The African Novel module (EN31026)

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Module code


  • Level 3
  • 30 Credits
  • Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


This module will introduce you to some of the most important and influential novels written by Africans. It offers you an understanding of the wealth and variety of African imaginative and literary practice through a focus on the novel form, and a perspective on what is distinctive about African novels and novelists.

You will explore the range of genres and modes in which some of the major African novels have been written (for example, historical, allegorical, fabular or primitivist, speculative, Utopian/dystopian, psychoanalytic, political, anti-war, pastoral, etc.,). The module encourages an appreciation of cultural difference through exposing you to a variety of viewpoints and texts.

Please see below module outline:

  • Week 1 - Colonial Romance. H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines (1885)
  • Week 2 - Epic. Thomas Mofolo: Chaka (1925)
  • Week 3 - Folk Tale. Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952)
  • Week 4 - The Political Novel (1): Chinua Achebe, Arrow of God (1964)
  • Week 5 - The Political Novel (2): Ngugi wa Thiong'o, A Grain of Wheat (1967)
  • Week 6 - Utopia. Bessie Head, When Rain Clouds Gather (1968)
  • Week 7 - Gothic. Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North (1969)
  • Week 8 - Metafiction. J.M. Coetzee, Foe (1986)
  • Week 9 - The Psychoanalytic Novel: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (1988)
  • Week 10 -The Historical/War Novel. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)
  • Week 11 - Dystopian SF/Cyberpunk. Lauren Beukes, Moxyland (2008)


Dr Nicole Devarenne


This module will be taught by one weekly one-hour lecture plus one weekly two-hour seminar over 11 weeks. 


  • Oral presentation 10%
  • Close analysis essay 30%
  • Research Essay 60%


Novels by some of the following writers will be studied (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Chinua Achebe
  • Ken Saro-Wiwa
  • Amos Tutuola
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  • J.M. Coetzee
  • Ayi Kwei Armah
  • Tayeb Salih
  • Bessie Head
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga
  • Lauren Beukes

Access the online reading list system

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should have acquired:

  • A solid grounding in some of the major achievements of African novelists,
  • An appreciation of Africa's contribution to world literature (predominantly, but not exclusively, in English),
  • Familiarity with a range of African cultural, literary, social and historical/political contexts and how they impact on the concerns explored in African novels,
  • A more developed vocabulary for describing the formal properties of novels from a variety of genres and modes.


This module is available on following courses: