“Literary Networks and Digital Media in Contemporary African Literatures”
Postcolonial Text, Double Guest Issue 13:3 & 13:4, 2018
The aim of this double guest issue of Postcolonial Text is to examine the notion of network(s) in relation to literary production on the African continent. As a theoretical tool, the notion refers to a complex system of interconnected individuals or institutions, one that often transcends physical borders and that is hard to delineate due to its ever-evolving and shifting nature. If one tends to focus on points of contact or connections, gaps and disconnection are also key in the architecture of a network.
Literary networks developed in Africa and its diaspora in the early 1950s and 1960s, usually around university centers (Makerere, Ibadan, Nsukka), found means of expression through printed periodicals (Black Orpheus, Transition) and brought together writers and artists in clubs or collectives (Mbari Club in Nigeria, ChemChemi Creative Centre in Kenya). Linked to Pan-Africanism and the will to develop and promote African writing on the continent, Anglophone networks connected with writers from the Harlem Renaissance and the Négritude movement, thus extending over continental and linguistic borders. Through events such as Writers’ Conferences, organized on the continent and in metropolitan capitals, key issues facing African writers were debated and discussed.
Thus, African literary networks can be read as both the products and the producers of forms of literary sociability (the University, clubs, conferences) but also as budding literary institutions that published collective works (periodicals) and, in some cases, became publishing houses, giving shape to emerging local literary fields.
If most periodicals from those years have either stopped publication (Black Orpheus) or been delocalized away from the continent (Transition), the early 2000s saw the rise and development of a network of literary magazines and infrastructures all over the continent (Kwani?, Saraba, Bakwa, Chimurenga, Jalada), most of which are linked to digital platforms and networks. The development and rise of the Internet, of social media (Twitter, Facebook) and blogs has indeed offered new platforms and now represent a space where aspiring writers can meet and exchange, fostering new “virtual” networks, which are in varying degrees disconnected from geographical locations. They also offer new possibilities for the emergence of new voices and less formalized genres (Facebook fiction, writers’ blogs). However, digital platforms often work hand in hand with print media and literary events (workshops, festivals).
Among the questions this issue seeks to explore are the following:
– How have new technologies altered the way in which literary networks are built, function and evolve?
– How do those online networks develop to span national, transnational and global spaces?
– How can their connections and disconnections be mapped, and what does this new geography tell us about contemporary literary sociability and the relationship between African literature and World literature at large?
– How do these digital literary practices involve shifting relations to African languages and readerships?
– What type of imagined communities do they contribute to fostering?
– How does digital production function in relation to print, and to processes of legitimization and canonization?
– How are notions such as Pan-africanism, nationalism, or cosmopolitanism explored and redefined through such networks and their literary outputs?
-Can genealogies and (dis)continuities of African literary networks be mapped out across the longue durée of African literary production?
– How are those networks linked to forms of literary activism?
– What new thematic and generic directions do they explore?
– What new theoretical tools are required to read such networks and the literary works they produce?
Submission Procedure and Calendar:
300-word abstracts, along with a short bio-bibliography should be submitted to Aurélie Journo (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 16 March 2018.
After acceptance, full-length articles (6,000 to 8,000 words with Works Cited) should be submitted for review by 29 June 2018.
Authors are requested to follow Postcolonial Text guidelines: http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/about/submissions#authorGuidelines.