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By Handel Kashope Wright

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Read Online or Download A Prescience of African Cultural Studies: The Future of Literature in Africa Is Not What It Was (Counterpoints (New York, N.Y.), Vol. 40.) PDF

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Additional info for A Prescience of African Cultural Studies: The Future of Literature in Africa Is Not What It Was (Counterpoints (New York, N.Y.), Vol. 40.)

Example text

My heart sinks. ” Besides, his monologue ended, St. Augustine is about to use me to maintain the attention of the rest of the class. ” The class of course senses “a moment” and their collective gaze is fixed on me too. I wonder how long they’ve all been watching me and make a mental note to give my “friend” sitting next to me a sharp elbow in the side for not warning me about this. “Perhaps Handel would rather be outside playing soccer,” St. Augustine says, glaring down at me. The class, knowing what a hopeless soccer player I am, roars with laughter.

However, I also think that it makes little sense to speak of literature without speaking of what in a work gives one pleasure, what one finds beautiful or moving, in short, some notion of the aesthetic value of the work. It is important to note, though, that I employ a much altered conception of “aesthetics” and assign it a strategic and much more limited role than it plays in received traditional western criticism. African aesthetics are often different from western aesthetics, and this dichotomy has important consequences for literary appreciation.

In other words I am not merely advocating the study of Africa and asserting that Africa and Africans are as worthy of study as Europeans. I am neither advocating the evolution of a new discipline nor an entirely new framework for taking up the study of Africa, one which would address the exclusion of Africa from what is globally considered worthwhile knowledge. As Bates, Mudimbe, & O’Barr (1993b) point out, such approaches to the relationship between Africa and the disciplines in the end miss a crucial point: “that while the curriculum may be controlled by the disciplines, the study of Africa has helped to define these very disciplines” (p.

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