ELL2010S SEMINAR OUTLINES, 2014

   

 

ELL2010S.1 POPULAR CULTURE AND THE AFRICAN NOVEL

Lecturer: Christopher Ouma
Seminar Outline:
This seminar looks at a range of cultural production: literary magazines, pamphlet literature and other cultural magazines that have, alongside other media, been the contexts in which African literature has developed for the last half a century. Covering a wide regional arc, it will move between East, West and Southern Africa, tracing various mediated texts and contexts of cultural production, from Onitsha Market literature and Nollywood in pre and post-independent Nigeria to Chimurenga and Kwani? In contemporary Eastern and Southern Africa.

Primary Texts:
Cyprian Ekwensi, People of the City/Jagua Nana
Meja Mwangi, Going Down River Road,
Chris Abani, Graceland

Assesment: 2 essays (40% each – 2000 words Each); DP 10% ; Oral presentation 10%


ELL2010S.2 POPULAR CULTURE AND THE AFRICAN NOVEL

Lecturer: Christopher Ouma
Seminar Outline:
Same as above


ELL2010S.3 LITERATURE OF THE ZIMBABWE SECOND CHIMURENGA

Lecturer: Kelwyn Sole
Seminar Outline:
Through the study of four novels (all published between 1980 and 1997) this course will attempt to examine the Second Chimurenga, or War of Liberation, in Zimbabwe in the period from the late 1960s to 1980. Students will scrutinize the thematic concerns, socio-political preoccupations and analysis of this war as refracted through its fiction; and will look at the vastly differing novelistic structures and formal means through which the four novelists attempt to achieve their objectives.  Finally, we will discuss how the issues and problems that emerged in this war have influenced the course of Zimbabwe subsequently, up until this day.

Primary Texts:
A Harvest of Thorns – Shimmer Chinodya (Baobab or Heinemann pbk)
The Non-Believer’s Journey – Stanley Nyamfukudza (ZPH  or Heinemann pbk)
Bones –Chenjerai Hove (David Philip or Heinemann pbk)
Echoing Silences – Alexander Kanengoni (Baobab or Heinemann pbk)

The course will also examine some poetry of the period. To this end, handouts will be given to you in class.

(Please note that many of these novels are out of print; however, electronic versions are available in the library).

Assessment:
TBA


ELL2010S.4 ALLEGORIES OF AFRICAN WRITING

Lecturer: Harry Garuba
Seminar Outline:

In his often cited essay, “Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism,” Frederic Jameson says:

All third-world texts are necessarily, I want to argue, allegorical, and in a specific way: they are to be read as national allegories, even when, or perhaps I should say, particularly when their forms develop out of predominantly western machineries of representation such as the novel. (69)

In this seminar, we will explore some of the allegorical ways in which African literary texts have been read; ways that suggest – to use Jameson’s words again – that “the story of the private individual destiny is always an allegory of the embattled situation of the third-world culture or society” (69). This year, we focus specifically on the reflectionist paradigm in African literature and the arguments for and against reading literary texts as authentic reflections of an African reality or as national allegories or as allegories of class, gender, etc.  

Primary Texts:
Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman (Drama)
Christopher Okigbo, “Heavengate,” and “Distances” Labyrinths  (Poetry)
Mariama Ba, So Long a Letter (Prose)

Assessment:
1. Class assignments: one seminar presentation and a bibliography of no less than five references generated on each of the primary texts = 25%
2. One Bibliographic essay (see topic below) of no more than 1,500 words = 25%
3. Take-home examination long essay of 2,500 words  = 50%


ELL2010S.5 ‘AN ISLAND IS A WORLD’: CARIBBEAN WRITING, DECOLONIZATION, AND THE POSTCOLONY

Lecturer: Brittani Nivens
Seminar Outline:
In this seminar we explore writing (fiction, poetry, drama and theory) and film that can be described as “Caribbean”, all produced around the widespread decolonisation of the islands of the region. Taking its title from the Caribbean novelist Samuel Selvon’s novel, An Island is a World, this course offers the islands of the Caribbean as microcosms of post-coloniality and its staging of tradition and modernity, and past and possible futures. As such, we will consider the decolonization of the region in relation to the simultaneous liberation of parts of Africa and Asia (with special emphasis on India). Grappling with the ways in which these writers sought to articulate a regional West Indian/Caribbean identity in the face of burgeoning island-nationalisms and ethnic divisions. In this way we will think through migration, (im)possible diasporic returns (to Africa and India) in Caribbean life and literature, and the limits of geographically overdetermined definitions of identity in terms of ancestral “roots”. We will explore the Caribbean as one of the first modern-day postcolonial regions to contend with the construct of the ‘rainbow nation’.

Prescribed texts:
Maran, René, Batouala (1921)
Sam Selvon, An Island is a World (1955)
Derek Walcott, Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967)
V.S. Naipaul, Guerillas (1975)
Maryse Condé, Heremakhonon (1982)

Assessment:
In-class presentation (15 minutes) and class participation (15%)
Reader response Wiki (15%)
Essay (35%)
Final Take-home test (35%)


ELL2010S.6 EXISTENTIAL ALIENATION / THREE NOVELS OF AYI KWEI ARMAH

Lecturer: Kavish Chetty
Seminar Outline
In this seminar, we will study three novels which thematise existential alienation. Alienation is, perhaps, the definitive experience of the modern world and gives rise to “negative” affective states like depression, boredom and melancholia. Here, rather than regard these experiences as pharmaceutically-neutralisable aberrations of “ordinary” experience, we will pause over the diagnostic potential of alienation as an intimate force which reveals some of the profounder crises and contradictions of modernity and modern living, especially as they play out in the peripheries of the world-system, and especially as they come to be intimately felt in everyday life.

Alienation is therefore our occasion for a range of intellectual activities: with an emphasis on the exploratory powers of close reading, we will consider the ways in which representations of alienation in literature demand peculiar formal strategies and reveal the complex relationships between writing, identity and colonialism. Reading three novels, by radical African writers Ayi Kwei Armah and Dambudzo Marechera, we will elaborate critical issues around modernity, neo-colonial economics, cultural and epistemic imperialism, negative affective states as moments of radical discontent, the problematic of writing the African self and the ways in which literature condenses and mediates global history and politics.  

Prescribed texts:
Ayi Kwei Armah – The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born [1968]
Ayi Kwei Armah – Two Thousand Seasons [1973]
Dambudzo Marechera – The House of Hunger [1976]

Assessment:
Class participation [20%]
Question Sheet [40%]
Essay [40%]