Comparative Literature | Multicultural Nigeria
C361 | 1227 | Marc Caplan


TR 1:00-2:15 BH 316
Satisfies COAS Cultural Studies and A & H requirements.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is home to more than 134
million people, and approximately 250 ethnic groups. It also has the
most active and honored literary culture in Anglophone Africa, with a
literary community that includes authors such as Chinua Achebe, the
Booker Prize recipient Ben Okri, and the 1986 Nobel Laureate Wole
Soyinka. Nonetheless, since achieving independence in 1960, Nigeria
has been a strife-ridden nation that has seen devastating political
corruption, military dictatorship and coups d’etat, civil war and
ethnic genocide, and ongoing ethnic, religious, and regional
conflicts. This course will examine the cultural history of Nigeria
through a broad selection of literary works, incorporating
translations from Yoruba and Ijaw, popular literature written in
colloquial Nigerian English, and outstanding works of belles lettres
in a variety of genres. Among the topics we will consider are the
conflict between ethnic and national identity; the struggle to
preserve individual autonomy in the face of colonialism, warfare, and
state coercion; the competition between tradition and modernity; the
effect of native African languages on African English; and the
preservation (or superceding) of oral narrative forms in modern
literature. Nigeria thus provides a focused context for discussing
literary and political problems confronting many cultures, throughout
history and around the world. Requirements for this course will
include two formal essays, a mid-term and final exam, and regular
class participation.