This course is a lively detailed exploration of the many ways writers, scholars, and readers have tried to understand African literature – how they explain its origins, languages, contents, forms, functions, genres, and audiences. We will also investigate the social contexts of the production of the literature, where and how it is published and circulated, and how it is read and by who and where. This, broadly, is what “theory of African literature” means. We will study the dominant scholarly approaches to analyzing the literature such as formalism, Negritude, feminism, postcolonialism, eco-criticism, and postmodernism. The goal of the course is not to teach European literary theories and how they can be “applied” to African literature; its goal is a critical study of the many ways, “local” or “foreign,” African literature has been theorized by those who write and comment on the literature.
Readings: Selections of articles, book chapters, and critical commentaries.
Course requirements: Class presentation, one midterm paper, and one final paper.