Skip to main content

Unit information: Introduction to Francophone African Literature in 2020/21

Unit name Introduction to Francophone African Literature
Unit code FREN20043
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Ruth Bush
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit will introduce students to major francophone African writers of the past eighty years. Students will study a selection of literary texts, from negritude poetry of the 1930s, to novels responding to decolonization and its aftermath, and the recent flourishing of what has been termed "Afropolitan" or "Afropean" writing in French.

Students will consider literary responses to the complex legacies of colonialism and the ongoing effects of globalization in sub-Saharan Africa. They will develop and question their ability to engage with diverse fictional representations of an often mis-represented continent. Areas of enquiry will include: the relationship between oral and written narratives, literature's role in political activism, the decolonization of the French language.

This unit carries a formative presentation.


  • To introduce students to a significant range of African writing through a selection of major themes and texts.
  • To facilitate students' engagement with representations of sub-Sahara Africa and develop their ability to question and challenge stereotypes through close textual analysis and contextual understanding.
  • To develop skills of critical thinking, close-reading and independent research.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will:

1. Be able demonstrate knowledge of the complex relationship between literary texts and political/historical contexts in sub-Saharan Africa.

2. Be able to use and think critically about key terms such as authenticity, colonization, decolonization, nation, postcolonial.

3. Be able to demonstrate a good understanding of different critical approaches to reading African literature and the theoretical debates surrounding these approaches.

4. Be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of primary and secondary source materials at a high level.

5. Be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at a high level of complexity.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

2 x 2000 Word Essays 50%/50% testing ILOs 1-5

Reading and References

  • Birago Diop, Les Contes d’Amadou Koumba (1947)
  • Ousmane Sembene, Les bouts de bois de dieu (1960)
  • Ahmadou Kourouma, Les soleils des indépendances (1968)
  • Mariama Ba, Une si longue lettre (1981)
  • Véronique Tadjo, Reine Pokou (2005)
  • Alain Mabanckou, Verre cassé (2005)