This assignment asks you to research the life and work of Chinua Achebe, a major figure in African literature, and write a formal paper that relates his life and that of his people, the Ibo, to his most famous novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), written at the very end of the British colonial period.
Write a paper that answers the
following two questions:
1. How has Achebe’s life and Ibo culture shaped the story, the book’s point of view, and
2. What is the book’s historical significance?
Your answer to these questions or the answers to the question you pose about your own topic
will be your paper’s thesis, which you should state in one or two sentences within the first paragraph of your paper. You will need to investigate and document British imperialism and its
effects in West Africa, especially in Nigeria, from ca. 1890 to 1960. You will also need to research and document Ibo culture, the educational and cultural system established by the
British, Chinua Achebe’s life and his reactions to British educational and cultural norms. Finally, you will need to examine how the novel presents Achebe’s (and the Ibo’s) responses to British imperialism.
Your essay must be the result of independent research on your part. All of the sources you use and cite must be the result of library research and Internet research on your part.
Cliff Notes and other such study guide pamphlets do not count as serious historical sources, nor do textbooks.
Here is a hint to get you started: In an interview in the 1994-95 issue of The Paris Review,
Achebe stated that he became a writer so he could tell his story and the story of his people from an indigenous viewpoint. He explained the problem of having one’s story told only by others by citing the following proverb: “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
The paper should be 6-7 doublespaced typed pages with standard one-inch margins.
Your paper must use at least four (4) separate sources on Chinua Achebe and/or Things Fall Apart. Of these sources, at least two (2) must be journal articles from a University Librarys ejournals collections. You can use websites or encyclopedia articles on Achebe and/or Things Fall Apart as sources for your paper but you may use no more than two altogether (i.e., two
websites or two encyclopedia articles or one website and one encyclopedia article).
Finally, the standard bibliographical citation style in the discipline of history is Chicago, but if you are already familiar with either the MLA or the APA style, you can use one of those instead.