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Introduction to African Literature & Arts


Admission requirements

Compulsory for BA African Studies. Those from other BA programs may be admitted with prior registration (please contact the course coordinator). MA Literary Studies: Pre-master Literature in Society.


This course follows literary trajectories across the continent spanning from across literary genres (such as poetry, novels and short stories) and close reading activities. Possibly, the course will also actively engage in conversation with contemporary African authors working and living in the Netherlands in order to offer insights on the contemporary Afro-diasporic identity politics and to understand how Afropolitanism is relevant for both the diaspora and for Africa. Among required novels, a preference towards works originally composed in African languages will be privilieged ( i.e. The Perfect Nine or Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong’o ; Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀, Forest of a Thousand Daemons, by Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa, Doomi Galo by Boubakar Diop). The section on art will be focused on paintings that bear witness to local involvement in the history of slavery and on the relation between African cinema and negritude.

Course objectives

  • Comprehend the key genres and debates on African-language literatures;

  • Engage with the African diaspora through active participation with living authors;

  • Analyse poetry novels, short stories; films and paintings;

  • Draw comparisons between works and films through intertextual critical techniques;

  • Design and write a book review.


The timetables are available through [My Timetable] (

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Excursion with authors

Assessment method


  • Midterm take-home exam

  • Oral presentation

  • Final Exam


  • Midterm take-home exam 20%

  • Oral presentation 10%

  • Final exam 70 %


There is one opportunity for a re-sit of the entire course (100%).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The following reading list is indicative. Please consult the syllabus for more detailed information.

Handbooks on African literature:

  • Barber, K. & Furniss, G. (1997). “African-Language Writing.”

  • Eillen, J. (1992). African novels and the questions of orality.

  • Ricard, A. (2004). The Languages and Literatures of Africa.

  • Schipper, M. , Merolla, D.; Brinkman, I. (2019). Afrikaanse letterkunde : tradities, genres, auteurs en ontwikkelingen, author.

  • wa Thiong’o, N. (1981).Decolonising the Mind.

Novels and Poetry:

  • Abdalla, A. Sauti ya dhiki (The Voice of Agony).

  • Achebe, Chinua. Arrow of God. // Things Fall Apart.

  • Adichie, Ngozi A. Americanah. // Half of a Yellow Sun // Purple Hybiscus.

  • Antjie Koog Plundering

  • Binyawanga, Wainaina. One day I will write about this place.

  • Camara LayeThe Radiance of the king

  • Diop, B. Murambi. Le livre des ossessments. // Doomi Golo. Hidden notebooks

  • Djebar, A. Women of Algiers in their apartment.

  • Evaristo, Bernarndine. Girl, Woman, other.

  • Fagunwa, D. O. Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀ (Forest of a Thousand Daemons).

  • Faraax, M. J. Cawl Aqoondarro waa u Nacab Jacayl (Ignorance is the Enemy of Love).

  • Farah, N. Links. // Close Sesame // From a crooked rib // Maps etc..

  • Faye, Gaël. Le petit Pays.

  • Gurnah, Abdulrazak. Afterlives. // By The Sea // Gravel Heart // Paradise.

  • Mahmoud Mau, In This Fragile World

  • Makumbi, Jennifer. The First Woman. // Kintu // A Girl Is a Body of Water

  • Mohamed Mbougar Sarr,La plus secrète mémoire des hommes

  • Owuor, A. Yvonne. The Dragonfly Sea.

  • Tadjo, V. L’Ombre d’Imana.

  • Thiong’o, N. wa Matigari, The Perfect Nine

  • Soyinka, W. AShuttle in the crypt.

  • Thiong’o, N. The Perfect Nine.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration [Studeren à la carte] (


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats


The meetings with African authors will be organized in the framework of the African writers’talks series, organized in cooperation with AfroBieb, Amsterdam.