Studies: Postcolonial Lit

Course Description

This class investigates a recent manifestation in African literatures: the theme of migration. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that migration may very well be the most pressing political and social issue of our time. Thus, it is no surprise that migration would be reflected in contemporary African literature. This is not to suggest that migration has never been dramatized in African literature before its contemporary manifestation, but it is to suggest that there has, in fact, been a hard turn toward reflecting migration in African literature. This class seeks to investigate why this turn has occurred, and what implications it has on African literature. We will investigate the political and social dynamics that have produced literary representations of migration. We will also investigate the politics of representing migration – that is, we will investigate the politics of writing about migration. For example, are recent migration texts marketed primarily for a curious western audience who want to consume the exotic “Other”? Are they, too, primarily concerned with delivering an easily replicable genre convention? Do these texts, as some critics argue, fall prey to the “danger of a single story” where the west is set up as the savior to the ills faced by Africans and Africa? Alternatively, do “afropolitan” narratives hide these ills by masking them with a celebration of life in the black diaspora?


Required Texts

Emezi, Akwaeke. Freshwater: Novel

Diop, Boubacar. Murambi, The Book of Bones: A Novel

Bulawayo, NoViolet. We Need New Names: A Novel

Osondu, E.C. Voice of America

Mengestu, Dinaw. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears

Achebe, Chinua. No Longer at Ease: A Novel

Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing: A Novel

Cole, Teju. Open City: A Novel