dialects, and the history of the language.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

YORU 610a, Beginning Yorùbá IOluseye Adesola

Training and practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Initial emphasis is on the spoken aspect, with special attention to unfamiliar consonantal sounds, nasal vowels, and tone, using isolated phrases, set conversational pieces, and simple dialogues. Multimedia materials provide audio practice and cultural information. Credit only on completion of YORU 620.
MTWThF 10:30am-11:20am

YORU 620b, Beginning Yorùbá IIOluseye Adesola

Continuing practice in using and recognizing tone through dialogues. More emphasis is placed on simple cultural texts and role playing. Prerequisite: YORU 610.
MTWThF 10:30am-11:20am

YORU 630a, Intermediate Yorùbá IOluseye Adesola

Refinement of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. More natural texts are provided to prepare students for work in literary, language, and cultural studies as well as for a functional use of Yorùbá. Prerequisite: YORU 620.
MTWThF 11:35am-12:25pm

YORU 640b, Intermediate Yorùbá IIOluseye Adesola

Students are exposed to more idiomatic use of the language in a variety of interactions, including occupational, social, religious, and educational. Cultural documents include literary and nonliterary texts. Prerequisite: YORU 630.
MTWThF 11:35am-12:25pm

YORU 650a, Advanced Yorùbá IOluseye Adesola

An advanced course intended to improve aural and reading comprehension as well as speaking and writing skills. Emphasis is on acquiring a command of idiomatic usage and stylistic nuance. Study materials include literary and nonliterary texts; social, political, and popular entertainment media such as video movies and recorded poems (ewì); and music. Prerequisite: YORU 640.
MW 1pm-2:15pm

YORU 660b, Advanced Yorùbá IIOluseye Adesola

Continuing development of aural and reading comprehension, and speaking and writing skills, with emphasis on idiomatic usage and stylistic nuance. Study materials are selected to reflect research interests of the students. Prerequisite: YORU 650.
MW 1pm-2:15pm

YORU 670a or b, Topics in Yorùbá Literature and CultureOluseye Adesola

The course provides students with the opportunity to acquire Yorùbá up to the superior level. It is designed to give an in-depth discussion on advanced readings on Yorùbá literature and culture. It focuses on Yorùbá history, poetry, novels, dramas, and oral folklore. It also seeks to uncover the basics of the Yorùbá culture in communities where Yorùbá is spoken across the globe, with particular emphasis on Nigeria. It examines movies, texts, and written literature to gain insight into the Yorùbá philosophy and ways of life.

ZULU 610a, Beginning isiZulu ISandra Sanneh

A beginning course in conversational isiZulu, using Web-based materials filmed in South Africa. Emphasis on the sounds of the language, including clicks and tonal variation, and on the words and structures needed for initial social interaction. Brief dialogues concern everyday activities; aspects of contemporary Zulu culture are introduced through readings and documentaries in English. Credit only on completion of ZULU 620.
MTWThF 11:35am-12:25pm

ZULU 620b, Beginning isiZulu IISandra Sanneh

Development of communication skills through dialogues and role play. Texts and songs are drawn from traditional and popular literature and songs. Students research daily life in selected areas of South Africa. Prerequisite: ZULU 610.
MTWThF 11:35am-12:25pm

ZULU 630a, Intermediate isiZulu ISandra Sanneh

Development of basic fluency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing isiZulu, using Web-based materials filmed in South Africa. Students describe and narrate spoken and written paragraphs. Review of morphology; concentration on tense and aspect. Materials are drawn from contemporary popular culture, folklore, and mass media. Prerequisite: ZULU 620.
MTWThF 9:25am-10:15am

ZULU 640b, Intermediate isiZulu IISandra Sanneh

Students read longer texts from popular media as well as myths and folktales. Students are prepared for initial research involving interaction with speakers of isiZulu in South Africa, and for the study of oral and literary genres. Prerequisite: ZULU 630.
MTWThF 9:25am-10:15am

ZULU 650a, Advanced isiZulu ISandra Sanneh

Development of fluency in using idioms, speaking about abstract concepts, and voicing preferences and opinions. Excerpts are drawn from oral genres, short stories, and dramas made for television. Introduction to other South African languages and to issues of standardization, dialect, and language attitude. Prerequisite: ZULU 640.
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

ZULU 660b, Advanced isiZulu IISandra Sanneh

Readings may include short stories, a novel, praise poetry, historical texts, or contemporary political speeches, depending on student interests. Study of issues of language policy and use in contemporary South Africa; introduction to the Soweto dialect of isiZulu. Students are prepared for extended research in South Africa involving interviews with isiZulu speakers. Prerequisite: ZULU 650.
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm