Writing African Women

Gender, Popular Culture and Literature in West Africa

Edited by Stephanie Newell
With a Foreword by Wendy Griswold

New Edition


An enlivening exploration of the links between literature, popular culture and theories of gender in African literature.
How does our understanding of Africa shift when we begin from the perspective of women? What can the African perspective offer theories of culture and of gender difference?

This work, as unique and insightful today as when it was first published, brings together a wide variety of African academics and other researchers to explore the links between literature, popular culture and theories of gender. Beginning with a ground-breaking overview of African gender theory, the book goes on to analyse women's writing, uncovering the ways different writers have approached issues of female creativity and colonial history, as well as the ways in which they have subverted popular stereotypes around African women. The contributors also explore the related gender dynamics of mask performance and oral story-telling. 

This major analysis of gender in popular and postcolonial cultural production remains essential reading for students and academics in women's studies, cultural studies and literature.

Author Bio

Stephanie Newell is a professor of English at the Yale University, specialising in West African literature. Her other books include The Power to Name: A History of Anonymity in Colonial West Africa (2013) and The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku (2006).

Wendy Griswold is the Bergen Evans Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University. Her books include Cultures and Societies in a Changing World (new edition 2012) and Bearing Witness: Readers, Writers, and the Novel in Nigeria (2000).

Table of Contents

  • Part I: Theory and Politics
    • 1. Reading Towards a Theorization of African Women's Writing: African Women Writers Within Feminist Gynocriticism - Nana Wilson-Tagoe
    • 2. Masculinity: The Military, Women and Cultural Politics in Nigeria - Bayo Ogunjimi
    • 3. Women's Role in Ghana's Social Development: a Short Statement - Akosua Gyamfuaa-Fofie
  • Part II:: Literatures
    • 4. A Life on the women's Page: Treena Kwenta's Diary - Jane Bryce
    • 5. Recovering Lost Voices: The Short Stories of Mabel - Dove-Danquah and Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang
    • 6. Rewriting Popular Myths of Female Subordination: Selected Stories by Theodor Ezeigbo and May Ifeoma Nwoye - Chinyere Okafor
    • 7. Gender Conflict in Flora Nwapa's Novels - Theodora Akachi Ezeigbo
    • 8. Culture and Gender Semantics in Flora Nwapa's Poetry - Obododimma Oha
    • 9. Behind the Veil in Northern Nigeria: The Writing of Zaynab Alkali and Hauwa Ali - Margaret Hauwa Kassam
    • 10. The Onus of Womanhood: Mariama Bƒ and Zaynab Alkali - Ibiyemi Mojola
    • 11. Narrative Technique and the Politics of Gender: Ama Ata Aidoo's Our Sister Killjoy and No Sweetness Here - Chioma Opara 
  • Part III: Popular Culture
    • 12. Hausa Women as Oral Storytellers in Nigeria - Sani Abba Aliyu
    • 13. Gender Politics in West African Mask Performance - Chinyere Grace Okafor
    • 14. Anatomy of Masculine Power: Three Perspectives on Marriage and Gender in Nigerian Non-Fiction - Stephanie Newell
    • 15. Gender Tempered Through Metal: Women in Metal Casting in Benin City, Nigeria - Adepeju Layiwola


‘Clear, informed thinking about the gendered nexus of culture and power is needed more than ever. The new publication of Newell’s collection is an event to be applauded, and its contents to be pondered.’
Wendy Griswold, from the Foreword


Publication Date: 15 June 2017
216 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781786990105
Hardback 2nd Edition: 9781786990693
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781786990075
eBook PDF 2nd Edition: 9781786990082
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781786990099

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