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Medieval Africa and Africans: Instructional Resources for K-12 and Collegiate Classroom

Given the wide popularity of Eurocentric medieval fantasies, it has never been more important that we teach our students about the reality of the Middle Ages rather than the fictionalized fantasies with which they are accustomed. In order to examine Medieval Studies and expand the “Global Middle Ages” beyond the traditional boundaries of Western Europe, this course will concentrate on premodern Africa. While often overlooked, the civilizations that spanned the vast African continent produced great achievements, in conditions of relative parity with their European contemporaries, before the oceanic dominance of a few Western powers.

This collection of instructional resources contextualize Medieval Africa in terms of its contemporary relationships with the medieval globe as well as its modern impact. All resources have been created by participants in the NHC online course titled "Medieval Africa and Africans".

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African Heritage: Medieval Africa in the World
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CC BY
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Designed for use with Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, but could be adapted for other texts dealing with ideas of African heritage and assimilation. 

Subject:
Literature
Material Type:
Homework/Assignment
Author:
Stefany Wragg
Date Added:
02/20/2021
African influence on Global Foodways / African History Intro Lesson
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CC BY-NC
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In this lesson students will investigate the ways that African people have influenced global foodways. Many of us may be familiar with the dominant narrative about “starving people in Africa”. Africa is often characterized as a place of hunger, starvation, and permanent dependency on foriegn aid. This myth of “starving Africa” upholds the logics of global capitalism, racism, imperialism, and colonialism. This introductory lesson will expose the myth of “starving Africa” and allow students to begin to formulate questions about the origins and consequences of the dominant narratives about Africa. Food is an accessible entry point to begin making connections to African history. Many of our own Foodways connect us to Africa, as well as the legacies of the trans-atlantic slave trade and colonialism. Carolina rice, gumbo, mofongo, mangu, akara, jugo de jamaica, horchata, bissap are just a small handful of the foods and drinks that come directly from Africa. Many students might eat African foods every day and not know it! This lesson will introduce students to Africa and allow students to begin drawing the connections between their own culture, Africa, and the globe.

Subject:
Ancient History
History
World Cultures
World History
Material Type:
Lesson
Author:
Jeremy Furlow-Aponte
Date Added:
02/19/2021
Architecture and Experience: Bete Giyorgis at Lalibela
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CC BY-NC
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By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:fully identify Bete Giyorgis in Lalibela, Ethiopia [date, location, materials, patronage]describe the church’s historical context and symbolic meaningscompare its rock-cut, “subtractive” structure to that of “additive” structurescompare its Greek-cross form and function to that of the Byzantine-era Church of the Dormition at Daphni, Greecebe prepared to write a 5-page paper that compares and contrasts Bete Giyorgis and the Church of the Dormition

Subject:
Art History
History
Visual Arts
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Assessment
Homework/Assignment
Lesson
Lesson Plan
Module
Reading
Student Guide
Author:
Susan Wight Swanson
Date Added:
04/19/2021
Awareness of Medieval Africa in the Medieval Era
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This brief lesson is intended to expose students to texts that address the awareness of Africa and travel there during the medieval era. It challenges the assumptions that medieval cultures were isolated and that Africa was unknown to the West prior to colonization.

Subject:
Cultural Geography
Literature
World Cultures
World History
World Literature
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson
Primary Source
Author:
Lisa Ruch
Date Added:
07/15/2022
Benin Bronzes: 'My great-grandfather sculpted the looted treasures'
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CC BY-NC-ND
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This article is about looted artifacts out of Africa from the Benin empire to Europe. Some of the artifacts that were looted, were sculpted by Monday Aigbe's great grandfather.

Subject:
Ancient History
Art History
Arts and Humanities
Education
Higher Education
History
World Cultures
World History
Material Type:
Case Study
Homework/Assignment
Lesson
Reading
Author:
Mayeni Jones
Date Added:
11/05/2021
Building Inquiry and Interest in Medieval Africa: Gallery Walk & Artifact Analysis
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CC BY
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This resource is intented to be used as a way to build interest and inquiry into the study of Medieval Africa. While this lesson is a stand-alone lesson, it should be incorporated into a larger unit that details Medieval African History and Culture. The intended audience is 4th through 8th grades.

Subject:
History
World History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson
Lesson Plan
Primary Source
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Author:
Geena Molinaro
Date Added:
04/19/2021
The Case For Stolen African Artifacts Timothy K. Hodges
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CC BY
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The Case For Stolen African Artifacts. This is an active lesson on the continuing case about stolen Africna artifacts that are being housed in many European museums. Students will participate in a presentation to the General Assembly of the UN, to make their case for either keeping the artifacts or returning them. 

Subject:
Education
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Case Study
Interactive
Lesson Plan
Author:
Timothy Hodges
Date Added:
10/26/2021
Changing the Narrative in Epic Fantasy Genre-Fiction
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CC BY
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This lesson encourages students to actively alter the inherited single-narrative of fantasy genre fiction, using knowledge of medieval Africa to break away from a predominantly western tradition.

Subject:
Literature
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Author:
Rachel Shields
Date Added:
12/16/2021
Characteristics of an Empire – the Manden Charter
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CC BY
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This lesson plan asks students to example the characteristics of an empire by reading the Manden Charter, a document which outlines the laws and morals guiding the Mali Empire. Using a list of empire characteristics, students will read the primary source document to learn more about the Mali Empire, and reinforce their understanding of what makes an empire. Students will create a mind map with their findings. 

Subject:
World History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Author:
Leslie Welsh
Date Added:
06/28/2021
Christian Art in Medieval Ethiopia (Lesson Plan)
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CC BY-NC
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This lesson is designed as a unit within an undergraduate or upper-level high school course on the Art of the Global Middle Ages, conducted virtually. It would be taught following a unit on Early Christian art. It can be adapted to fit in a more general course by selecting just one or two of the four parts. An assignment is suggested for each part; the lesson can be adapted to select one or two assignments.

Subject:
Art History
Arts and Humanities
Religious Studies
Visual Arts
World Cultures
Material Type:
Homework/Assignment
Lecture Notes
Lesson Plan
Primary Source
Reading
Unit of Study
Author:
Leslie Bussis Tait
Date Added:
04/29/2021
Citizenship in the Mali Empire: The Manden Charter
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CC BY-NC
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This lesson introduces students to the Manden Charter of 13th Century Mali Empire, inviting them to explore the document both to gain insights into Mali culture and to examine the document's place in the global context. Students will compare the charter to other similar law codes, discuss fascinating aspects of the document, learn about the oral tradition through which the charter was passed down, and hypothesize about the charter's contemporary reception by other cultures.

Subject:
Cultural Geography
Political Science
World Cultures
World History
World Literature
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Homework/Assignment
Primary Source
Reading
Author:
Meghan Kocar
Date Added:
02/21/2021
Comparing National Poets: The Griot of Sundiata and Amanda Gorman's "The Hill We Climb"
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CC BY
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I designed this lesson as the first part of a larger unit on the medieval West African Epic of Sundiata. It allows students to relate the complex role of a West African griot to another example of public, nation-building poetry--Amanda Gorman's poem composed for and performed at the presidential inauguration in 2021.

Subject:
World Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Author:
Lora Walsh
Date Added:
02/22/2021
Comparing Sundiata's Many Beginnings
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CC BY-NC-SA
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This lesson is designed for upper level high school or university students. It considers three different versions of the opening pages of the Sundiata epic. These opening moments are particularly important because they often involve the self-conscious acknowledgement of epic's the storyteller (griot or jeli) of their own relationship to the narrative. This passage is also used to examine some of the aspects behind the translation, publication, and presentation of oral epics in written form. The lesson presents a handout for guided analysis and discussion of the three texts, and a potential homework assignment for carrying the insights of the class further.

Subject:
Arts and Humanities
World History
World Literature
Material Type:
Lesson
Author:
Patrick Naeve
Date Added:
02/21/2021
Early Medieval African Encounters
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CC BY
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This lecture/lesson combination gives students base knowledge of early medieval African encounters and introduces them to the theoretical approaches of post-colonialism and subaltern studies.

Subject:
World History
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Assessment
Lesson
Reading
Author:
Kim Klimek
Date Added:
02/28/2021
Economics of Ancient Africa
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CC BY
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This is a comprehensive and detailed lesson plan created for a general 6th grade world history curriculum. In this lesson plan you will find interactive activities to engage students in an in depth understanding of the intricate relationship between culture, art, trade, and economics. 

Subject:
Arts and Humanities
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Author:
Arianna Bonner
Date Added:
10/25/2021