2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

(Re)Assessing African Gender Studies in American Classrooms
Samuel N. Edeh
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

American students of African literature have depended on both African and non-African literary writers for teachings about Africa. One aspect of African culture that has been explored in American education is gender and sexuality in Africa. Among the literary works that has been heavily relied upon for studies on African gender is Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958). It needs to be noted, however, that Achebe’s portrayal of African women in Things Fall Apart, specifically, Igbo women in southeastern Nigeria, may not be the only plausible interpretation of gender roles in African societies. In his novel, Achebe presents a complicated cultural system that largely diminishes female power but still bestows great power and authority on female divinities. However, one notable African work, Ifi Amadiume’s Female Husbands and Male Daughters provides a more balanced and realistic view of gender and sexuality in African communities. This paper will analyze the aforementioned books to highlight some subtle points that could lead to a better understanding of gender roles in African societies.

Keywords: African literature, American education, Chinua Achebe, Sexuality, Gender, Igbo women, Female power, Cultural system


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 7-2
Location: VH 1304
Time: 8:45

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