Context of the Reader and Writer

By now we have looked at some of the Cultural, Contextual and Literary aspects of Things Fall Apart. This task will require you to synthesize some of these ideas.

Consider the differences we investigated between colonial and post colonial art:

Image: Painting of a Zulu attack on a “Voortrekker” camp, Charles Bell 1813-1882

Image: Coon Carnival II, Sandy Esau

We are going to have a look at a little of Conrad’s writing as a point of comparison. Before we do, read an essay from Achebe on what he thought about Conrad’s writing.

Task: Take a few notes that summarise some of Achebe’s key ideas

Task: Now try looking at some of Joseph Conrad’s writing on Africa

If we take Conrad as a typical colonial writer (Heart of Darkness was published in 1902) then we would consider Achebe as a post-colonial writer.

Task: what do you think the characteristics of post-colonial literature (and criticism) would be? One group can research post-colonial writing and we’ll compare the two. 

Characteristics of Postcolonial Criticism

Through an investigation of TFA, Ali and Nuriyya discovered these characteristics (scroll down to the relevant section)

Read a little more into the field of post-colonial studies. The website from the university of Emory gives quite a comprehensive overview of the topic. Consider:

  • What is the goal of the post-colonial project?
  • What is contentious amongst the community?
  • They suggest that colonisation still occurs through Neo-colonialism. What is this about?
Finally, look at Peter Barry’s summary of “What Postcolonial critics do”

TASK: Look at each of these features. Are they evident in Things Fall Apart?

Part 3 – Literature – Texts and Context

Meaning in a text is shaped by culture and by the contexts of the circumstances of its production. It is also shaped by what the reader brings to it. Literary texts are not created in a vacuum but are influenced by social context, cultural heritage and historical change. Through the close reading of literary texts, students are able to consider the relationship between literature and issues at large, such as gender, power and identity. Students should be encouraged to consider how texts build upon and transform the inherited literary and cultural traditions. The compulsory study of translated texts encourages students to reflect on their own cultural assumptions through an examination of work produced in other languages and cultures.

Writing Folio: Choose a statement from the IB Language and Literature guide and respond to it using TFA as your example text. 

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