African Modernities: Colonialism and Postcolonialism in the Novel ENGLIT5001

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

Colonialism informs Western literature in ways that are not always acknowledged. Modernism is recognised as a global literary phenomenon. Its earliest practitioners were worldly writers acutely aware of the impact of Empire on the history of cultures and languages. Yet courses still tend to focus on a familiar canon of British, American and European authors. Modernity is a more loaded term, bound up in a colonial context with problematic discourses of civility, development, and improvement. This special topic will take the pluralisation of modernities and the global nature of modernism seriously by stepping beyond a traditional Euro-American framework in order to pursue the idea of the modern in African literature from the 1950s to the present day through one particular literary form, the novel. The African novel is more than a derivative form writing back to the West. It deserves to be read in its own right, as form through which specific struggles around independence and national identity are played out.


10 x 2 hour seminars

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





One essay of 4,000 words (80%);

Two presentations of 10 minutes each (20%).

Course Aims

This course aims to enable students to:


■ Discuss critically the significance of the African novel as a literary form.

■ Familiarise themselves with the key writers and critics in the field.

■ Reflect on the ways in which African writing can provide valuable insights into more familiar literary canons.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Analyse the significance of the African novel for thinking about modernity and postmodernity, and colonialism and postcolonialism.

■ Articulate an understanding of the historical, cultural and formal specificity of the African novel.

■ Critically engage with research in African literature.

■ Apply knowledge of African literature to wider work in twentieth-century literature and culture.

■ Frame arguments effectively in speech and in writing at an advanced level.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.