WiSe 16/17: S-Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures II: The New Black Atlantic
Between 1500 and 1900, approximately four million enslaved Africans were transported to island plantations in the Indian Ocean, with eight million more shipped to Mediterranean countries and eleven million to the New World. Since then, the extraordinary numbers of voluntary emigrations from Africa to other parts of the world, and in particular to Europe and the Americas, has resulted in what is now referred to the ‘African Diaspora’. Whilst scholars such as Richard Iton have referred to this as a ‘culture of dislocation’, others such as Paul Gilroy have suggested that the cross-Atlantic flows and movements of people between Africa, Europe and the Americas in fact gives rise to an intellectual and political cross-fertilisation that is constitutive of Modernity itself. According to Gilroy, this is a culture that is not specifically African, nor Caribbean, nor American, nor British, but all of them at once. It is a culture that is intrinsically hybrid and, as such, gives rise to the unexpected and the new. Yet to what extent is this unrestrained enthusiasm for the creative productiveness of the African diaspora reflected in very recent cultural productions of the Black Atlantic? To what extent have the hybrid cross-cuts and cultural refractions of cosmopolitan Atlantic movements allowed African writers and artists to transcend the conditions of racial and ethnic prejudice that have plagued the diaspora since its inception? Over the course of the semester, students will examine key texts by writers and artists from the African diaspora, with a focus on the Nigerian disaspora, who variously negotiate the difficulties and/or delights of movement between worlds, cultures and languages. Using Gilroy’s conception of the Black Atlantic and Stuart Hall’s theories on cultural identity, students will critically analyse the work of Nigerian writers and artists who have emigrated (voluntarily or not) to Europe, the Americas or both, and whose work can be seen to negotiate the difficult conjunctions and refractions of cross-cultural and cross-linguistic movement.
Set Texts: Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Americanah. Fourth Estate, 2014. Cole, Teju. Open City. Faber & Faber, 2012. Cole, Teju. Every Day is for the Thief. Faber & Faber, 2007. Equiano, Oladauh. The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings. Penguin Classics, 2003.
A Course Reader will be made available on Blackboard prior to the beginning of semester.
Assessment: one 4000-word essay due after the end of semesterclose
15 Class schedule