Obi Nwakanma

Obi Nwakanma, Ph.D.

Biography

Poet, journalist, biographer and literary critic, Obi Nwakanma was born in Nigeria. Thirsting for Sunlight, his biography of the tragic modernist poet, Christopher Okigbo, was published by James Currey (UK) in 2010. His collection of poems, The Horsemen & Other Poems, was published by Africa World Press (New Jersey) in 2007, and Birthcry (Poems) by Kraft Books (Ibadan) in 2016. Nwakanma’s first collection of poems, The Roped Urn, was awarded the Cadbury Prize in 1996 by the Association of Nigerian Authors, and he received the Walter J. Ong Award for Distinguished Achievement in 2008 from Saint Louis University. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in various anthologies and publications including Okike, Vanguard Review, WSQ, Callaloo, Ariel, Brick, Adelaide, Antiphon,and Wasafiri. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Dutch, German, and Turkish. Obi Nwakanma has also worked as a professional journalist, reporting internationally for Newsweek, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, and as Group Literary editor for the Vanguard, one of the major national newspapers in Nigeria, for which he continues to write a weekly column, “The Orbit” in the Sunday Vanguard. He is currently working on a novel, a new collection of poems, and a book on The Mbari Movement, Transnationalism and Modern African Literature.

Education

  • Ph.D. in English from Saint Louis University, Missouri
  • M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis
  • B.A. in English from University of Jos, Nigeria (1989)

Research Interests

Creative Writing - Poetry, fiction, the biography, Journalism, History of Ideas/Black intellectual experience, Modernity, post-colonial, National, Cultural & literary theories; African, African-American, Diaspora, and contemporary Trans-Atlantic Literatures.

Courses

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
17268 AFA3104 Black Intellectual Experience Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM Unavailable
No Description Available
18247 LIT3931 Topics in World Literature World Wide Web (W) Unavailable

This course introduces students to world literary masterpieces. It seeks to examine world literature as a field of cross-cultural and transnational systems of thought and production. We will study representative works of world literature from the nineteenth century to the present. We will put into consideration the literary, cultural, and political significance of selected works of a global literary tradition, including women’s writing speaking to a dialogue of the western and the non-western tradition intersecting on the issues of colonialism, nationalism, and self-representation. This class aims to interrogate and expand an understanding of these canonical works in their cultural/ historical contexts and hopefully situate the enduring human values which connect the different literary traditions. We will pay special attention to critical thinking and writing within a framework of cultural theories as well as comparative and interdisciplinary analysis.

18356 LIT6216 Issues in Literary Study Face to Face Instruction (P) M 07:30 PM - 10:15 PM Unavailable

This course, (Lit. 6216) will be devoted to a study of African Literature, specifically, a seminar on Chinua whose novels, memoirs, and essays will be examined in the context of their modernity. The publication of his now classic novel, Things Fall Apart in 1958, inaugurated a new tradition in African literature, particularly African literature written in the English language. Achebe has thus often been described as the “father of African literature.” This description is fraught, and is certainly most subjective, given that African novelists have written works of significance that predate the publication of Things Fall Apart. For example, the South African novelist, Peter Abraham’s Mine Boy (1948), was arguably the first modern African novel to gain international attention. Yet Achebe continues to occupy a place of importance in the discourse of modern literature that cannot be faulted nor be over-emphasized. He is established firmly at the head of the canon of modern African literature, and this seminar offers us an opportunity to understand why. Why, for instance, does a novel like Things Fall Apart provoke very visceral and memorable response at our encounter with its central character, Okonkwo of Umuofia? Does this have to do with our understanding of classical Greek heroic archetypes, or is there something specifically African in the quality of his tragedy? Achebe opens up many zones of discourse on the state, and status of the modern African novel in the context of its discourse of, and contestations with Euro-modernity in its shaping of African realities; the encounter with a global imaginary that provokes questions about new nations and nationalist discourse; the aesthetic and philosophical questions about language; exile and memory; the status of women in the modern African novel, and the question of Africa itself as a thoroughly reified site of European anxieties often thoroughly misrepresented according to the desires of the so-called “Western Imagination.”

A seminar on Achebe is intended to clarify and deepen these conversations, and afford us, hopefully, the resources to understand the fundamental issues around the discourse of Africa through one of its most influential, and indeed some might say, Africa’s most important writer in the modern era. The objective of this class therefore is to open up a hitherto opaque space – the question of the complexity, and validity of the African experience expressed in its literary tradition, and how this tradition engages with itself, in ways that provide us deeper, more complex apprehension of Africa’s modernity. It also poses a challenge to the questions around colonialism and postcolonial theories, and its current relevance to the field. We shall read the following works of Achebe:

  1. Things Fall Apart

  2. Arrow of God

  3. No Longer At Ease

  4. The Education of a British Protected Boy

We shall also read selected essay by Achebe and on Achebe, and hold vigorous discussions on these.

No courses found for Fall 2019.

Course Number Course Title Mode Session Date and Time Syllabus
61021 LIT3931 Topics in World Literature World Wide Web (W) B Unavailable

This course introduces students to world literary masterpieces. It seeks to examine world literature as a field of cross-cultural and transnational systems of thought and production. We will study representative works of world literature from the nineteenth century to the present. We will put into consideration the literary, cultural, and political significance of selected works of a global literary tradition, including women’s writing speaking to a dialogue of the western and the non-western tradition intersecting on the issues of colonialism, nationalism, and self-representation. This class aims to interrogate and expand an understanding of these canonical works in their cultural/ historical contexts and hopefully situate the enduring human values which connect the different literary traditions. We will pay special attention to critical thinking and writing within a framework of cultural theories as well as comparative and interdisciplinary analysis.

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
10327 AFA3104 Black Intellectual Experience Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM Unavailable
No Description Available
11303 AML3614 Topics in African American Lit Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 01:30 PM - 02:45 PM Unavailable

   We can generally situate an African-American literary canon from the achievements of the poet Phyllis Wheatley writing in colonial America, and the slave narratives and fiction of the early to mid-19th century, and the surge of new black expressive culture through the Harlem Renaissance in the twentieth century, down to current or contemporary developments in that culture that is now specifically tagged African-American culture in America. African-American Literature thus occupies a space in the larger culture of a global/ Diasporic Black world that claims its own specific tradition, and thus allows us entry behind the “veil” of African-American culture into centuries of the lived life through the middle passage and beyond. The goal of this course is to at-tempt to answer certain questions raised by the African-American presence in American life through its literature by addressing issues of identity and ethnicity; in other words, looking at the implications of what it means to be “African American” as explored through literature, tied to the larger construct of the relationship between race and art. How does the African-American or Black artist negotiate what Du Bois again concluded to be the “strangeness of being black in America?” At the end of this semester we may come to some understanding of the aesthetic as well as historical, and even political dimensions of African-American literature by examining how African American writers have used different artistic and narrative techniques to raise questions, explore, and even expand the relationship be-tween history and art.

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
81343 AFA3006 The African Diaspora: Theories Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM Unavailable
No Description Available
92134 CRW3311 Readings in Poetry for Crw Mixed-Mode/Reduce Seat-Time(M) Tu 04:30 PM - 05:45 PM Unavailable

   This course is an M course. This means that it is a “mediated” course. We shall have half our class conducted face-to-face, and the other half, on-line.  We will read from a variety of poetry from across the world, that reflects the plurality of the poetic experience and its many traditions.

81751 LIT3931 Topics in World Literature World Wide Web (W) Unavailable

PR: Grade of C (2.0) or better required in ENC 1102

This course introduces students to world literary masterpieces. It seeks to examine world literature as a field of cross-cultural and transnational systems of thought and production. We will study representative works of world literature from the Twentieth century to the present. We will put into consideration the literary, cultural, and political significance of selected works of a global literary tradition, including women’s writing speaking to a dialogue of the western and the non-western tradition intersecting on the issues of colonialism, nationalism, and self-representation. This class aims to interrogate and expand an understanding of these canonical works in their cultural/historical contexts and hopefully situate the enduring human values which connect the different literary traditions. We will pay special attention to critical thinking and writing within a framework of cultural theories as well as comparative and interdisciplinary analysis.

Updated: Dec 6, 2018