The University of Southampton

ENGL2095 Patriots and Cosmopolitans: African modes of belonging

Module Overview

Africa has produced some of the world’s outstanding literary texts, yet identities and selfhoods described as ‘African’ are sometimes placed in opposition to the rest of the world. The module engages with literary narratives by and/or about Africans in order to examine how they represent the continent as a location of various kinds of loyalty and belonging.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Equip you with vocabularies and concepts with which to think about and discuss Africa without resorting to stereotypes and unfounded generalisations. • Provide historical and cultural contexts for reading and analysing a specific set of fictions from and/or about Africa. • Teach a set of analytical terms related to Africa-related nationalisms and cosmopolitanisms. • Improve your attentive-reading skills by practising them on African texts and genres. • Build on and improve your critical thinking and essay-writing skills acquired in first-year modules (especially, but not exclusively, Narrative & Culture and Critical Theory).

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • How to discuss Africa without unintentionally othering its cultures and peoples.
  • Specific Africa-related texts, contexts and genres.
  • A cluster of critical terms related to the cultural politics of identity and belonging.
  • The interface between literature, culture and politics in pos/tcolonial African contexts.
  • Attentive reading, critical thinking and essay-writing skills appropriate to second-year level of university study.


We will read works that have emerged from struggles around decolonisation, those that critique newly sovereign nations and those that engage with issues of global modernity, and examine the scale and reach of their cultural and political positioning. Lectures and seminars will scrutinise how senses of national, regional and continental affiliation may intersect with, work alongside or interrogate transnational and global ones - in part via notions of race, religion, ethnicity, class, gender and the environment. The module works with politically and ethically inflected concepts such as nativism, pan-Africanism and Afropolitanism without neglecting literary form, aesthetics and style. It will expose you to a range of exciting and memorable texts and genres and allow you to practice attentive reading and critical thinking.

Special Features

At the end of the module, students will be able to gift their used set texts to African readers if they choose to.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching activities include: • Lectures to introduce key concepts, themes and problems. • Seminars involving a mixture of individual presentations, whole class- and small group- discussion on specific topics and discussions and practice of essay-writing techniques. • One-on-one discussion with tutor during office hours. Learning activities include: • Close individual reading of primary set texts. • Listening to and participating (as appropriate & when invited) in lectures. • Group work and individual presentations in seminars. • Writing practice during seminars. • Browsing, reading and extrapolating from set critical readings. • Research (locating, selecting and reading additional critical readings in libraries and online). • Independent follow-up work after one-on-one tutorials.

Completion of assessment task50
Follow-up work50
Preparation for scheduled sessions82
Wider reading or practice60
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Abani, Chris, (2014). The Secret History of Las Vegas. 

Selasi, Taiye (2013). Ghana Must Go. 

Zukiswa Wanner (2014). London, Capetown, Joburg. 

Saro-Wiwa, Ken (1985). Sozaboy. 

Head, Bessie (1969). When Rain Clouds Gather. 

Gordimer, Nadine (1991). Jump and Other Stories. 

Lessing, Doris (1950). The Grass is Singing. 

Mpe, Pashwane (2001). Welcome to Our Hillbrow. 

Wainaina, Binyawanga (2011). One Day I’ll Write about This Place. 

Laye, Camara (1954). The African Child. 

Beti, Mongo (1971). Cruel City. 

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (2006). Half of a Yellow Sun. 

Aidoo, Ama Ata (1997). Our Sister Killjoy. 

Achebe, Chinua (1972). Girls at War. 

Native, A (1886). Marita: Or the Folly of Love. 

Soyinka, Wole (1981). Aké. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical essay  (3000 words) 40%
Take-away exam  (3000 words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

The cost of set texts on this module is not likely to exceed £100 and may well be substantially less (depending on the primary texts selected each year).

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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