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Postcolonial Unit Paper Project: Home

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Webquest and Suggested Links

Complete the following questions by using the links provided. We will discuss these topics prior to reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. You will later be asked to use some of your research notes in a final paper on the novel. For that reason, you will also want to note where you find your answers, because you will need to parenthetically cite your sources as well as complete an MLA Works Cited page.

Pre-Research Questions with Suggested Sources

Colonization and Post-Colonization of Africa (or specifically Nigeria)

  • What was the "Scramble for Africa?"  Why did it happen?
  • Why did European colonization of Africa happen so rapidly?
  • How did life change for African societies during colonization?
  • How did missionaries change Africa during colonization?
  • What is the lasting legacy of colonization?

The Story of Africa (BBC)
Africana Age (NYPL)
World History in Context : Scramble for Africa
World History in Context : Colonialism in Africa
World History in Context : Western Education and Missionaries
World History in Context : Globalization
Nigeria's Current Troubles (Globalist)

Culture and Belief System of the Igbo

  • Who are the Igbo people? Where do they live? What is their life like? How have their customs and traditions changed since the 1880s?
  • What do they believe? Describe their religious system and the hierarchy of Igbo cosmology.
  • What is the concept of Chi?
  • Describe the language of the Igbo.

The Igbo Guide
World History in Context : Igbo People
World History in Context : Ancient History of the Igbo 
World History in Context : Religion of the Igo
World History in Context : Dieties of the Igbo Religion

Achebe and Writing about Africa

  • Who was Chinua Achebe?
  • How did European authors portray Africa in the 1900's?
  • Why was the publication of Things Fall Apart important?
  • How do we think about Africa today?

ABC-CLIO Biography of Chinua Achebe
Interview with Achebe (The Atlantic)
World History in Context : Decolonization through writing
World History in Context : Implementing Afrocentricity
Long and Ugly Tradition of Treating Africa... (Washington Post)

Other Interesting Links:
Map Comparing Africa in Size to Other Countries
"How to Write about Africa" by Binyavanga Wainaina (Granta 92)

Paper Topics

Synthesis Postcolonial Unit Paper Topics

You must use the research, Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness in your paper. Parenthetical documentation and a full MLA work cited page is required (5 sources minimum). Your paper should be a minimum of five pages in length and properly formatted as a research paper (typed).

1. The power of religion or any ideology can both guide a society and destroy it. Discuss the ways in which Christianity and/or another ideology, as promoted by the missionaries, does both. Include information about the religious beliefs associated with the Ibo people as well as examples from the novels to support your thesis assertion.

2. Comment on how Achebe and Conrad, through their novels, counter and/or reinforce the Imperialist stereotypes of Africa as an uncivilized continent. Be sure to consider point of view and purpose in your discussion. Use information from your pre-reading research as well as from the novels to support your thesis assertion.

3. Achebe does a great deal of "showing" instead of telling in his novel about Africa and the Ibo culture. What does he show about the culture, its history and beliefs, and how does Achebe capture the cultural fabric of this people through literary elements (you may explore narrative structure, sound devices, figurative language, point of view, voice, and narrative shifts among other things)? Use information from both your pre-reading research and the text itself. How would you describe Conrad’s writing style comparatively? What role does writing style play in the meaning or purpose of the texts as a whole?

4. Both Achebe and Conrad are said to be critics of the “Scramble for Africa,” however, they use their literary voices in much different ways. Argue which author makes a more powerful case against colonization and why. You must consider their writing style and their artistic choices in your argument about their successes and failings.

5. We have been reading Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness through a postcolonial lens. For this option you may turn to a different lens (critical approach) of your choice. Conduct a reading of both novels through your chosen lens. For example, what do these novels have to say about gender? What do they have to say about ideology and power? What can they show us about the psychological state or damage done to the characters? Or, do you think these authors are playing with archetypes and allusions to demonstrate a point? Let your lens take you to a new and interesting reading of these novels. Be sure to draw on the research you conducted prior to reading them as well.

Subject Guide

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Jennifer Jourdain
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
(978) 345-9200 x5125