Monday, 3 December 2012

MMU Lecture: Naturalism, Humanitarianism and the Fiction of War

Monday 10th December 2012

Public lecture by Professor Eleni Coundouriotis (Connecticut)

War has always occupied an important place in the African novel and, in recent years, has arguably become the dominant literary theme of works about Africa read outside Africa. As a subject, war presents particular challenges as it threatens to mire us in stereotypes of Africa as conflict ridden and dysfunctional. A close reading of the literature, however, reveals a great deal that counters these now static images. The war novel in Africa (from the 1960s through the 1990s) is in fact a people’s history, an attempt to write outside the frame of the Bildungsroman, the genre which dominated the literature of an educated, assimilated class, and imagine history from below. Because it has the characteristics of naturalist fiction, it is, moreover, linked to humanitarian discourse, and it is this relationship between naturalism and humanitarianism that situates it in the growing scholarship on human rights and literature. If war is the subject of humanitarianism par excellence, what could be the contribution of a reading of war fiction to the emerging academic discourse of human rights?

Eleni Coundouriotis is Professor of English at the University of Connecticut and Faculty Affiliate of the Human Rights Institute.

Eleni’s research interests are in postcolonial literature, nineteenth-century comparative prose studies, cultural studies and human rights. Her publications include Claiming History: Colonialism, Ethnography, and the Novel (1999) and the forthcoming The People’s Right to the Novel: War Fiction in the Postcolony.

Lecture 6.00pm Geoffrey Manton Lecture Theatre 5

Reception starts in the atrium at 5.30pm

Please register on Eventbrite here:

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