Apollo Amoko

Associate Professor

Apollo O. Amoko received his PhD in English Language and Literature from University of Michigan. His teaching and research interests are postcolonial theory and literatures (with specific emphasis on African literature), critical theory, cultural studies (race, gender and sexuality studies), ethnic literatures of Canada and the United States, and modern drama. He has published numerous essays in such journals as Modern Drama, Callaloo, Mosaic, and Research in African Literatures.  He was the author of a chapter on race and postcoloniality for The Routledge Campanion to Critical Theory (2006) and a chapter on Autobiography and Bildungsroman for The Cambridge Campanion to African Literature (2009).

Postcolonialism in the Wake of the Nairobi Revolution, his first book, will be published by Palgrave in October 2010. The book examines the emergence of modern African literature as both a creative practice and an academic discipline. Building on the work of John Guillory and Pierre Bourdieu, it traces the connection between the concept of “representation” as the foundational trope in contemporary aesthetic inquiry and the concept of “representation” in contemporary democratic thought. With specific reference to African literature, it examines the relationship popularly imagined between institutions of literature and the processes of nationalist legitimation, that is, between colonial and postcolonial school cultures, on the one hand, and national cultures, on the other. The book takes as its point of departure the successful movement led by Ngugi wa Thiong’o that resulted in the abolition of the English department at the University of Nairobi in the late 1960s and the establishment of an Afrocentric department of literature in English. A signal – but instructively problematic – moment in the constitution of African literature, this movement has, rather uncritically, come to be celebrated in romantic nationalist terms as the Nairobi Revolution in English literature.

Amoko’s second book project examines the deployment of sexuality in late colonial and postcolonial African literature and the figuration of the father as the embodiment of an increasingly beleaguered patriarchal tradition. It addresses, for example, the anxious and tragic performance of traditional masculinity by the protagonist in Chinua Achebe’s foundational novel Things Fall Apart in sharp contrast to the “unwarranted improvisations” and “gender performances out of turn” enacted by, on the one hand, effeminate male characters like the protagonist’s much maligned father and son and, on the other hand, his masculine daughter and subversive second wife. Following Judith Butler, the book examines gender trouble in the postcolony.

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