Syllabus for LIT-331



This upper-level course is based on the African Encounters course developed by Khombe Mangwanda, Michael Titlestad, and David Levey of the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria, South Africa. It examines several autobiographies written by authors from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. It studies how these African and South African writers use autobiography to explore and define their individual life experiences as well as the collective life experiences of a community.

You are expected to use your critical thinking and analytical skills as you examine the components of autobiography, the internal and external encounters of each author, and the political and social dimensions of the authors' experiences.

The course has four modules:

  1. Introduction to African/South African Autobiography; Sindiwe Magona's To My Children's Children
  2. Antjie Krog's The Country of My Skull
  3. Wole Soyinka's Aké: The Years of Childhood
  4. Nozipo Maraire's Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Compare and contrast how African and South African writers use the autobiography genre to search for personal and community identity.
  2. Explain and analyze how African and South African autobiography embodies and conveys individual encounters, or experiences, and relates them to community issues.
  3. Describe the community dimension of African and South African autobiographies, especially as it relates to political and social issues and apply this knowledge to a description and understanding of African culture.
  4. Evaluate the uniqueness of the contribution of South African and African writers of autobiography to literature as it relates to examining life under apartheid and other forms of oppression.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN-10: 1566566495

ISBN-10: 0812931297

ISBN-10: 0679725407


ISBN-10: 0385318227

Required Study Guide

You will need the following study guide to complete the work of the course. It is available as a PDF file by clicking African Encounters Study Guide.  

This study guide is required reading for this course. Individual reading assignments from this study guide are listed in each assignment in the modules of the course Web site.


African Encounters is a three-credit online course, consisting of four modules. Each module includes the reading of one required text (plus appropriate study guide material), discussion questions, and one to two written assignments. There is no exam for the course; instead, you are required to submit a final integrating paper.

During the course you must complete six written assignments and the final paper. You are also required to participate in ten graded online discussions in addition to an ungraded "Introductions" forum in Module 1 of the course. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and complete a final paper. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Promoting Originality

One or more of your course activities may utilize a tool designed to promote original work and evaluate your submissions for plagiarism. More information about this tool is available in this document.

Discussion Forums

African Encounters has ten graded online discussions, each focusing on a different subject. There is also an ungraded but required discussion in Module 1 titled "Introductions." All class discussions take place on the Discussion Forums.

Communication among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a posted question (discussion thread) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Written Assignments

African Encounters has six written assignments in addition to the final paper. The written assignments consist of essay questions on material from the course books and study guide. For the assignment topics and questions, see the Assignment Modules area of the course Web site. Consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the Assignment Modules area of the course Web site, and read through the written assignment questions before you begin each lesson.

When preparing your answers to the written assignment questions, be sure, first of all, that you answer all parts of each question. Your answers should be well developed and convey your understanding of the readings and concepts. You are expected to integrate the information that you have read and respond to it critically; do not just repeat what is in the books and/or study guide. Support your argument with adequate explanation and illustration. If you need help in writing, take a look at The Writing Center: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

When you think it will help your argument to quote or paraphrase from the texts or other sources, be sure to cite the source of information properly according to MLA or APA guidelines.

Preparing and Submitting Assignments

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

A Word on Plagiarism

The University's policy on plagiarism is included in the University Catalog and in the Online Student Handbook. See Academic Integrity for a detailed explanation of this policy.

Besides the bibliographies listed in the course study guide, numerous other essays and papers have been written about the works of literature in this course; many are available on the Internet. The temptation to plagiarize can be very strong, but the consequences are serious. Please read the plagiarism policy and ask questions if you need clarification or guidance regarding possible plagiarism.

Final Assessment Paper

There is no midterm or final proctored examination in this course. An 8- to 12-page paper, described below, acts as your final assessment and is worth 50 percent of your grade. You must submit the final paper by the last week of the semester.


Your final paper should tie together the elements of all four readings and the dominant themes in each. The final paper is a critical analysis of the course material and its place in literature. Citations/references from the class and beyond must be identified. Additional research to better understand the context of the writing is encouraged.


You should start to prepare an outline for your paper as early as possible, preferably as you are completing the reading assignments each week. You will be asked to submit your outline as Written Assignment 4. In your outline you should demonstrate an understanding of the paper topic. The mentor understands that you may want to change some elements by the time the final paper is written; that is acceptable. However, you should demonstrate that you understand the stated question and provide your plan for answering the question. The outline should be in sentence form, about 1 to 2 pages. See Written Assignment 4 in Module 3 for more information.


Your final paper should be 8 to 12 pages in length. The paper topic question is listed in the Assignment Modules area of the course Web site within the folder titled "Final Assessment Paper."

Your final paper should be well developed and should convey your understanding of readings and concepts, as well as answer the question adequately. It should be organized, coherent, and unified; it should also be free of spelling and grammatical errors. If you need help in writing such a paper, take a look at The Writing Center: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

When quoting or paraphrasing from the text or other sources, be sure to cite the source of information properly according to MLA or APA guidelines.


The Final Assessment Paper Rubric folder contains a rubric that will be used to grade your paper.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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