of African Literature:
By Sharon Verba
July 20, 1997
Those women who struggle without giving up hope, herald the impending change...: change in attitude for both men and women as they evaluate and re-evaluate their social roles.... -Rosemary Moyana, "Men & Women"
Rereading, willful misreading, and de- and re-coding are tools used in African literature and womanist or feminist discourse to challenge "canonized 'literature'" that tends to black out Black and blanch out Woman. -Kofi Owusu, "Canons Under Siege"
[T]he collective effort has to emerge from the ranks of those whose life is theorized. -Sisi Maqagi, "Who Theorizes"
Feminist criticism of African literatures is a steadily growing field. The following bibliography includes articles and essays in English and French which examine African literatures (fiction, poetry, drama and oral literature) from a feminist or womanist perspective. It does not include, unfortunately, criticism in other languages -- such as Wolof, Xhosa, Zulu, Portuguese, German, or Arabic -- due to my own inability to read those languages. Also, authors whose works are originally written in languages other than French or English, such as Ngugi wa Thiongo's plays and the novel, Devil on the Cross, and Nawal al Sa'dawi's works, may be under-represented in this bibliography, as criticism often tends to be written in the language of the work being addressed.
The first sections of this essay will present overviews on two key issues for those interested in both feminism and African literatures: the current debate over the role of feminist criticisms in addressing African literatures, and an examination of the changes which have developed over the past decade in the ways feminist criticism approaches African literatures. This examination will trace these changes from 1985-1996 by considering articles which represent the ongoing evolution of feminist...