Modern African Writing

Ref: C3744304

This five week course gives a brief introduction to contemporary writing from and about Africa. Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, one of the first to receive global critical acclaim. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun examines the effects of the Biafran War of the 1960s. The third week of this course will look at a selection of poems from young writers from across Africa in the early 21st century and we will follow this with novels by two Zimbabwean writers: Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, which focuses on the story of a Shona family in post-colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s, and We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, telling of the life of a young girl, first as a 10-year-old in Zimbabwe, and later as a teenager in the Midwest United States. Through these texts we will explore themes such as gender, colonialism, war, politics and identity post-colonial Africa.

Course aim

A five week course offering a brief introduction to contemporary writing from and about Africa.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Respond to Literary texts in a critical way and share my responses with fellow students.
  • Understand some of the socio-historical contexts of the texts covered.
  • Engage with the history of Nigeria and Zimbabwe in the 20th century.
  • Identify and engage with some of the key preoccupations for African writers in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

How will I be taught?

  • You will be required to read the core texts before each class and encouraged to carry out independent background research.

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 have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to bring the core texts to each class - some of these may be available from the library.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Week 1: Chinua Achebe (Nigeria), Things Fall Apart (1958) Week 2: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) Week 3: Selected Poems (handout) Week 4: Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe), Nervous Conditions (1988) Week 5: NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), We Need New Names (2013)

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
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Modern African Writing

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This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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