ACLAnet Menu

Back to ACLAnet Syllabi & Documents

Amherst College
Spring Semester, 1987

Prof. Rhonda Cobham-Sander
11A Johnson Chapel
Tel.: 542-2186

The following books may be purchased at Jeffrey Amherst bookshop. Copies will also be placed on reserve at the Robert Frost Library. Books will be discussed in the order listed:

Joseph Zobel, Black Shack Alley (Three Continents Press)
Michael Anthony, The Year in San Fernando (Heinemann, pbk)
Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)
Camara Laye, The Dark Child (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)
Nafissatou Diallo, A Dakar Childhood (Longman)
Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm
Ngugi wa Thiongo, The River Between (Heinemann)
Ian McDonald, The Humming Bird Tree (Heinemann)
Ismith Khan, The Jumbie Bird (Longman)
Mbulelo Mzamane, Children of Soweto (Ohio University Press)
Wole Soyinka, Ake: The Years of Childhood (Random House)
Derek Walcott, Another Life (Three Continents Press)
Sistren, Lionheart Gal (The Women's Press)
Erna Brodber, Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home (New Beacon Books)
Simone Schwarz-Bart, The Bridge of Beyond (Heinemann)

Course Requirements

Students are expected to read all of the set texts in time to participate actively in seminar discussions. Grades will be assessed on the basis of student's classroom performance and three written assignments.

1. An informally structured journal in which students relate the perceptions of childhood in the texts discussed to their personal experiences.

2. An in-class presentation of one of the required texts, introducing fellow students to the work of the author and the social and literary context out of which the text was written.

3. A literary analysis of the construction of gender, class and/or religious and ethnic identities in a work by an African or Caribbean author not included on the course.


Erna Brodber. Percentions of Caribbean Women. Cave Hill, Barbados: ISER, 1982.

Daryl Dance. Fifty Caribbean Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Source Book.

Ngugi wa Thiongo. Homecoming. London: Heinemann, 1972

Kenneth Ramchand. The West Indian Novel and Its Background. London: Faber, 1970

Wole Soyinka. Myth, Literature and the African World. London.

Hans Zell. A Reader's Guide to African Literature. London: Heinemann 1985.


January 27 Introduction: Course description: Bibliographic information. Refer to Maps of Africa and the Caribbean (Litho).
In-class journal assignment.


February 2 The world of the Caribbean child.
Read: Black Shack Alley
Watch: the film, Sugar Cane Alley

9 Limitations and possibilities of the child narrator
Read: The Year in San Fernando
Refer to: Ramchand's chapter on the novels of childhood in The West Indian Novel and its Background. (litho)

16 Constructions of gender in literature and society.
Read: Annie John
Refer to: Merle Hodges' introduction to Perceptions of Caribbean Women by Erna Brodber (litho).

23 Whose childhood? Autobiography as representative experience.
Read: The African Child and A Dakar Childhood
Refer to: Mbye Cham's article "Islam in Senegalese Literature and Film" (litho)
Watch: the film Tauw by Ousman Sembene.


March 3 The narrative of change: Creativity vs. Conformity in the White Settler experience.
Read: The Story of an African Farm
Refer to: Relevant sections from Ruth First's study of Schreiner (litho)

10 Gender as destiny? Plot determinants in the novel of cultural confrontation.
Read: The River Between
Refer to: Margaret Marshment's article, "Literature and Ideology" and selections from Jane Tapsubei Creider's Two Lives: My Spirit and I (litho).

17 The metaphor of childhood in South African literature.
Read: Children of Soweto
Refer to: Material from This Child is not Dead (litho)
Watch: the film, Six Days in Soweto.


March 31 The Caribbean novel of initiation.
Read: The Jumbie Bird and The Humming Bird Tree
Refer to: Ramchard's essay (see Feb. 9) and Rhonda Cobham's essay on "The Jumbie Bird: A Reassessment" (litho).


April 7 Restructuring the past: Autobiography as art.
Read: Ake
Refer to: Richard Priebe's article "On Form and Ideology with specific attention to Ake." (litho)
Watch: Slides on Yoruba culture.

14 The artist as metaphor
Read: Another Life
Refer to: Walcott's essay, "Leaving Home" and Baugh's chapter on Walcott's "Early Life and Influences" (litho).

21 Mastering language: Mastering life
Read: Lionhart Gal
Refer to: Ford-Smith's introduction to the volume.

28 History as Vision:
Read: Jane and Louisa will Soon Come Home and The Bridge of Beyond.
Refer to: Merle Hodge's essay (see Feb. 16) and excerpts from Filomina Steady's The Black Woman Cross -CulturalIy (litho)

May 5 Perceptions of Childhood in African and Caribbean literature. Review of course and discussion of conclusions.


Syllabus-Related Materials:

Back to ACLAnet Syllabi & Documents

Home button

About ACLAnet - Syllabi & Documents - Syllabus Related Materials - Pedagogical Theory and Practice
Participant List/Profiles - Additional Resources - Suggest New Links - Submit Material - Search ACLAnet