Contemporary Western Literary and Filmic Representations of Africa: Reproducing the Colonial Template


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




This project examines selected contemporary Western novels and films set in Africa by assessing the degree to which they reproduce the colonial template in Rider Haggard’s “King Solomon’s Mines” (1885), the first colonial novel set in Africa, and its 1950 movie adaptation.The study addresses this question through analysis of three contemporary western novels: Clive Cussler's “Sahara” (1992), John Le Carre’s “The Constant Gardener” (2001), and Giles Foden’s “The Last King of Scotland” (1998), and their film adaptations. The research is grounded in the contemporary literature/film adaptation theory of transtextuality and examines how the characters, themes, and attitudes in the colonial novel are “de(re)composed” and “incarnate” on the screens, and how the films hold onto the “spirit” of the colonial hypertexts. It also investigates the self-reflexivity in recent films that metatextually critique their novel sources, pointing to a minimal shift in the representation of Africa and of Africans.