What if you survey African literature professors to find out which works and writers are most regularly taught? Literary scholars Bhakti Shringarpure and Lily Saint wanted to find out. They sent out a survey to their colleagues and found they mostly teach works by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and J.M. Coetzee. The majority of the writers that make the cut are from Nigeria and South Africa. Basically, only a few canonical ones continue to dominate curricula. First we asked them to summarize the findings for us, which they did in the article “African literature is a country.” Now we have invited them onto AIAC Talk to come and tell us more.
Bhakti Shringarpure is a writer, translator, and academic. She is the editor in chief and co-founder of Warscapes as well as the author of the book, Cold War Assemblages: Decolonization to Digital (Routledge, 2019). Lily Saint is Associate Professor of English at Wesleyan University. Her latest book on apartheid reading cultures was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2018.
Later in the program, they will be joined by Mukoma wa Ngugi, himself a novelist (author of six books) and associate professor at the newly renamed department of Literatures in English at Cornell University.
If you missed last week’s program, we asked what ideas influence the new right and how is it spreading around the world, including in Africa. Guests were Chelsea Stieber, a scholar of French and Francophone Studies, and political scientist Christopher McMichael, from South Africa, the latter who spoke specifically on the spread of right-wing ideas, conspiracy theories, and political movements especially in South Africa where there is a significant white minority. You can watch clips from that show on our YouTube channel, and the whole thing on our Patreon along with all the episodes from our archive.