ALA Lecture Series

The ALA Lecture Series presents: 

"Tragedy and African Literature: Concepts and Representations"


Ato Quayson

Professor Department of English - Stanford University


Friday September 25th, 2020 at 11:00 AM EST

Join us on the ALA YouTube Channel



Suffering is depicted in African literature, but is it tragic? Drawing on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks, and the Akan concept of musuo (harms to the soul), I will argue that we see African tragedy as entailed in the ambiguation of attitudes to one's own past, and, secondly, in the perception of the assault on one's sense of self-integration. Unlike Western theories of tragedy, catastrophe is not always central in African literature. The talk will be aimed at defining methodological procedures with which we describe tragedy in the African literary tradition.


Ato Quayson received his BA at the University of Ghana, his Ph.D. from University of Cambridge, and has taught at Cambridge, New York University, University of Toronto, and Stanford University. He is the author of five monographs including Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Writing Calibrations Aesthetic Nervousness, Oxford Street, Accra and the African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory.