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Things Fall Apart as Part of a Holistic Curriculum

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  1. Things Fall Apartas Part of a Holistic Curriculum Eve Judith Eisenberg, IU-Bloomington, English

  2. Overview • Things Fall Apart • Context and Plot summary • Major themes/points of interest for students • Pitfalls of teaching TFA • Stereotypes • The novel as “ethnographic evidence” • Suggestions for a holistic curriculum • Companion texts • Teaching tools

  3. A Tragic Hero, Fatally Flawed

  4. Major Themes • Cultural imperialism, Clash of cultures – Students’ local culture • Tragic hero/fatal flaw – tragic heroes • Communal justice & judgment – trying Okonkwo • Spiritual connectedness – comparative religion • Dominance struggles—fathers & sons • Telling history – relate an event from multiple perspectives • Proverbs, customs & beliefs – examination of local sayings and what (and how) they mean

  5. The “father of modern African literature?” Thompson, Bob. “Things Fall Into Place; Chinua Achebe Remembers How He Came to Be the Father of Modern African Literature.” The Washington Post. Mar. 9, 2008: M01.

  6. Pitfalls • Reinforce stereotypes • Africa as “backward” • As completely rural/wild • As racially/ethnically monochromatic • As lacking “real culture” • African men as “abusers,” women & children as “victims” • Ethnographic evidence vs. Literary artwork • Missing the irony

  7. Suggested Solutions • Multiple text approach • Paired with Heart of Darkness & with Achebe’s essay “An Image of Africa.” • Contextualization approach

  8. Multiple Texts ChimamandaAdichie, author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and The Thing Around Your Neck http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

  9. Multiple Texts • Exploring African Life and Literature: Novel Guides to Promote Socially Responsive Learning - Jacqueline N. Glasgow, Linda J. Rice, editors. • Tends to regard African lit as ethnographic/historic evidence • Wide range of novels from the continent • Good introductory info on author, text & context

  10. Multiple Texts • BuchiEmecheta’sThe Wrestling Match (1983) grades 7-9 (Nigeria) • Bessie Head’s Maru(1971) grades 8-11 (S. Africa/Botswana) • Nadine Gordimer’sJuly’s People (1981) grades 11-12 (S. Africa) • ChimamandaAdichie’sPurple Hibiscus (2003) and selected short stories from The Thing Around Your Neck (2010) grades 9-12 (Nigeria) • Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come (2007) and selected short stories from News From Home (2010)grades 11-12 (Nigeria) • ZakesMda’sWays of Dying (1995) grades 10-12 (S. Africa) • Yvonne Vera’s Nehanda(1993) grades 7-9 (Zimbabwe)