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Chinua Achebe: Father of African Literature 1930 - 2013Lecture 1 http://viennachinuaachebe.wordpress.com/ Derek Barker www.derekbarker.info Dr.Derek.Barker@gmail.com
Course Description I The course will discuss and assess the contribution of Chinua Achebe to African and World literature. Close readings of his five novels (mandatory reading): • Things Fall Apart (1958), • No Longer at Ease (1960), • Arrow of God (1964), • A Man of the People (1966), • Anthills of the Savannah (1987),
Course Description II Reference will be made to Achebe’s non-fiction works, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of his life and thought. Critical and academic reception of the so-called “Father of African literature” will be examined against the backdrop of Nigerian history and developments in literary-critical approaches over the last 60 years.
Course Description III Among others, the following questions that will be addressed in the course: given his undisputed status as the father of African literature and the renown of Things Fall Apart, how do we account for the fact that Chinua Achebe was never awarded the Nobel prize for literature?
Course Description IV Why in Africa is the relationship between prose and politics so intense and what characterizes this relationship? What are the chief developments in critical appraisal and reception of Achebe’s works over the past 60 years? What are the chief developments in the thought and work of Achebe over his lifetime?
Goals • To gain an in depth understanding of the life and work of Chinua Achebe and his contribution to African and World literature • To understand the historical context of Achebe’s works in Nigeria, Africa and on the World stage • To obtain an in-depth understanding of the critical reception of Achebe’s works
Lecture and Exam Dates • Lecture 1: Introduction (October 11, 2013): Overview of the course, requirements for exam, required reading, introductory overview of Achebe’s novels and criticism • Lecture 2: Things Fall Apart I (October 18, 2013) • Lecture 3: Things Fall Apart II Cinema (October 25, 2013) • Lecture 4: No Longer At Ease I (November 8, 2013) • Lecture 5: No Longer At Ease II (November 15, 2013) • Lecture 6: Arrow of God I (November 22, 2013)
Lecture and Exam Dates • Lecture 7: Arrow of God II (November 29, 2013) • Lecture 8: A Man of the People I (December 6, 2013) • Lecture 9: A Man of the People II (December 13, 2013) • Lecture 10: Anthills of the Savannah I (January 10, 2013) • Lecture 11: Anthills of the Savannah II (January 17, 2014) • Lecture 12: Exam (24 January 2014): Written Exam
Chinua Achebe • Chinua Achebe (/ˈtʃɪnwɑː əˈtʃɛbɛ/),born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe • 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013 • Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation.
Fiction I • Achebe writes in his essay „The Truth of Fiction“: • The great virtue of literary fiction is that it is able, by engaging our imaginations, to lead us to discovery and recognitions by an unexpected and instructive route. It helps us locate again the line between the heroic and the cowardly when it seems most shadowy and elusive, and it does this by forcing us to encounter the heroic and cowardly in our own psyche. • ? Agree ?
Fiction II • How often do we hear people say: "Oh I don't have the time to read novels," implying that fiction is frivolous? They would generally add - lest you consider them illiterate - that they read histories or biographies, which they presume to be more appropriate to serious-minded adults. Such people are to be pitied; they are like a six-cylinder car which says: Oh, I can manage all right on three sparking-plugs, thank you very much. Well it can manage somehow but it will sound like an asthmatic motorcycle! • Agree?
Fiction III • The life of the imagination is a vital element of our total nature. If we starve it or pollute it the quality of our life is depressed or soiled. • Agree ? • Why do you (if you do!) read?
Fiction IV • We must not, however, celebrate the beauties of imagination and the beneficent fictions that are spun in its golden looms without mentioning the terrible danger to which it can be exposed.
Fiction V • Belief in superior and inferior races; belief that some people who live across our frontiers or speak a different language from ourselves are the cause of all the trouble in the world, or that our own particular group or class or caste has a right to certain things which are denied to others; the belief that men are superior to women, and so on - all are fictions generated by the imagination. What then makes them different from the beneficent fictions for which I am making rather large claims?
Fiction VI • What distinguishes beneficent fiction from such malignant cousins as racism is that the first never forgets that it is fiction and the other never knows that it is.