AFA 318: Women Writers of the African World

Prof. Patricia Emenyonu, Fall 2015

Course Description

"A survey course of literature by women from Africa, the Caribbean, and North America,  it seeks to introduce the writers, their works and the experiences that inform their writings.  Beginning with a consideration of traditional African oral forms, through the initial experiences in the New World, to more modern representations of literature, the course foregrounds African and Diasporan experiences of women.  Some of these may be sociological, political, and/or economic factors.  It will examine the diverse ways deployed by women to discuss issues that are relevant to them as well as the techniques and recurring motifs used in their works.  Among the authors read are Buchi Emecheta from Nigeria, Edwidge Denticat from Haiti, and Alice Walker from the United States and in addition, excerpts from the work of Patricia Hill Collins, Obioma Nnaemeka, Jamaica Kincaid, Maryse Conde, bell hooks, Toni Cade Bambara, and more.  Some of the issues explored are feminism, womanism, sexism, patriarchy, racism and classism as well as maternity and independence, mammies, matriarchs, and other controlling images of black women."

--Syllabus for AFA 318: Women Writers of the African World, Fall 2015

Course Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate in writing an awareness of the depth and scope of the contributions of women of African descent throughout the world to an international literary canon.
  • Define and enumerate who many of the contemporary African women writers of the diaspora are.
  • Compare and contrast feminism and womanism and list the six distinguishing features of Black Feminist Thought.
  • Analyze and explain the connections between a writer’s life/culture and her work.
  • Show from the historical perspective the development of the various literary genres that women writers of the African world have espoused.
  • Examine the themes and issues that face African and Diasporan women that are depicted in the required novels read.
  • Compare and contrast the portrayal of male and female characters in the novels of Emecheta, Ba, and Walker.
  • Compile the authors’ literary techniques and special stylistic features used in their novels.
  • Appraise the novels’ value to the contemporary English-speaking world literary canon.
  • Summarize the impact that these female authors had on you as a person.

--Syllabus for AFA 318 Women Writers of the African World, Fall 2015

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