2020-2021 Afrofuturism Syllabus - Week 22

2020-2021 Afrofuturism Syllabus - Week 22


Welcome to Week 22 of the ZORA! Festival 2020-2021 Afrofuturism Course!

Please begin by reviewing About the Course for an introduction and orientation to the 2020-2021 Afrofuturism Syllabus, which bridges the organizing themes of the first two years of the five-year Afrofuturism Conference Cycle: "What is Afrofuturism?" and "What is the Sound of Afrofuturism?"

Note: Each week the course coordinator will release new content related to the conference themes. Content posted here will remain publicly accessible and may be incorporated into other courses, in part or in full, via links to this site. Suggested citation: French, Scot. Syllabus for ZORA! Festival Afrofuturism Course, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fall 2020-Spring 2021. STARS, https://stars.library.ucf.edu/afrofuturism_syllabus_about/.


In the Conversations segment we share resources featuring participants and topics from the 2020-2021 ZORA! Festival Afrofuturism Conference.

Through the conference materials, podcasts, and webinars, we've explored Afrofuturist visions in the words/music/stage performances of Sun Ra and George Clinton/Parliament-Funkadelic, whose recorded work dates to 1960s/70s. This week, we will consider where scholars hear the sound of Afrofuturism in popular music today, and their perspectives on Janelle Monae's neo-Afrofuturist vision and its connection to Clinton/P-Funk antecedents.

For this week, we'll begin by reading a scholarly essay that examines the "neo-Afrofuturist" funk of Janelle Monae's "Metropolis Saga" and "ArchAndroid" as both an outgrowth and a critical departure from the earlier work of George Clinton and P-Funk.

You can find the essay here.

Next, we will view several videos:

  • WATCH: The Defiant Sci-Fi of Janelle Monae
  • WATCH: Janelle Monae "Many Moons" (2009) - music video
  • WATCH: Janelle Monae, "Dirty Computer" (2018) - music video
  • WATCH: "Do Y'All Know About Afrofuturism?" Janelle Monáe at Red Bull Music Academy (2018) - starts at 1h 12m with reference to Black Panther


In the Explorations segment we pose a series of questions for further investigation and class discussion, based on the featured Conversation. As you listen to the explore this week's resources, consider the following questions:

  • How does Janelle Monae's vision of African American identity and technoculture fit into your understanding of Afrofuturism and its sound?
  • What makes the story in Janelle Monae's "Metropolis" and "ArchAndroid" Afrofuturist?
  • How does Janelle Monae see her music in relation to the '70s Afrofuturist funk of Sun Ra and George Clinton?
  • How do scholars view the interrelationship between these two "generations" of Afrofuturist music/performance?

Until Next Year

This is the final week in this year's syllabus. We look forward to returning next year to explore the theme: What is the Vision of Afrofuturism?