Relocating Agency

Modernity and African Letters

By Olakunle George

Subjects: Postcolonial Studies
Series: SUNY series, Explorations in Postcolonial Studies
Paperback : 9780791455425, 247 pages, March 2003
Hardcover : 9780791455418, 247 pages, March 2003

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Table of contents



1. Issues and Context: On Knowledge as Limit

2. Contemporary Theory and the Demand for Agency

3. The Logic of Agency in African Literary Criticism

4. D. O. Fagunwa as Compound of Spells

5. Wole Soyinka and the Challenge of Transition



Works Cited


A postmodernist metacritical look at theories of African literature.


2003 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Combining a sustained critical engagement of Anglo-American theory with focused close-readings of major African writers, this book performs a long-overdue cross-fertilization of ideas among poststructuralism, postcolonial theory, and African literature. The author examines several influential figures in current theory such as Habermas, Althusser, Laclau and Mouffe, as well as the theorists of postcolonialism, and offers an extended reading of the Nigerian writers D. O. Fagunwa, Wole Soyinka, Amos Tutuola, and Chinua Achebe. He argues that contrary to what the purism and voluntarism common to postcolonial theory might suggest, one lesson of African letters is that significant agency can result from acts that are blind to their determinations. For George, African letters offer an instance of "agency-in-motion," as opposed to agency in theory.

Olakunle George is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Oregon.