Now Upon a Time: How African Folktales Speak to the Present and Beyond
6th December 2016
In this lecture I look at ways in which the content and form of Ghanaian folktales are being subverted to reflect the narrators’ lived realities (or their dreams) and to articulate their ideological perceptions. The revised stories feature (1) open-ended plots that break the presumed “stylistic consistency” of the folktale and (2) characters who inscribe themselves onto a ‘modern’ scene which is a far cry from the fantasy world typically associated with the folktale. I examine how these features challenge long held views in narratology, especially as they pertain to the narrative subject—views which have resulted in a shift in literary studies away from narrative grammar in search of a pragmatics of narrative. Furthermore, given that folktale studies have provided a site for the construction and demonstration of literary and cultural paradigms, my analysis of the Ghanaian folktales will form a basis for exploring the potential of this genre for generating new directions in African studies, particularly with regard to dismantling the foundations of the seemingly intractable colonizing epistemological order that has held sway within the discipline.
Helen Atawube Yitah
Main Research Interests
- Gender Identity in Oral and Written African Literature
- African American and American Literature
- Eighteenth Century British Literature
- Practice in Criticism
- With Gordon Adika, George Ossom-Batsa: New Perspectives on African Humanity: Beliefs, Values & Artistic Expression. Accra: Adwinsa Publications, 2014.
- After the Ceremonies: New and Selected Poems by Ama Ata Aidoo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
- Critical Readings of Faceless. Accra: Sub-saharan Publishers, 2014.
- Throwing Stones in Jest: Kasena Women’s Proverbial Revolt. Saabrücken: Lambert Academic Publishers, 2011.