African Literature and Social Change

African Literature and Social Change

Tribe, Nation, Race
George, Olakunle
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/16/2017
Format: Paperback 6 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02580-7
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Alert to the ways in which critical theory and imaginative literature can enrich each other, African Literature and Social Change reframes the ongoing project of African literature. Concentrating on texts that are not usually considered together--writings by little-known black missionaries, so called "black whitemen," and better-known 20th century intellectuals and creative writers--Olakunle George shows the ways in which these writings have addressed notions of ethnicity, nation, and race and how the debates need to be rehistoricized today. George presents Africa as a site of complex desires and contradictions, refashioning the way African literature is positioned within current discussions of globalism, diaspora, and postcolonialism.

Author Bio

Olakunle George is Associate Professor at Brown University. He is author of Relocating Agency: Modernity and African Letters and coeditor of The Encyclopedia of the Novel.


This book is a bold exploration of the complexity of different modes of writing about Africa in the context of current debates on the nature of the literary in the production of African knowledge. Concerned with a rhetoric of self-writing as it has developed over two hundred years, Olakunle George attends to local details within the larger configurations of colonial discourse in this ambitious and timely work. It is a caution against the neglect of the conditions of possibility that made an African literature possible.Olakunle George rethinks the entirety of African literature by considering texts from the 19th century and mid-20th century alongside canonical texts by Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and others, and thus expands the standard canon of African literature which begins roughly at independence in 1960.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Missionary Moments
1. Crossing Currents: Postcoloniality, Globalism, Diaspora
2. Mission Tide: Bishop S. A. Crowther and the "Black Whitemen"
3. Decolonization Time: Abrahams, James, Wright
4. Globalization Time: Achebe, Soyinka, and Beyond
Epilogue: Gaps

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