Sunday, February 21, 2010

University of Notre Dame offers free online course in Haitian language and culture

The University of Notre Dame is offering Professor Karen Richman's "Creole Language and Culture" class as a free online course. Dr. Richman recommends this course for anyone who is planning to participate in the ongoing disaster relief effort in Haiti or who works with Haitians in other countries. It is also recommended for those who want to know more about this country whose history is so closely tied with our own.

The course is designed to introduce people "to the vivid, sonorous language of Kreyòl, or Creole, and to the culture and history of its speakers." Dr. Richman assures potential students that this is a "beginning-level course... intended for students with no knowledge of Creole." It uses a "multilateral approach," including music and film as well as individual assignments, to enhance language acquisition. In addition, language study is augmented with segments that engage students in learning about Haitian history, culture and religion.

The objectives of this course are to:

  • Build elementary skills in listening, reading, writing, and speaking Creole.

  • Gain basic insights into Haitian history, society, culture, and religion.

  • Be able to converse at a basic level.

Dr. Richman serves as the Director of the Center for Migration and Border Studies for Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies. She lived in Haiti and she is one of the world's leading scholars on Haitian culture, religion, labor and language. Dr. Richman is the author of Migration and Vodou, a book that sheds light on the myths about vodou (or "voodoo") that have been used against Haitians for centuries. She won the 2009 Heizer award for the best article in the field of ethnohistory for her article, "Innocent Imitations? Mimesis and Alterity in Haitian Vodou Art." Her latest essay, "Run from the Earthquake, Fall into the Abyss: A Léogâne Paradox" can be found here.

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