Things Fall Apart Review

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Session 1

Close analysis of texts (as in section four – Critical Study) can influence the meaning a reader constructs in a text. However, we also recognise that many of these elements are shaped by the context in which they were created.

Objective: Demonstrate how the formal elements of the text, genre and structure can not only be seen to influence meaning but can also be influenced by context. 

Review: the biographical and contextual details of Achebe. We collected notes on this document. You might like to do a little more wider reading on this to develop greater knowledge of Achebe’s context.

If we assume that context shapes literary features of a text, then it might be possible to identify patterns in style coming from African writers. Read the section “An African Literary Tradition” (3 paragraphs)

TASK: What categories does this article suggest are useful in defining literature from Africa? Which does Achebe fall into? 

Read the section on Oral Tradition from the “Exploring Africa” article.

Task: make comparisons between Achebe’s style and the features of oral tradition in Africa. 

Consider the following literary features:

  • Characterisation
  • Literary (poetic) technique
  • Elements of style and structure
  • Narrative technique

TASK: Find examples of each of these literary features that suggest that context might have influenced their creation. 

eg. The characterisation of Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown suggests that the attitudes and actions of the colonisers were both positive and negative, a sentiment less evident in colonial literature. Further, Smith’s actions are clearly represented as negative and the reader is encouraged to sympathise with the Ibo community. Find some quotes to support this.

Check the Skype discussion on this topic.

Session 2

Re-read Part 2 of TFA (113-142), where Okonkwo is exiled to his motherland.

I’m interested in this question, taken from the Language and Literature Subject Guide from the section on “Paper 2”:

  • How can we explain the continued interest in a particular work in different contexts and at different times?

TASK: Why does TFA continue to be so popular? Do some thinking on this point and we will discuss next meet-up.

You can review the discussion of this question on this transcript.

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