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Contemporary African Literature

This course will introduce you to the rich, diverse contemporary African literary scene. We will study in detail three novels by African writers that have been published in the last ten years, alongside essays and short stories by African writers and thinkers across the continent. As we read the novels, we will look both at literary form and at the big ideas that the texts explore, such as history, gender and sexuality, the postcolonial context, diaspora, family and childhood. We will also learn about the context for publishing contemporary African literature, and we will think together about approaches to reading African writing.
  • Who is it for?

    This course is for anyone with an interest in African literature. No prior knowledge or previous experience of reading literary texts is required. If you do have some experience of reading African literature, you should also find this course a suitable extension and deepening of your knowledge and understanding of contemporary African fiction.

  • What does it cover?

    The novels we will study include:

    NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names
    Chinelo Okparanta, Under the Udala Trees
    Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

    Alongside these, we will look at essays, short stories and extracts from work of other contemporary African writers, artists and critics from across the continent.

    By the end of the course, you should be able to:

    ' understand the trajectories of contemporary African fiction, and the context for publishing and reading African writing
    ' identify and interpret key themes in contemporary African fiction, such as history, gender and sexuality, the postcolonial context, diaspora, family and childhood.
    ' acquire a rich textual, contextual, and critical knowledge of each text and author

  • What will it be like?

    Classes will typically consist of an introduction to the topic and relevant themes by the tutor; close reading of extracts from the texts; open discussion of the themes and ideas evoked by the texts; small group work; and suggestions for further reading.

    We will assess your expectations of the course in the first session, and we will monitor your progress through class discussion.

  • What else do I need to buy or do?

    It is not essential but highly recommended that you have a hard copy of the texts we will study. The texts are all available via mainstream booksellers, and should also be widely available to buy second-hand. Selected extracts from the texts, and further supporting material, will also be made available to you.

    Beyond reading the set texts, we do not require any extra study or practice outside the class; however, the tutor will provide suggestions for further reading and links to other resources should you wish to deepen your knowledge of any of the texts and topics discussed.

  • What could it lead to?

    You could continue into the next course in the series 'Masterpieces of World Literature'. You may also want to consider further courses at the Centre or other similar institution.

Available Courses

Contemporary African Literature

This course will introduce you to the rich, diverse contemporary African literary scene. We will study in detail three novels by African writers that have been published in the last ten years, alongside essays and short stories by African writers and thinkers across the continent. As we read the novels, we will look both at literary form and at the big ideas that the texts explore, such as history, gender and sexuality, the postcolonial context, diaspora, family and childhood. We will also learn about the context for publishing contemporary African literature, and we will think together about approaches to reading African writing.

27 February 2025 – 03 April 2025
Thursday, 18:30 to 20:30
Course Code:457
£87 / £30
6 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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28 February 2025 – 04 April 2025
Friday, 10:30 to 12:30
Course Code:456
£83 / £29
6 Meetings
High Street, Stratford
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Meet The Tutor

For more information contact The Departmental Administrator at admin@marywardcentre.ac.uk

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