Trauma and Transformation in African Literature  book cover
1st Edition

Trauma and Transformation in African Literature

ISBN 9781138205239
Published October 5, 2020 by Routledge
198 Pages

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Book Description

This book fills a gap in the field of contemporary trauma studies by interrogating the relevance of trauma for African literatures. Kurtz argues that a thoughtful application of trauma theory in relation to African literatures is in fact a productive exercise, and furthermore that the benefits of this exercise include not only what it can do for African literature, but also what it can do for trauma studies. He makes the case for understanding trauma healing within the larger project of peacebuilding, with an emphasis on the transformative potential of what he terms the African moral imagination as embodied in the creative work of its writers. He offers readings of selected works by Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chimamanda Adichie, and Nuruddin Farah as case studies for how African literature can influence our understanding of trauma and trauma healing. This will be a valuable volume for those with interests in current trends and developments in trauma studies, African literary studies, postcolonial studies, and memory studies.

Table of Contents


Introduction:  Trauma Theory, Going Global

Part I – Trauma and African Literature

Chapter 1:    Trauma, the Thorn in the Spirit

Chapter 2:    Conceptual Problems in Trauma

Chapter 3:    Traumatomimesis and the Moral Imagination

Chapter 4:    Trauma and the African Moral Imagination

Part II – Case Studies

Chapter 5:    A State of Perpetual Emergency: Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat

Chapter 6:    Trauma Tropes in a Nigerian Context: Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus

Chapter 7:    The Trauma of Failure: The State and the Individual in Nuruddin Farah’s Crossbones


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J. Roger Kurtz is professor of English and head of the Department of English and Philosophy at Drexel University in Philadelphia PA. His research interests center on East African literatures and cultures, and he is the author Literature and Trauma (Cambridge University Press), Song of Nyarloka: The Writing of Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (Mvule Africa Publishers), and Urban Obsessions, Urban Fears: The Postcolonial Kenyan Novel (James Currey Press).