African States in Literature

African States in Literature

Randy J. Sparks: The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey

African states exist not only as the subjects of scholarly inquiry, but also as lived realities for Africans and non-Africans alike. In this short (1000-1200 word) book report, you will assess how a book depicts the African state within which it is set. What is the ‘footprint’ of the state? How is its presence felt by the protagonists? What do they say (or, what could they say) about living under the state? An ‘A’ grade paper will use not only the material present in the book being reviewed, but also some additional original research, to assess the protagonists’ claims and the apparent truths they contain. You must explain how the state in the book you read *makes its presence felt* in the lives of the book’s characters; in other words, what do you ‘see’ as a reader when you ‘see’ the state functioning in your book? Of course, the short answer to that question is always going to be ‘institutions’ – but which institutions, operating in what way, and of what type (i.e. Coercive, Religious, Environmental, Economic, a blend, none of the above?). Remember that this assignment is not a book summary; it is an exercise in parsing a dense and complex collection of data in an attempt to write a ‘biography’ of an African state.
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