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African Literature: Novels, Conflict and Dialogue


This course can be given in English on demand.


This course examines major works of African literatures and their views of and approaches to African societies. Dialogue and conflict among social groups in Africa as well as in the African diaspora are discussed. We discuss social issues, such as poverty, gender and ethnicity, but also existential questions about life and death, sufferance and joy, and about what is considered as being beautiful or ugly. Such a discussion derives from the different perspectives emerging from the analyzed texts and is set in the novels’ literary and historical context.


Students are expected to acquire
1. knowledge of historical periodization and literary characteristics of African literatures
2. knowledge and criticism of the dichotomy of modernity / tradition and civilized / uncivilized, which is important in the context of African studies
3. basic skills that enable students to analyze literary texts
4. presentation and writing skills



Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total: 140 hrs (5 EC)
Class attendance: 2 hrs p.w. x 13 weeks = 26 hrs.
Take home-exams: 4 hrs.
Papers: 84 hrs.
Literature en homework: 26 hrs.

Assessment method


  • Take-home exam 20%

  • Final paper 60%

  • Report 10%

  • Oral presentation 10%


In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify you of changes to the course and make course materials available.


The aim of this advanced translation course is to familiarize you with the challenges that a translator faces in practice. Practice makes perfect, which is why the emphasis lies on discussing the translations that you have prepared at home and on doing translations that a professional translator may be expected to do, the texts covering a wide range of topics and registers. However, we will also make a link to translation theory and ask ourselves to what extent theory helps us solve practical problems.

Course objectives

  • Ability to translate a linguistically sophisticated, but non-specialist Dutch text into grammatically correct and stylistically appropriate English, and vice versa.

  • Understanding of the relationship between translation studies and the practice of translation and the ability to apply translation theory to practical problems.

Mode of instruction

One 90-minute tutorial per week and small-group peer-review tutorials.

Course Load

The total course load is 280 hours (10 EC), allocated as follows:

  • Tutorial attendance: 26 hours.

  • Study of literature: 26 hours.

  • Preparation of translations, annotated translations and peer reviews, and test preparation 125 hours.

  • Translation test: 3 hours.

Assessment method

  • Peer-review of an annotated translation and contributions to discussion in tutorial (20%).

  • Average mark of two of the translations handed in during the course (30%).

  • Translation test (D-E; E-D) 40%.

To pass the course, you need to have handed in electronic copies of all the translations in Blackboard before each tutorial. Marks will be subtracted for failure to hand in assignments.
You can resit the translation test and resubmit course translations if these are a fail. If you fail the peer-review and tutorial-discussion component you will be asked to write and defend an extra annotated translation.


In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify you of changes to the course and make course materials available.

Reading list

Recommended reference tools:

  • Lemmens, M. & Parr, T. (2013). Handboek voor de Vertaler Nederlands-Engels (Praktische tips). Amsterdam: Intertaal.

  • Renkema, J. (2012). Schrijfwijzer. Amsterdam: Boom.

  • Swan, M. (2005). Practical English usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Van Dale groot woordenboek Engels (set) (2014). Utrecht: Van DaleLexicography.

  • Van Dale groot woordenboek van de Nederlandse taal (2015). Utrecht: Van Dale Lexicography.

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h3. Reading list


Articles and books in the program are to be read before the lecture. Example :

  • Bouazza , H. “ The Prodigal Son “ , feet Abdullah , 1996: 119-132 and Ball , M., “ Actors “ and “ Filling In the Outline” , Narratology , Toronto Press , Toronto / Buffalo / London 1985 pp.23 – 31 , 86-89 .

  • Bal, M. Narratology, 1985, Chapter 3 and Merolla, D., Deceitful Origins and Dogget Roots: Dutch Literary Space and Moroccan Immigration, n D.Bryceson and U.Vuorela (Eds.), Forging New European frontiers: Transnational Families and Their Global Networks, Berg, Oxford/New York, 2002: 103-123.

  • Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart, 1958, (at least chapts 1-7, 13, and 20-25) and Snyder, C., The Possibilites and Pitfall of Ethnographic Readings (etc), College Literature 35.2, 2008, 154-174.

  • Mouloud Feraoun, The Poor Man’s Son: Menrad, Kabyle Schoolteacher, University of Virginia Press, USA, 2005 (trans. From French 1950).

  • Mariama Ba: So long a letter, Transl., Heinemann, Oxford, 1981; and Stratton, F. African literature and the politics of gender, Routledge, London, 1994 : Chapt. 6.

  • Tsitsi Dangaremba: Nervous Conditions, Ayeba, UK, 1988; reading: C.Okwonkwo, Space Matters: form and narrative in Tsitsi Dangaremba’s Nervous Conditions, Research in African Literatures, vol. 34, no. 2, 2003: 53-74

  • Ben Okri: The famished road , Jonathan Cape, London: 1991; Hawley, John C., ‘Ben Okri’s Spirit Child: Abiku Migration and Post-modernity’, Research in African Literatures 26.1 (Spring 1995), pp. 30-39.

  • Alaa Al Aswany: The Yacoubin Building, The American Univ. in Cairo P., Cairo, New York, 2004. Zie book reviews on Blackboard

  • Phaswane Mpe, Welcome to our Hillbrow, Ohio University Press, Athens, USA, 2011 with Introduction by G. Negash.


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Dr. D. Merolla