English 17 (Semester I, 1997-1998) African Women Writers

Instructor: Touria Khannous The class meets 1:00-1:50 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Pembroke Hall B2. Ms. Khannous' office hours (Horace Mann B11) are: Mon 2.00-3.00 p.m. and by appointment.


English 17 is a course which focuses on special topics in literature. In this class we will explore African women writers and critics, looking at their theoretical priorities and cultural positions. Our discussions will focus on issues of exile, language, translation and colonialism, using as points of entry a diverse set of texts.

Teaching Method

Introductory lectures to relate the set texts to their context(s) and to place them within the perspective of their particular genres.
A Textual study of the set texts.

Required Texts


Attendance is mandatory. If you are going to miss class, please contact me prior to your absence. You are also responsible for other hand-outs and class materials presented in class, including announcements about class procedures. Paper topics usually include questions on materials presented and discussed only in class. For all these reasons, your regular attendance is imperative.

Schedule of classes

Week 1
Sept 3 (W) Introductory class
Sept 5 (F) Carole Boyce Davies, "Writing off Marginality, Minoring, And Effacement"

Week 2
Sept 8 (M) Nervous Conditions, pp.1-102
Sept 10 (W) Nervous Conditions, pp.103-end
Sept 12 (F) A clip from Ali Mazrui's speech on "Eurocentrism and Afrocentrism". Continue discussion of Nervous Conditions

Week 3
Sept 15 (M) Women of Algiers, pp.5-57. Clips from Djebar's film La Nouba des Femmes Au Mont Chenoua
Sept 17 (W) Women of Algiers, pp.61-129. Paper#1 (4-5) pages due.
Sept 19 (F) Prof.George Landow's presentation on Postcolonial and Postimperial Fiction Web

Week 4
Sept 22 (M) Clips from A Battle of Algiers. Women of Algiers, 133-end
Sept 24 (W) In-class writing. Continue discussion of Women of Algiers
Sept 26 (F) No class. Individual conferences with students

Week 5
Sept 29 (M) Our Sister Killjoy, pp.1-51
Oct 1 (W) Our Sister Killjoy, pp.52-end
Oct 3 (F) In-class writing. Continue discussion of Our Sister Killjoy

Week 6
Oct 6 (M) Carole Boyce Davis, "Private Selves and Public Spaces: Autobiography and The African Woman Writer"
Oct 8 (W) Dreams of Trespass, pp.1-100
Oct 10 (F) Dreams of Trespass, pp.103-end

Week 7
Oct 13 (M) Columbus holiday
Oct 15 (W) Student-led session. Paper#2 (4-5 pages) due in class
Oct 17 (F) A Question of Power, pp.1-100

Week 8
Oct 20 (M) A Question of Power, pp.103-end
Oct 22 (W) In-class writing. Continue discussion of A Question of Power
Oct 24 (F) So Long a Letter, pp.1-38

Week 9
Oct 27 (M) So Long a Letter, pp.38-end
Oct 29 (W) Keith L. Walker, "Postscripts: Mariama Bâ, Epistolarity, Menopause, and Postcoloniality"
Oct 31 (F) In-class writing. Continue discussion of So Long a Letter

Week 10
Nov 3 (M) Woman at Point Zero, pp.1-end
Nov 5 (W) Excerpts from The Hidden Face of Eve
Nov 7 (F) Ezeigbo, "Traditional Women's Insitutions in Igbo Society: Implications For the Igbo Female Writer"

Week 11
Nov 10 (M) Second Class Citizen, pp.7-93
Nov 12 (W) Second Class Citizen, pp.94-175
Nov 14 (F) Continue discussion of Second Class Citizen

Week 12
Nov 17 (M) Student-led session. Paper#3 (4-5 pages) due in class
Nov 19 (W) Readings from African women's Poetry (Reading materials will be presented in class)
Nov 21 (F) A discussion of African women's Theater (Reading materials will be handed in in advance)

Week 13
Nov 24 (M) No class. Student conferences
Nov 26-30 Thanksgiving recess

Week 14
Dec 1 (M) Anowa: A play, pp.59-102
Dec 3 (W) Anowa: A play, pp.103-end
Dec 5 (F) Continue discussion of Anowa

Dec 8 (M) Conclusion

Dec 12 Final paper (7-8 pages) due in my mailing box by noon

Writing Assignments

Four papers: the first three 4-5 pp, the fourth 7-8pp. One paper to be handed in during September; one during October, one in November, and one in December. In addition, numerous short writing exercises will be assigned throughout the semester.Papers should be typed, double-spaced, and proofread. There will be a range of assigned topics for each paper; you are also welcome to come up with your own topic, and discuss it with me in advance. Your writing is important for this course, and it is also important that your papers are turned in on time. Grades for late papers will be lowered, unless you arrange an extension with me in advance.

Class participation and in-class writing

This class is intended as a discussion class, and your active participation is expected and required. In addition, several sessions are organized to focus on student readings. You are welcome to meet with me well ahead of the class session to discuss your presentation. I will also ask you frequently during the course of the semester to write in class on a certain topic, and we will base our discussion on your writings.

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