Studies in Contemporary African Fiction

Dr. Carmen McCain
carmen.mccain@kwasu.edu.ng
Office Hours: 12-1 pm Tuesdays, 12pm-1pm Wednesdays and by appointment
Class Time: Wednesdays, 10am-12pm

ENG 408: Studies in African Fiction: Contemporary Nigerian Fiction

 

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COURSE DESCRIPTION

In this course we will follow Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s call to “Move the Centre” by focusing on recent literature written in the space that is closest to us—Nigeria. We will ask questions such as: Who is the audience? What is the market for contemporary African literature? In what languages are Nigerian authors writing? How does contemporary Nigerian literature capture (or not) the kind of events happening around us? What themes re-occur in these works and how is fantasy or realism used in the novels?

Grade Breakdown

Continuous assessment: 40%

Attendance and class participation 10%

Short reviews posted online each week 10%

Final Paper Draft Due 23 March 5%

Final 6-7 page paper Due April 27 15%

Exam: 60%

Up to three points of Extra Credit for additional reviews

 

Books and Short Stories We Will Read in this Class:

Short Stories:

“Howl” by Rotimi Babatunde in A Memory This Size and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2013 p. 147-171 (see photocopy or book on library reserve)

“The Witch’s Dog” by Helon Habila in Granta, 92, (Winter 2005)185-190

“Jermyn” by Chikodili Emelumadu in Eclectica 

The Headstrong Historian” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in The Thing Around Your Neck, p. 198-218.

“From Mace Mutum” by Rahama Abdulmajid, trans. Ibrahim Malumfashi in Words Without Borders

“The Book of Remembered Things” by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, in A Memory This Size and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2013. p.172-188. (See photocopy or book on library reserve)

“Love in a Time of Protests” by Elnathan John in A Dark Corner, first published by Zam Magazine

Novels

The Virtuous Woman by Zaynab Alkali

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin (on library reserve)

Sin is a Puppy… that follows you Home by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu

Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila

What Sunny Saw in the Flames by Nnedi Okorafor (on library reserve)

Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John

 

Recommended African Novels (for further reading)

To Saint Patrick by Eghosa Imasuen (Available for N200 on okadabooks)

Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen (Available for N50 on okadabooks Part 1, Part 2)

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila

On Black Sister’s Street by Chika Unigwe

 

Required and Recommended African Novels on Reserve in the KWASU Library

A Memory This Size and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2013

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

What Sunny Saw in the Flames by Nnedi Okorafor

Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe

Nairobi Heat by Mukoma wa Ngugi

I Do Not Come to You By Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

  

ASSIGNMENTS 

Short Reviews:

After each novel we read, each student will write a short review that you will post in an online forum about the book, either Amazon.com, goodreads, a blog, or an open facebook post. You will then send the link to the post to me. You will be graded on the thoughtfulness and analytical insights of your post. Remember that if you are giving away plot details, you should post SPOILER ALERT at the beginning of the post, as a courtesy to other readers who have not yet read the novels or short stories. For tips on how to write a book review, see these links:

http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/asenjo.shtml

http://eolit.hrw.com/hlla/writersmodel/pdf/W_S0802.pdf

 

Final Paper:

You will write a final 6-7 page analytical paper studying at least one of the novels we have studied in class. You may compare or contrast themes in novels we have read or do a detailed analysis of a specific motif or metaphor you found in one of the other novels. You may also compare and contrast one of the novels we read in class to a novel or film you accessed outside of class. The first draft of this 6-7 page paper will be due 23 March. The second draft will be due on 27 April.

Extra Credit: You may earn up to 3 points of extra credit for each additional review of an African novel you make in an online forum like Amazon.com, Goodreads, a blog, or an open facebook post. Each additional review will be worth 1 point and to get the extra credit, it must be on a book we have not read in class and it must match the thoughtful analysis of the posts we have read for class.

 

SCHEDULE

Introduction

Week 1: January 27: Introduction to the course. Questionnaire. Read Short Stories for next week.

It’s a Dog’s Life

“Howl” by Rotimi Babatunde, p. 147-171 (see photocopy or library reserves)

“The Witch’s Dog” by Helon Habila  185-190

“Jermyn” by Chikodili Emelumadu

 

Women’s Stories

Week 2: February 3

Read for next week:”The Headstrong Historian” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, p. 198-218. The Virtuous Woman by Zaynab Alkali

Week 3: February 10: Read for next week: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Week 4: February 17: Read for next week: Sin is a Puppy… that follows you Home by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu and “From Mace Mutum” by Rahama Abdulmajid

Re-arranging History, Moving into the Future

Week 5: February 24: Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila

Week 6: March 2: TBA

Week 7: March 9: What Sunny Saw in the Flames by Nnedi Okorafor

 

The Fearful Present

 

Week 8: March 16: Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John

Week 9: March 23: “The Book of Remembered Things” by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, p172-188 “Love in a Time of Protests” by Elnathan John

Draft of Final Paper DUE

(24-25 March Midterm Break)

Week 10: March 30:

TBA

 

Week 11: April 5 (Study Break – Dr. McCain travelling to a conference)

Week 12: April 12 (Study Break – Dr. McCain travelling to a conference)

Week 13: April 20 (Study Break – Dr. McCain travelling to a conference)

Week 14: April 27: Exam Review. Final Paper Due

(30 April, classes end)

Exams 2-7 May

 

CLASSROOM POLICIES

Attendance is required. You are allowed two absences. In the course of any semester, illnesses and emergencies come up. Wise students will reserve their absences for emergencies. I expect you to be respectful of your classmates and me by coming to class on time, by switching phones to silent before class starts, refraining from texting or Whatsapp during class, and by keeping your attention focused on the discussion at hand. I dock grades for habitual lateness. Any student caught plagiarizing will fail the class.

Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is the act of using other people’s words or ideas without giving them credit or even failing to give them credit in the right way. Anytime you borrow information from another text, whether you directly quote it or not, you must correctly cite the work you borrowed from in a parenthetical citation. If you are directly quoting from a text, the quotation MUST be placed within quotation marks for quotes under 4 lines of texts. Quotes over 4 lines of texts should be indented two tabs on the left side. Quotations should be used only to reinforce your own argument and should not be over a quarter of your paper. There are hardly ever occasions where you would need to quote over 10-15 lines of text, and even more rarely an occasion when you would need to quote over a page! If you are not sure if you are correctly citing works you borrow from, check with me. For more information on how to correctly cite your work, see the following links: http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/Acknowledging_Sources.pdf,

http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/Documentation.html

Guidelines for Evaluating Participation in class and online discussion§

Outstanding Contributor: Contributions in class reflect exceptional preparation. Ideas offered are always substantive, provide one or more major insights as well as direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and persuasively presented. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished markedly.

Good Contributor: Contributions in class reflect thorough preparation. Ideas offered are usually substantive, provide good insights and sometimes direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and often persuasive. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished.

Adequate Contributor: Contributions in class reflect satisfactory preparation. Ideas offered are sometimes substantive, provide generally useful insights but seldom offer a new direction for the discussion. Challenges are sometimes presented, fairly well substantiated, and are sometimes persuasive. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished somewhat.

Non-Participant: This person says little or nothing in class. Hence, there is not an adequate basis for evaluation. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would not be changed.

Unsatisfactory Contributor: Contributions in class reflect inadequate preparation. Ideas offered are seldom substantive, provide few if any insights and never a constructive direction for the class. Integrative comments and effective challenges are absent. If this person were not a member of the class, valuable air-time would be saved.

 

 

  • Note: I obtained these guidelines from the 2005-2006 UW Comm-B Sourcebook, as submitted by Prof. Virginia Sapiro in Women’s Studies. Prof. Sapiro obtained the rubric from Professor John Tyler of Brown University. http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/pedagogy/particip-assessm.shtml. Prof. Tyler obtained these guidelines from Prof. Richard J. Murnane at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prof. Murnane, in turn, learned of them from someone else. Although the original attribution for the guidelines has been lost, they continue to be so useful to so many.

 

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