Variants of a Species: Retheorising the Postcolonial African Female Bildungsroman


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




The Bildungsroman (Narrative of Growth) has been extensively studied in the West, but scholarly works on it in Africa are very few. This could be attributed to the fact that these narratives are sometimes treated as juvenile fiction because they feature a child. This study examines the resuscitation, reconfiguration, and domestication of the Bildungsroman by African writers who claim subject status for hitherto invisible and marginalized groups in postcolonial African society. Through analysis of carefully selected texts, the study counters the reductionist claims that most twenty-first century African narratives that fall within the latitude of the Bildungsroman belong in the category of children’s literature because they engage issues too complex for juvenile fiction. The study also articulates how female writers subvert the traditional Bildungsroman and negate the misprisions of the Eurocentric male-centered Bildungsroman, rethink marriage plots,and provide literary explorations of feminist activism and nationalism.