Part 1 (2 credits)
After an introduction to the historical, socio-political and anthropological aspects of nineteenth-century Britain, Part 1 will focus on the British Empire, with special attention for such phenomena as slavery and colonialism, especially in West Africa and Congo. This historical and cultural introduction will be followed by the analysis of a work by a late- Victorian novelists who practised adventure and travel fiction: Joseph Conrad. His best-known novel, "Heart of Darkness", will be analysed in relation to its cultural context, with special attention for its thematic and stylistic peculiarities, its literary genre and its reflection on ethnic issues. Besides dramatizing ideological tensions generated by colonialism, this novel is characterized by a specific early Modernist experimentation. Part 1 also includes a discussion of F. F Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now", a film freely adapted from Conrad’s novella, which will be shown and commented in class, with a theoretical reflection on the process of filmic adaptation/appropriation.
Part 2 (1 credit)
This part focuses on key postcolonial concepts that have significantly influenced Anglophone culture and literature in the last seventy years and examines their relevance to an analysis of the literary texts listed in this syllabus. The following concepts will be studied: alterity, ambivalence, anti-colonialism, black consciousness, catachresis, centre/margins, colonial desire, colonialism, comprador, contrapuntal reading, cultural diversity/difference, decolonization, double colonization, essentialism, Fanonism, feminism and post-colonialism, hybridity, imperialism, mimicry, neo-colonialism, Orientalism, othering, postcolonialism, race, slavery, universalism, worlding.
Part 3 (5 credits)
The third part will start with a historical introduction to the process of decolonization of the former British colonies in Africa and the development of an African literature in English. Basic notions of feminist and gender studies will be provided, followed by a short introduction to the reality of Zimbabwe and to Tsitsi Dangarembga, a Zimbabwean woman novelist. Classes will then focus on Dangarembga's novel "Nervous Conditions" (1988), exploring the novel's representation of gender inequalities, the role of education and the influence of colonialism upon the society of postcolonial Zimbabwe. Classes will later offer a detailed analysis of the social and economic problems, as well as the ongoing cultural transformations in postcolonial Nigeria, especially in the last few decades. Class activities will also encourage a reflection on African diaspora, on the recent development of artistic forms and the influence they exert on the cultural and literary reality of other countries, especially Britain. This introduction will be followed by the analysis of “Dangerous Love" (1996), a novel by Ben Okri pivoting around the formation of a young painter and the challenges met by young Nigerians in a society corrupted by their fathers. The analysis will cast light onto the fuction of art, here meant as a socio-political instrument, and the distinctive elements of the African novel in English.
Parte 4 (2 CFU).
The fourth part is devoted to cinema on and from Africa. Students will first watch and discuss the short film "1745" which offers and alternative and problematic representation of African slaves. The following stage will consist in the analysis the analysis and discussion of two recent Nigerian films that represent the Continent's new cinema, and especially the Nollywood phenomenon: "Meet the In-Laws" (2016), directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, a comedy that highlights relevant cultural aspects, gender relations and interethnic conflicts in the country, and "In My Country", directed by Frank Rajah Arase, which offers strong images of social disparities and criminality in contemporary Nigeria.