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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Struggling with the African bildungsroman
Author:Austen, Ralph A.ISNI
Year:2015
Periodical:Research in African Literatures (ISSN 0034-5210)
Volume:46
Issue:3
Pages:214-231
Language:English
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:literature
individualization
self-concept
literary criticism
Link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v046/46.3.austen.pdf
Abstract:Since the 1980s, the term 'bildungsroman' (novel of 'formation', 'cultivation', or 'development') has come into wide use among critics of African and other postcolonial literature, usually in very critical terms. The genre, in its classical European forms, sets down a model of individualist development and ultimate sociopolitical integration that is inimical to both the collectivist values of Africans and their understanding of both themselves and their position within the modern order of nation states and global capitalism. However, such critiques misrepresent both the role and trajectory of the European bildungsroman and the nuances of self-representation within its African versions. The African bildungsroman is not, any more than its European predecessors, an ideological instrument either for or against a specific form of modernity but rather a reflection on the possibilities of self-formation-through inherited culture, formal education, and more autonomous 'Bildung'-within a specific set of historical contexts. Bibliogr., notes, ref, sum. [Journal abstract]
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