SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Contemporary African Literature (PG)

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

The module is meant to give students a good general introduction to Contemporary African Literature(s) and to demonstrate to them some of the ways in which creative writing in the form of prose narratives, the novel, poetry, drama, etc help create an understanding of the socio-cultural, economic and political issues that define life and existence on the African continent and its diaspora. The module is also meant to help encourage students develop critical and analytical skills that move away from dominant Eurocentric and Western perspectives and to present the teaching, researching, understanding and analysis of Africa from African-centred perspectives.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:  

  • LO1 demonstrate an understanding of different contents, forms and contexts of contemporary African literature  
  • LO2. evaluate how different historical and ideological contexts of contemporary realities in Africa are mediated, reflect and expressed through African literature 
  • LO3 understand Africa through specific forms of literary expression from the continent and the Diaspora  
  • LO4 understand African and Diaspora literary responses to slavery and colonialism 
  • LO5 gain awareness about African contemporary thought and forms of literary expression  
  • LO6 demonstrate experience with, and increased confidence in, developing their own analyses of selected works of African literature 
  • LO7 demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary African literature and use this for developing their own research questions and hypotheses 

Explain how the learning outcomes fit with the programme(s) for which the module will be available: 
The MA African Studies programme aims include 1. To provide broad-based postgraduate study of aspects of African society and culture and 2. To provide the student with the means to further develop their knowledge of specific aspects of African society and culture.

The module contributes to these programme aims by focussing on African literature and to provide students with the skills to use literature as an entry point for understanding of different African societies and cultures. 
The MA Comparative Literature (Africa/Asia) programme aims include 1. To obtain a thorough grounding in the theories and techniques of comparative literature 2. To learn about the literary traditions of the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East 3. To develop a critical approach to Asian and African literatures in which students question the tenets of Western-derived literary theories and their applicability to non-Western traditions 4. To train students to develop good research, analytical and interpretative skills. 

The module contributes to these programme aims by focussing on African literature and to provide students with the skills to use literature as an entry point for understanding of different African societies and cultures. 


The module is taught over 10 weeks with a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar each week.

Scope and syllabus

This module includes both African writing and work from the African Diaspora. The module aims to explore debates which have emerged around contemporary African literature and examines the establishment of an African literary tradition.  

Among the topics covered are:

  • Questions relating to an indigenous African aesthetic 
  • The interaction of written literature with oral art forms 
  • Nationalism and literature; gender and writing in the African context 
  • Race and colonialism  and the responses to colonial discourse in African writing

Method of assessment

  • 1 x 1,000-word critical review (40%)
  • 1 x 2,500-word essay (60%)

Suggested reading

Booker, Keith M. 1998. The African novel in English: An introduction. Portsmouth, NH,  Oxford: Heinemann, James Curry. 

Ibironke, Olabode. 2018. Remapping African literature. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.  

Krishnan, Madhu. 2018. Contingent Canons: African literature and the politics of location. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ojaide, Tanure and Joseph Obi. 2002. Culture, society, and politics in modern African literature: texts and contexts. Durham N.C.: Carolina Academic Press. 


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules