Villanova University


ENG 2790.001

Introduction to African Literature II

Instructor: Dr. Chiji Akoma

Office: St. Augustine Center 423

Office hours: MW 11:00 am—Noon; T Noon—1: 00 pm & by appointment

Phone: 610-519-6967

Email: (this is the quickest way to reach me)

Class time & venue: MW 3:00 pm-4:15 pm; Tolentine Hall 204

Description and Objectives: This course is the second part of a two-semester survey of the various literary practices that abound in Africa, especially, Africa south of the Sahara. In this segment, we focus primarily on fiction and drama; we will also read a selection of poems. Whereas the first segment privileged African oral performance and its impact on written literature, this part of the course will examine aspects of nationalism in African literature and devote considerable space to writings by African women and on the condition of women in the continent. With the recent election in Liberia of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Africa’s first female President, it’s even more urgent to explore the political and economic contributions of African women vis-à-vis cultural or social structures in their communities.

At the end of the semester, students would be expected to have gained insight into modern African literary traditions, African cultural value systems, and the influence of colonialism on contemporary Africa. Students would also have been introduced to literary criticism of African literature, while honing their own skills on literary appreciation.

Required Texts:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus

Neshani Andreas, Purple Violet of Oshaantu

Athol Fugard, Valley Song

Flora Nwapa, Efuru

Wole Soyinka, The Lion and the Jewel

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, A Grain of Wheat

Selected Poems

Special Note: "Students with disabilities who require academic accommodations should schedule an appointment to discuss specifics with me. It is the policy of Villanova to make reasonable academic accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. You must present verification and register with the Learning Support Office by contacting 610-519-5636 or at Registration is needed in order to receive accommodations."





►Movie Review (3-4pp) 15%: You will be provided with a list of African feature films that are available at Falvey. From the list select one movie for review, paying attention to how the action in the movie sheds light on your understanding of artistic expression in Africa.

►Response Essay (3pp) 15%: This essay is aimed at evaluating your ability to gather and process information from your own perspective. It encourages you to make sense of, perhaps, an unfamiliar subject through the prism of your own experience. The primary subject will be on Africa, but you will be required to compare that subject to an American equivalent. As your first writing event, it will give me the opportunity to gain first impressions of your writing ability.

►Critical Essay (5pp) 20%: This assignment is aimed at testing your analytical skills in literary appreciation. You will be provided with a list of topics from which you choose one. The critical essay is a highly formal essay that follows a coherent development of paragraphs based on a well formulated thesis. Each paragraph has a discernible topic sentence and elaboration of the topic that is grounded in the analysis of relevant textual evidence. You will be given the opportunity for rewrite if necessary.

►Midterm exam 20%: The midterm exam will focus on themes and styles in texts already discussed in class by the time of the test. This will be an in-class written exam.

►Final exam (10%): The class will determine the format for this exam—menu of texts to be tested on, in-class or take-home; short or long answers, etc. Whatever the format, the exam will test your understanding of the key concepts, background information, and pivotal aspects of the texts discussed in class.

►Class Participation (20%): This is a discussion driven and student centered class, so I expect you to be actively involved in discussions and other class activities that would generate the robust energy needed for a successful meeting. Active participation includes completing assignments on time, being present for impromptu writing assignments and quizzes. Students who record four or more unexcused absences will receive no points for class participation. The more egregious the attendance record is, the worse the final grade will be. You are strongly advised to use all means available to contact me if you need to be excused from class in an emergency. Athletes must submit necessary paper work about an impending engagement before the affected date. When you miss a class, it will be your responsibility to contact a classmate and find out what you missed. You may contact me only if you need further assistance on the notes you received from your peer.

Grading: I am more interested in your learning process than in "giving" grades. I take time to read and comment on your paper. My comments not only address the content of your essay but issues of style and grammar. Do note that the grade you receive is my evaluation of all the components of good writing vis-à-vis your work. While you may feel a need to petition a received grade with me, please take time to read my comments and be sure you have understood them. Below is a description of the grades; they are formulated in the spirit of university guidelines.

Grade A will be assigned to exceptional work: work that demonstrates depth and originality of thought, that formulates a clear and persuasive thesis and is carefully organized and crafted, and that is stylistically sophisticated, even eloquent. The paper is complete, all aspects of question correctly answered, and argument supported with relevant and solid textual examples. The A paper is remarkable for the insight it offers the reader on the subject.

For a B grade, the work formulates and develops a clear and sufficient thesis, the paper is less than complete, some aspects of the question are not answered, textual support is ineffectively deployed, and structurally weak. Papers in this category display occasional paragraphs of insight but are prone to wander in focus.

The C paper is average. The work suggests a thesis but it is not clear how this thesis is developed. There are glaring problems in organization, language, ideas, and there is a preponderance of plot summary. Though the summary might suggest a familiarity with the text, it equally reveals a mediocre understanding of literary texts and their interpretation.

For a D paper, there is no discernible focus, the "argument" presented demonstrates a limited understanding of the material being discussed, and there is little or no supporting evidence. It suffers from structural and grammatical errors of immensely distracting proportions.



1. Every university regulation concerning fair and appropriate usage of sources in academic writing is in force in this class. I will not hesitate to enforce all rules concerning academic integrity should the situation arise. Where a case of plagiarism is established, you will receive a Fail in the assignment and will lose 50% of your midterm or final exam grade, depending on the time the infraction occurs. I will also report you to the appropriate school administrator.

2. A deadline extension request for a paper must be made at least 36 hours before the due date. I am not obligated to grant it, though. A paper late without approved extension will lose half grade point for each day that it’s late. I will not accept any paper that is more than one week late from its due date.

3. House Style: In all writing situations, with the exception of in-class writing, the only acceptable style is the MLA. Refer to Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference or the current MLA Style Manual and make sure you adhere to all aspects of documentation that apply to you. Fulfilling this requirement is part of your assessment; the burden of meeting this requirement is entirely on you.

4. Every student should take it as his or her responsibility to foster a mature, amiable and comfortable classroom environment. I shall endeavor to create a space where every student’s opinion is freely expressed and thoughtfully considered. You should see the classroom as a safe space to interrogate my opinions, your peers’, and yours without fear of censure.

5. Eating in class is a distraction and I consider it rude and inappropriate. Please have your meal before or after the class. Also, if you have a mobile phone, do be civil enough to switch it off while in class.



Class Schedule

W 1/18 Introductions + Syllabus

M 1/23 Lecture: Understanding African Literature in the US Classroom

W 1/25 Essay: "Modern African Literature and Cultural Identity" by Tanure Ojaide

M 1/30 Drama: The Lion and the Jewel

W 2/1 Lion and the Jewel (Response essay due)

M 2/6 Lion and the Jewel

W 2/8 Movie Event

M 2/13 Valley Song

W 2/15 Valley Song

M 2/20 Valley Song + Essay: "On National Culture" Frantz Fanon

W 2/22 WAIL Summit + Midterm Review

M 2/27 Mid-Term Exam

W 3/1 Fiction: Efuru

M 3/6 Semester Recess

M 3/13 Efuru

W 3/15 Efuru

M 3/20 Efuru

W 3/22 Selected Poems + A Grain of Wheat

M 3/27 Grain of Wheat

W 3/29 Grain of Wheat

M 4/3 Grain of Wheat

W 4/5 Purple Hibiscus

M 4/10 Purple Hibiscus

W 4/12 Purple Hibiscus (Critical essay due)

M 4/17 Easter Recess

W 4/19 Purple Violet of Oshaantu

M 4/24 Oshaantu

W 4/26 Oshaantu (Last day to submit movie review)

M 5/1 Selected Poems

W 5/3 Course Review (Exam on Thurs. 5/11 at 10:45 am-1:15 pm)