Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

African Novels in the Classroom. .



Hay, Margaret Jean, ed. African Novels in the Classroom. Boulder, Colorado The City of Boulder (, Mountain Time Zone) is a home rule municipality located in Boulder County, Colorado, United States. Boulder is the 11th most populous city in the State of Colorado, as well as the most populous city and the county : Lynne Rienner, 2000. $55.00 hc. $29.95 sc. iv + 314 pp.

African Novels in the Classroom, edited by Margaret Jean Hay. is an important addition to the existing pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic   also ped·a·gog·i·cal
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.

2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner.
 works on the teaching of African literature African literature, literary works of the African continent. African literature consists of a body of work in different languages and various genres, ranging from oral literature to literature written in colonial languages (French, Portuguese, and English).  such as Thomas Hale and Richard Priebe's The Teaching of African Literature (1989) and Elizabeth Gunner's A Handbook for Teaching African Literature (1984). It is also an appropriate follow-up to Misty Bastian and Jane Parpart's Great Ideas for Teaching about Africa (1999). Hale and Priebe's study focuses on students and the problematics of teaching African literature. Bastian and Parpart's edition is, inversely, primarily concerned with the litegration of technology and African arts in the discipline and in the undergraduate curriculum, methods of teaching controversial issues, and the objective representation of Africa. Hay's African Novels, likewise, scrutinizes the various ways novels can mirror and humanize hu·man·ize  
tr.v. hu·man·ized, hu·man·iz·ing, hu·man·iz·es
1. To portray or endow with human characteristics or attributes; make human: humanized the puppets with great skill.

2.
 the history of Africa The History of Africa began in the Bronze Age with the earliest written records from ancient Egypt. Evolution of hominids and Homo sapiens in Africa

Main article: Human evolution
 even though literature does not provide "literal and historical truth" (9). Its significance in the field resides in its examination of pedagogical issues. It explores the reasons "why [instructors] choose a certain novel, what corollary readings they assign, what background information they present in lecture" (1). The collection skillfully delineates the themes of the novels, student assignments, study or discussion questions, and student engagement and responses to the literature. Hay's collection of essays on the teaching of African novels is indeed an excellent handbook for teachers who are considering integrating African texts into their courses as well as accomplished Africanist scholars. All instructors of African Literature will find useful pedagogical information on what motivates instructors' choices of texts, teaching methodologies in our contemporary classrooms, and student responses to the sundry texts discussed in the study.

The collection--encompassing 24 chapters on prominent Anglophone and Francophone novelists--covers well the diverse issues, writings, and countries of the continent. The authors also attempt to transmit the African world to Western students through Africans' perspectives and to personalize history. Richard Rathbone's chapter on Peter Abrahams's A Wreath for Udomo, for example, does an excellent job of demonstrating how Abrahams's novel constitutes "a major component in the processes of historical recovery of cultural identities" (8). In this essay he demonstrates how A Wreath for Udoino gives students a better understanding of the nationalist movement
For nationalist movements in general, see Nationalism.


The Nationalist Movement is a controversial Mississippi-based organization that advocates what it calls a "pro-majority" position.
 of Kwame Nkrumah Kwame Nkrumah (September 21, 1909 - April 27, 1972)[1], one of the most influential Pan-Africanists of the 20th century, served as the founder, and first President of Ghana.  and the socio-political atmosphere of the era. Martin A. Klein also details in his chapter on "Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart" how African literature is a port of entry to history. Emmanual Akeamong in "Ai Kwei Armah's The Beautiful Ones Arc Not Yet Born" also affirms the power of literature to lend a human dimension to history. Other chapter s in this hook, such as Janice Spleth's "Driss Chraibi's Mother Comes of Age" and Beverly Mack's "Lindsey Collen's The Rape of Sita," discuss the difficulties of teaching certain literary texts and provide, like the majority of chapters in the book, insightful thematic studies of the African novels and secondary teaching resources. Collectively, all the chapters provide helpfbl synopses, writing assignments, author biographies, study questions, bibliographies, and information on student responses. Barabara M. Cooper's "Ferdinand Qyono's Houseboy" and other chapters also provide historical and literary contexts, information on the place of the novel within the syllabus, and possible methods of generating class discussion.

While one cannot include all African novels within the collection, more Francophone samples would have enriched it. Indeed, Central Africa and Uganda are totally absent from the book while South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa.  and Nigeria have five entries apiece. Despite this minor shortcoming, that the editor justifies on the grounds of the disparity in literary production, the book provides the teacher of African literature with a wide gamut of writings, including oral literature represented by Niane's Sundiata epic.

The choice of works studied is thus appropriate yet intriguing. The inclusion of works such as Lindsey Collen's The Rape of Sita, Else Joubert's Poppie Nongena and Maryse Conde's Segu raises stimulating questions about authorship, the very definition of African literature, and the plasticity of its literary canon. Interestingly, the white South African Joubert narrates Poppie Nongena, a story of a black South African. Similarly, Collen, born in South Africa and currently living in Mauritius, is recommended for a course on Mauritian history or politics. Conde's Segu is also listed despite the fact that she is from Guadeloupe. She may have an apt understanding of the socio-political and economic transformations Africa has undergone, but does this make Richard Wright an African writer because he wrote about Ghana in Black Power? What then are the criteria for defining African literature? Is it point of view, themes, setting or geographical origins? The inclusion of Vassanji, on the other hand, brings to the coll ection the marginalized Indian perspective and experience, if it presents an African-Indian experience of Africa and not the perspective of an Indian expatriate. If theme and setting alone are the determining factors, why not include post-independence non-African expatriates? At best the Western, Caribbean and Indian selections compel the critic of African literature to ponder on issues of canonization canonization (kăn'ənĭzā`shən), in the Roman Catholic Church, process by which a person is classified as a saint. It is now performed at Rome alone, although in the Middle Ages and earlier bishops elsewhere used to canonize.  in African literature, academic representations of Africa, and the plasticity of African Literary studies that tend to absorb all black or colored identities under its umbrella.

In all, this is a much-needed book for any professor of literature who wishes to revamp or enrich his/her syllabus. Through its synopses of texts, biographies, and excellent pedagogical information and resources, this book empowers the instructor who is not conversant CONVERSANT. One who is in the habit of being in a particular place, is said to be conversant there. Barnes, 162.  with one of the African texts discussed or is uneasy about teaching non-Western literature to make informed decisions about what to include in his/her syllabus. This book not only provides the instructor possible assignments but also various teaching methods and approaches to writing. Teachers of African literature should read this book to reflect on their own teaching as well as the future and the nature of African literature.
COPYRIGHT 2002 West Chester University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Ngwarsungu, Chiwengon
Publication:College Literature
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2002
Words:981
Previous Article:Remapping Southern Literature: Contemporary Southern Writers and the West.
Next Article:Introduction: literature and the visual arts; questions of influence and intertextuality.



Related Articles
A selected checklist of works by and about Charles Johnson.
Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.
Links to Romance.
PARENT WANTS BOOK PULLED; PANEL SAYS NO.
Black, White, and "Huckleberry Finn": Re-imagining the American Dream. (Book Reviews).
In search of Hannah Crafts; critical essays on The Bondwoman's narrative.
Darryl Dickson-Carr. The Columbia Guide to Contemporary African American Fiction.
Bernard W. Bell. The Contemporary African American Novel: Its Roots and Modern Literary Branches.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters