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It is thought that African literature tends to be dominated by the masculine-oriented politics that also characterizes African public political life. In some cases, this is true, but there is a feminist movement in Africa, and many African women writers are using global feminist principles and global anti-colonial principles to write a different kind of literature. As a consequence, recent novels such as Yvonne Vera’s Nehanda (1993), set in Zimbabwe, and Petina Gappah’s Out of Darkness, Shining Light (2019), revise past, often male, African writers’ approaches to depicting the genders, even as they also criticize, implicitly or explicitly, still-widespread colonialist stereotypes of African women. This thesis will analyze first Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (1958), and the 1959 play The Lion and The Jewel by Wole Soyinka for their representation of African gender politics under the stress of colonialism. It will then argue that Vera and Gappah represent a new approach to depicting women characters in relation to colonization and agency.
Advisor: Matt Cohen