The Anglophone African Literary-Linguistic Continuum: English and Indigenous African Languages in African Literary Discourse


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




The project examines the relationship between English and African indigenous languages in literary discourse. Extending Derek Bickerton’s pioneering study, it argues that the role of English, a former colonial language, serves as an arbiter in the re-imagining of diverse African communities. This Anglophone African literary-linguistic continuum exists in the relationship between literary English and the indigenous languages and cultures that it imaginatively and concretely embodies in traditionally non-native universes of discourse. By acknowledging the local and national peculiarities as well as the effects of English as a shared former colonial language, the study establishes that a continuum extends across the fiction of four of Africa's most prominent Anglophone novelists: Chinua Achebe of Nigeria in West Africa, Ngugi wa Thiong’o of Kenya in East Africa, Nadine Gordimer of South Africa, and Nuruddin Farah of Somalia in the Horn of Africa.