The Contemporary African Novel

Course Dates: 07/06/21 - 12/07/21
Time: 19:45 - 21:30
Location: Online
This course examines a selection of African novels from the late 20th to the early 21st century and some of the concepts, issues and ideas that inform them. In works from Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, we will explore how gender, sexuality, class, and race are portrayed in the contemporary context and how these depictions are influenced by past understandings from these respective countries. Authors include Buchi Emecheta, J.M. Coetzee and Yaa Gyasi.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £99.00 Senior fee £99.00 Concession £60.00

Course Code: HLT229

Mon, eve, 07 Jun - 12 Jul '21

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course will address the mediation between past understandings and present expectations of gender, sexuality, class, and race in the societies portrayed in these novels. We will explore the influence of colonial oppression and cultural expectations on the characters and how they negotiate them against the social, political, and economic realities they encounter in these works. The course, for example, will address the complicated relationship between tribal beliefs and individual agency, the enduring legacy of colonialism in post-colonial societies, and several other areas that contribute to the complex and diverse representations that are found in contemporary African literature.

Tutor biography:
Roger Blanton has a PhD in English from Queen Mary, University of London. He has taught in the US, Argentina, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and the UK.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

This course will focus on contemporary African novels and explore their portrayals of colonialism, class, sexuality, gender, tradition and race and the concerns about their negotiation in constantly changing environments. The novels included in the course are The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, JM Coetzee’s Disgrace, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

In Emecheta’s work, the focus will be on the influence of patriarchy and the expectation of traditional gender roles in Nigeria.

In Coetzee’s novel, race, sexuality and power dynamics are explored, along with how the apartheid past is negotiated in the post-apartheid present in this South African work.

In Homegoing, the effects of colonialism, slavery and post-colonial life on multiple generations of two families will be explored and how they are affected by race, gender and capitalism across history.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Talk about concepts, issues and ideas addressed in the Contemporary African novel.
• Analyse these areas from a historical, political, social and economic perspective.
• Apply this knowledge to other non-Western literatures and societies.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No particular skills are needed besides an interest and a willingness to engage in reading, analysing and discussing literature.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be taught through mini-lecture, Q&A, large and small group discussion. Please read in advance for the week's session.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to obtain copies of:
The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (Heinemann African Writers Series: Classics, 2008)
Disgrace by JM Coetzee (Penguin Books-Essential Editions, 2005).
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Penguin Books, 2017)
Any additional readings will be provided by the course tutor.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other world literature courses on our website at, culture & writing/literature/fiction.

Roger Blanton

Roger Blanton has a PhD in English from Queen Mary, University of London. He has taught in the US, Argentina, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and the UK.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.