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April 23rd, 3:30 – 5 PM, Location TBA

April 23rd, 3:30 – 5 PM, RP 909

The African city has emerged as a robust site of intellectual work in literary criticism and cultural studies in the past two decades. This scholarship has emphasized the city’s precarity and creativity; formality and informality; the intersection of the local and transnational; and of the interaction of the rural and urban across the continent. Performativity is also a crucial element of the African city, which is seen as site of self-making and image laundering within this growing corpus. Overall, recent work on African cities has centered a poetics of the city concentrating on the image and agency of urban residents across Africa. But what if we shift attention from the poetics of the city to the poetics for the city? This lecture explores the dynamics of this prepositional shift, drawing examples from African literature, with attention to their larger significance for the relationship between resource extraction, African storytelling, and worlding of literature. 

Cajetan Iheka is Professor of English at Yale University, specializing in African and Caribbean literatures, ecocriticism, ecomedia, and the environmental humanities. He serves as Director of the Whitney Humanities Center, Chair of the Council on African Studies, and Head of the Africa Initiative at Yale.

He is the author of Naturalizing Africa: Ecological Violence, Agency, and Postcolonial Resistance in African Literature(Cambridge University Press, 2018), winner of the 2019 Ecocriticism Book Award of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and the 2020 First Book Prize of the African Literature Association. His latest book is African Ecomedia: Network Forms, Planetary Politics (Duke University Press, 2021). The book garnered seven awards including the 2022 African Studies Association Best Book Prize, the 2022 Ecocriticism Book Award of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and the 2023 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for Best Book in Environmental Studies from the International Studies Association. Professor Iheka is the Editor-in-Chief of African Studies Review, the multidisciplinary journal of the African Studies Association.