English R1A

Reading & Composition: The African Writer

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Fall 2008 Aaron Bady
TTh 9:30-11 305 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart; Amos Tutuola, The Palm Wine Drinkard; Wole Soyinka, The Lion and the Jewel; Ngugi wa Thiong�o, The River Between and Matagari; Yvonne Vera, Butterfly Burning; Mia Couto, Under the Frangipani


"Africa's literatures are old, rich, and vast, from epic poems and religious verse to an extensive dramatic and storytelling folk culture that can be found in almost every corner of the continent. This class, however, will focus on *modern * African writers, men and women who have written with pen, typewriter, or computer, who publish in European languages rather than in those of their ancestors, and whose books are more often read by affluent readers in the West than by other Africans.

They are also, it is worth noting, the first writers to consider themselves African at all. Before the British created the colonial Nigerian state, for example, Igbo people, Yoruba people, Hausa-Fulani people, Ijaw people, and hundreds of other ethnic groups inhabiting the region surrounding the Niger river not only didn�t ""realize"" they were Nigerians (a term they had never heard), but didn�t even think of themselves as Africans. The word, after all, was coined by the Romans thousands of years ago to describe the continent to their south but until the twentieth century it was never a word used by the people it described. Nation-states are, however, only part of colonialism�s legacy: when colonialists forced Africans to put aside the traditions and languages of their communities, they forced them into schools and churches, teaching them to read the bible and write in English, or French, or Portuguese. This course will ask the interesting question, therefore, of what it means to be an African writer.

This course also aims to develop students� ability to write persuasively, clearly, and precisely about literature. Students will therefore learn how to construct strong sentences and paragraphs, develop thesis statements, organize textual evidence and analysis, and make forceful interpretive arguments. Your writing will move from online responses to the reading to handed-in assignments to papers revised in consultation with me."

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