This course is about the history of African literature. The reading list includes some great works — novels by Africa's most eminent writers, epic poetry from medieval western Africa, plays from socialist Tanzania. But instead of focusing on the texts in themselves, we'll study how African writers, in their creative work, participated in the political and moral arguments of their time. In epic dramas, in novels, in poetry and in autobiographies, African composers conjured up audiences, fired them with a shared vision of the past and the future, and set them on a forward path together. By studying the social and political work that African writers did, this course explores the intersection of literature and history, and of imagination and politics.
There will be a mid-term examination and a final examination to test students' knowledge of the assigned texts, and a final paper where students will practice the work of interpreting literature.
This class has no required prerequisites, and all students interested in African literature and history are encouraged to enroll.
The course will be taught primarily as a discussion-based seminar, though the teacher will offer short lectures to explicate the reading.