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Literature > African Literature

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Redrawing French Empire Comics Cover

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Redrawing French Empire Comics

Redrawing French Empire in Comics by Mark McKinney investigates how comics have represented the colonization and liberation of Algeria and Indochina. It focuses on the conquest and colonization of Algeria (from 1830), the French war in Indochina (1946–1954), and the Algerian War (1954–1962). Imperialism and colonialism already featured prominently in nineteenth-century French-language comics and cartoons by Töpffer, Cham, and Petit. As society has evolved, so has the popular representation of those historical forces. French torture of Algerians during the Algerian War, once taboo, now features prominently in comics, especially since 2000, when debate on the subject was reignited in the media and the courts. The increasingly explicit and spectacular treatment in comics of the more violent and lurid aspects of colonial history and ideology is partly due to the post-1968 growth of an adult comics production and market. For example, the appearance of erotic and exotic, feminized images of Indochina in French comics in the 1980s indicated that colonial nostalgia for French Indochina had become fashionable in popular culture. Redrawing French Empire in Comics shows how contemporary cartoonists such as Alagbé, Baloup, Boudjellal, Ferrandez, and Sfar have staked out different, sometimes conflicting, positions on French colonial history.

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Research in African Literatures

Vol. 30 (1999) through current issue

Research in African Literatures, the premier journal of African literary studies worldwide, serves as a stimulating vehicle in English for research on the oral and written literatures of Africa. Reviews of current scholarly books are included in every number, and a forum offers readers the opportunity to respond to issues raised in articles and book reviews

The Sacred Door and Other Stories Cover

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The Sacred Door and Other Stories

Cameroon Folktales of the Beba

Makuchi

The Sacred Door and Other Stories: Cameroon Folktales of the Beba offers readers a selection of folktales infused with riddles, proverbs, songs, myths, and legends, using various narrative techniques that capture the vibrancy of Beba oral traditions. Makuchi retells the stories that she heard at home when she was growing up in her native
Cameroon.
The collection of thirty-three folktales of the Beba showcases a wide variety of stories that capture the richness and complexities of an agrarian society’s oral literature and traditions. Revenge, greed, and deception are among the themes that frame the story lines in both new and familiar ways. In the title story, a poor man finds himself elevated to king. The condition for his continued success is that he not open the sacred door. This tale of temptation, similar to the story of Pandora’s box, concludes with the question, “What would you have done?”
Makuchi relates the stories her mother told her so that readers can make connections
between African and North American oral narrative traditions. These tales reinforce the commonalities of our human experiences without discounting our differences.



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Shaken Wisdom

Irony and Meaning in Postcolonial African Fiction

Gloria Nne Onyeoziri

In her focus on irony and meaning in postcolonial African fiction, Gloria Nne Onyeoziri refers to an internal subversion of the discourse of the wise and the powerful, a practice that has played multiple roles in the circulation of knowledge, authority, and opinion within African communities; in the interpretation of colonial and postcolonial experience; and in the ongoing resistance to tyrannies in African societies. But irony is always reversible and may be used to question the oppressed as well as the oppressor, shaking all presumptions of wisdom. Although the author cites numerous African writers, she selects six works by Chinua Achebe, Ahmadou Kourouma, and Calixthe Beyala for her primary analysis.

Modern Language Initiative

Sounding Off Cover

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Sounding Off

Rhythm, Music, and Identity in West African and Caribbean Francophone Novels

Julie Huntington

Intrigued by "texted" sonorities—the rhythms, musics, ordinary noises, and sounds of language in narratives—Julie Huntington examines the soundscapes in contemporary Francophone novels such as Ousmane Sembene's God's Bits of Wood (Senegal), and Patrick Chamoiseau's Solibo Magnificent (Martinique). Through an ethnomusicological perspective, Huntington argues in Sounding Off that the range of sounds —footsteps, heartbeats, drumbeats—represented in West African and Caribbean works provides a rhythmic polyphony that creates spaces for configuring social and cultural identities.

Huntington’s analysis shows how these writers and others challenge the aesthetic and political conventions that privilege written texts over orality and invite readers-listeners to participate in critical dialogues—to sound off, as it were, in local and global communities.

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Transnational Discourses on Class, Gender, and Cultural Identity

by Irene Marques

This exploration of class, feminism, and cultural identity (including issues of race, nation, colonialism, and economic imperialism) focuses on the work of four writers: the Mozambican Mia Couto, the Portuguese José Saramago, the Brazilian Clarice Lispector and the South African J. M. Coetzee. In the first section, the author discusses the political aspects of Couto’s collection of short stories Contos do nascer da terra (Stories of the Birth of the Land) and Saramago’s novel O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis). The second section explores similar themes in Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K and Lispector’s A hora da estrela (The Hour of the Star). Marques argues that these four writers are political in the sense that they bring to the forefront issues pertaining to the power of literature to represent, misrepresent, and debate matter related to different subaltern subjects: the postcolonial subject, the poor subject (the "poor other"), and the female subject. She also discusses the "ahuman other" in the context of the subjectivity of the natural world, the dead, and the unborn, and shows how these aspects are present in all the different societies addressed and point to the mystical dimension that permeates most societies. With regard to Couto's work, this "ahuman other" is approached mostly through a discussion of the holistic, animist values and epistemologies that inform and guide Mozambican traditional societies, while in further analyses the notion is approached via discussions on phenomenology, elementality, and divinity following the philosophies of Lévinas and Irigaray and mystical consciousness in Zen Buddhism and the psychology of Jung.

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Trickster and Hero

Two Characters in the Oral and Written Traditions of the World

Harold Scheub

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The Uncoiling Python

South African Storytellers and Resistance

Harold Scheub

The oral and written traditions of the Africans of South Africa have provided an understanding of their past and the way the past relates to the present. These traditions continue to shape the past by the present, and vice versa. From the time colonial forces first came to the region in 1487, oral and written traditions have been a bulwark against what became 350 years of colonial rule, characterized by the racist policies of apartheid. The Uncoiling Python: South African Storytellers and Resistance is the first in-depth study of how Africans used oral traditions as a means of survival against European domination.

Africans resisted colonial rule from the beginning. They participated in open insurrections and other subversive activities in order to withstand the daily humiliations of colonial rule. Perhaps the most effective and least apparent expression of subversion was through indigenous storytelling and poetic traditions. Harold Scheub has collected the stories and poetry of the Xhosa, Zulu, Swati, and Ndebele peoples to present a fascinating analysis of how the apparently harmless tellers of tales and creators of poetry acted as front-line soldiers.

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Under the Sky of My Africa

Alexander Pushkin and Blackness

Edited by Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, and Ludmilla A. Trigos. Foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The first single volume in English on this rich topic, Under the Sky of My Africa addresses the wide variety of interests implicated in the question of Pushkin's blackness. In essays that are by turns biographical, iconographical, cultural, and sociological in focus, the authors representing a broad range of disciplines and perspectives take us from the complex attitudes toward race in Russia during Pushkin's era to the surge of racism in late Soviet and post Soviet contemporary Russia. Under the Sky of My Africa provides a wealth of basic material on the subject as well as a series of provocative readings and interpretations that will influence future considerations of Pushkin and race in Russian culture.

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Violence in Francophone African and Caribbean Women's Literature

Marie-Chantal Kalisa

African and Caribbean peoples share a history dominated by the violent disruptions of slavery and colonialism. While much has been said about these “geographies of pain,” violence in the private sphere, particularly gendered violence, receives little attention. This book fills that void. It is a critical addition to the study of African and Caribbean women’s literatures at a time when women from these regions are actively engaged in articulating the ways in which colonial and postcolonial violence impact women.
 
Chantal Kalisa examines the ways in which women writers lift taboos imposed on them by their society and culture and challenge readers with their unique perspectives on violence. Comparing women from different places and times, Kalisa treats types of violence such as colonial, familial, linguistic, and war-related, specifically linked to dictatorship and genocide. She examines Caribbean writers Michele Lacrosil, Simone Schwartz-Bart, Gisèle Pineau, and Edwidge Danticat, and Africans Ken Begul, Calixthe Beyala, Nadine Bar, and Monique Ilboudo. She also includes Sembène Ousmane and Frantz Fanon for their unique contributions to the questions of violence and gender. This study advances our understanding of the attempts of African and Caribbean women writers to resolve the tension between external forms of violence and internal forms resulting from skewed cultural, social, and political rules based on gender.

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