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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:African literature, African literatures: cultural practice or art practice?
Author:Chapman, MichaelISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Africa
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v034/34.1chapman.pdf
Abstract:The title of this paper is provoked by two tendencies in the discussion of literature from Africa. First, a certain hesitancy over the last decade in using the bold, singular term of the decolonization years: African Literature, the implication being a pan-African concept. Second, a tendency to subsume the literary work under cultural, political, or historical practice. Questions of value or quality simply vanish, there being no reason why, say, Achebe's novels are a better index to, or symptom of, the cultural aporias of colonialism or postcolonialism than any number of bestsellers or, for that matter, civil service, medical, or prison reports of the period. There are good reasons why the plural form African Literatures should be preferred. There are good reasons, too, why the literary text should be regarded primarily as a social document. The author suggests that, in Africa, the close correlation between the texts of politics and the texts of art poses challenging questions as to what constitutes a literary culture, what might be regarded as the practice of art. Both categories have value. The art dimension is necessary. To polarize politics and art, for example, does a disservice to both African Literature and African Literatures. The plural form helps chart the range and the variety; the singular form helps lend coherence to the field of study. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]