Beyond the Single Story: an introduction

This is a shared blog for world literature classes at Westmont College. The title is inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story. (embedded below)” We will focus here on stories from around the world that challenge us to inhabit other perspectives and explore the lives of significant figures of the global south.


In the Spring of 2017 Westmont literature students will present on significant African figures and write short blog posts as follow up to their presentations. Through this blog, I hope students will not only learn new skills but will also contribute to knowledge about significant people from Africa, both historical and contemporary figures. Since this is a public blog, I will expect your posts to be written well, fact-checked, properly cited, and presented in a professional manner.

Here is the assignment as it is presented in the syllabus

Presentation and Post on Prominent African figure:  Each student will sign up for date to give a 5 minute presentation at the beginning of class. You will research and present biographical details on a prominent African figure: an actor, film director, author, politician, inventor, scientist, or other prominent personality. You will be graded on the organization, accuracy, and professionalism of your presentation. No later than the end of the week that you have presented, upload to the online discussion section a final draft of your presentation as a blog post on the “Beyond the Single Story” class blog, with relevant photos, illustrations, and a works cited section, linked to online sources where appropriate. Make sure that you caption any photos you use with source information (photographer/painter and the site where you got the photo) and link back to the source. As part of the editing process, set one of your photos as a featured image that will show up on the home page of the blog by clicking on the featured image option on the right side of your edit screen and choosing one of the photos you have uploaded into the post. Also click on the “Categories & Tags option and select the box that reads “biographies” and uncheck the box that reads “uncategorized.” You may use a draft of this post as your audio-visual material in your presentation.

-Dr. Carmen McCain, Department of English, Westmont College

Detail from a mural commissioned by Syl Williamson, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the mural was painted over by new owners in 2013. For more information about the murals, see


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