Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana

Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana

Stephanie Newell
Distribution: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvado
Publication date: 08/30/2002
Format: Paperback 11 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21526-0
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... a book that will break new ground in African cultural studies.... [it] will appeal not only to literary scholars but also to social historians and cultural anthropologists." —Karin Barber

Focusing on the broad educational aims of the colonial administration and missionary societies, Stephanie Newell draws on newspaper archives, early unofficial texts, and popular sources to uncover how Africans used literacy to carve out new cultural, social, and economic spaces for themselves. Newly literate Africans not only shaped literary tastes in colonial Africa but also influenced how and where English was spoken; established standards for representations of gender, identity, and morality; and created networks for African literary production, dissemination, and reception throughout British West Africa. Newell reveals literacy and reading as powerful social forces that quickly moved beyond the missionary agenda and colonial regulation. A fascinating literary, social, and cultural history of colonial Ghana, Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana sheds new light on understandings of the African colonial experience and the development of postcolonial cultures in West Africa.

Author Bio

Stephanie Newell lectures in Postcolonial Literature in the English Department at Trinity College, Dublin. She is author of Ghanaian Popular Fiction (Currey; Ohio, 2000), and editor of Readings in African Popular Fiction (IUP).


“By digging into the roots of Ghana's literary culture, and especially by tracing their growth within the rich soil of shifting gender and status relations, Newell reveals how much more satisfying and multidimensional our grasp of modern African history can become.”
 — International Journal of African Historical Studies

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Formation of Readerships
1. "Paracolonial" Networks: The Rise of Literary and Debating Societies in Colonial Ghana
2. "Are Women Worse than Men?": Literary Clubs and the Expression of New Masculinities
3. The "Problem" of Literacy: "Good" and "Bad" Literature for African Readers
4. Why Read The Sorrows of Satan?: Marie Corelli's West African Readerships
5. "The Whole Library in a Pocket Handkerchief": Creative Writing in the Vernaculars
6. Ethical Fiction: Casely Hayford's Ethiopia Unbound
7. "Been-Tos" and "Never-Beens": Kobina Sekyi's Satires of Fante Society
8. White Cargoes/Black Cargoes on the West Coast of Africa: Mabel Dove's A Woman in Jade
9. R. E. Obeng's Eighteenpence: The First Ghanaian Novel?
Conclusion: The Production of an African Aesthetic