English 139

The Cultures of English: The African Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2008 Jones, Donna V.
Jones, Donna
TTh 2-3:30 200 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart; Amos Tutuola: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts; Ben Okri: The Famished Road; Moses Isegawa: Snakepit; Helon Habila: Waiting for an Angel; Tsitsi Dangaremba: Nervous Condition; Ahmadou Korouma: Waiting for the Vote of the Wild Animals; Frantz Fanon: Wretched of the Earth


In this course we will examine the history of the African novel, from narratives of exploration, colonial dominance, and ethnographic encounter to the reassertion of tribal, ancestral, linguistic legitimacy in the late- and post-colonial novel. We will be examining the ways in which the European encounter with Africa takes the form of various kinds of enchantment, and the complex ways in which African writers have narrated both the disenchantment of colonialism and the reinvention of an enchanted world, the reimagined spirits of history, the novel, and Africa. Perhaps more than any other location, Africa has labored beneath a mountain of misconception. Labeled the �dark continent,� it has become the field onto which the anxieties of modernity have been fixed�its fears of the so-called primitive and the irrational. This course shall focus on the question of African modernity. Naturally, the social and political context of de-colonization and postcoloniality shall be central, yet we shall also spend considerable time on the question of aesthetics. The contemporary African novel has moved a considerable distance from the modernizing directives of the realist novel; radical experimentation in the form of the folkloric and ludic are deployed to express the often horrific and chaotic realities of life in the postcolony.

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