Corresponding with the city: self-help literature in urban West Africa

Newell, Stephanie (2008) Corresponding with the city: self-help literature in urban West Africa. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 44 (1). pp. 15-27. ISSN 1744-9855

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Contemporary West African self-help literature is preoccupied with the theme of marriage. The reader's correct choice of marriage partner and subsequent happiness in the home are fundamental concerns of the genre. This article asks about the extent to which locally published self-help literature - and popular literature more generally - is inseparable from urbanization in West Africa. Do these pamphlets arise as a direct consequence of urbanization in the late 20th century? What kind of self is produced to be helped in this literature? In addressing these questions, the article situates locally published self-help literature in relation to recent theorizations of urbanization and popular culture in Africa, and in relation to the fierce current debate about the usefulness of modernity as a term to describe postcolonial urban cultures. Popular misogyny is also addressed, and the controlling role played by God in West African discussions of marriage and relationships. The article suggests that the authors of self-help pamphlets in West Africa can be regarded as urban correspondents, corresponding with the city as its writers, its products and its cultural echoes.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Depositing User: Steph Newell
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:46
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2012 09:10
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