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Pragmatic decolonial moves: African-Atlantic writers within a minor literature

Oumar Diogoye Diouf, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation focuses on postcolonial writers of African descent and locates the center of their literary production in the transatlantic area. It covers three distinct regions–Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States–and therefore, three different literary traditions: African literature, African-Caribbean literature, and African-American literature. Through a postcolonial discourse analysis, it examines the efficacy of the major decolonial moves made in the works of a large number of authors including Harriet Jacobs, Jessie Fauset, Pauline Hopkins, Jean Toomer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Aimé Césaire, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Ayi Kwei Armah, and Ahmadou Kourouma. I adopt a thematic and genealogical approach to the decolonial writing strategies employed by these African-Atlantic authors in order to compare, contrast, and put in dialogue with one another works that are diverse in genre, historical origin, and geographical location. Thus, on the methodological level, I proceed through a close reading of primary texts along three theoretical premises. First, I propose an expansion of the disciplinary canon in order to include African-American literature in the postcolonial literary tradition and then highlight possibilities for future cross-fertilizations within each and across all of the three main African-Atlantic literary traditions. Second, I advocate a shift in methodology. I develop a subjunctive approach to the decolonial strategic moves made in African-Atlantic writings and examine the ways in which postcolonial criticism could redirect African-Atlantic authors toward more effective avenues to serve the revolutionary interests and concerns of postcolonial peoples. Third, I propose a new theoretical paradigm. In order to highlight the rhetorical force of these texts to bring about change in a decolonial spirit, I draw from two antifoundational schools of thought that have a telos-oriented take on arts: American pragmatism and the theories of affect.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|African American Studies|African literature|Caribbean literature|American literature

Recommended Citation

Diouf, Oumar Diogoye, "Pragmatic decolonial moves: African-Atlantic writers within a minor literature" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618567.