Fall 2019 Undergraduate English Courses

358:216 World Literatures in English

01  TTH8  LIV   20631   IBIRONKE   BE-011


This course is an exploration of African cosmopolitan literature and thought. We will learn about the project of cosmopolitanism and how African writers have responded to it. We take as our point of departure, Taiye Selasi’s proclamation: “We are Afropolitans—not citizens, but Africans, of the world.” Since Taiye Selasi coined “Afropolitan” in deliberate opposition to “cosmopolitan,” in “Bye-Bye Barbar” as a neologism to describe the social imaginary of a generation of Africans born outside the continent, the term Afropolitan or Afropolitanism has received broader theoretical and philosophical grounding, especially in Achille Mbembe’s 2006 essay where he draws attention to the long history of migration to, from, and within the African continent, and to the phenomenon of “cultural mixing” or “the interweaving of worlds” that has long been an African “way of belonging to the world.” Following Mbembe’s lead, this course will track the genealogy of the original question of Afropolitanism: “What does it mean to be African in the world, or Africans of the world?” We will examine Afropolitanism as critical cosmopolitanism, that is, as a critique of cosmopolitanism: “not citizens of the world.” and a view of the Afropolitan as a translational and transformational figure-- against the background of works such as Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, and Mestizo Logics by Jean-Loup Amselle, among others. Our primary challenge will be to entertain the claims of the emerging and fast growing body of migrant fiction: Teju Cole’s Open CityKnown and Strange Things, Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana, to constituting Afropolitan literature by redrawing the borders and spaces of contemporary African literature as well as disrupting the notions of exile, diaspora, and cosmopolitanism: indeed, putting into question the very notions of “world,” “cosmos,” and “global.”


Known & Strange Things Author: COLE     

Open City Author: COLE      

Ghana Must Go Author: SELASI     

We Need New Names Author: BULAWAYO           

Behold the Dreamers Author: MBUE           

Cosmopolitanism Author: APPIAH  

Selection from Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism Author: BROCK