Africa: Muse and Mother

Ref: C2224287

In this course we will explore literature emerging from Africa, and written primarily in English. We will also, to a lesser extent, look at literature written about Africa. Our goal is to analyse these works in the light of contextual factors, and to draw from them perspectives on the continent. We will discuss Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness alongside works by Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Mariama Bâ, and J. M. Coetzee. Although the aforementioned texts will form the core of the course, there will be opportunity in our discussions for references to a wide range of other literature coming out of Africa and literature relating to Africa. Our reading will facilitate discussions on a variety of themes, including colonialism, traditional societies, cultural differences, and gender issues. This is an introductory course and because the scope is broad it will not be a detailed study, but rather an overview of the topics relevant to the continent and of some of its major authors.

Course aim

This beautiful and fascinating continent has inspired a diverse array of writing. We will explore a selection of these works, by authors including Joseph Conrad and Mariama Bâ.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for anyone interested in literature, and who is comfortable reading and communicating in English. You do not need specific study skills or prior knowledge, just a willingness to discuss your opinion and consider alternative views.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Analyse some major works of literature emerging from Africa or written about Africa.
  • Describe some of the contextual factors relevant to African writing.
  • Identify and discuss some of the themes pertaining to literature emerging from Africa or written about Africa.
  • Formulate and argue considered opinions, and listen to and take into account alternative viewpoints.
  • Apply the interpretive skills developed in the course to other literary subjects and works.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • There will be a number of tasks, such as written work or presentations, which will be given feedback in a constructive environment.

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to bring a notebook and something to write with. If you have internet access at home (or at a library, etc.) this would be useful, but not essential. It would be useful to be a member of your local library.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • In order to derive maximum benefit from the course it is advised that participants read the following works: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, A Grain of Wheat Mariama Bâ, So Long a Letter J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • This course could be a springboard to further study in literature. A hand-out will be provided at the end of the course with a list of relevant texts and websites that will be useful for those who wish to continue to explore the subject.

Download full Course information sheet

Africa: Muse and Mother


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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