The Afropolitan Flâneur in Literature by Dr Carol Leff

Dr Carol Leff, an Intersecting Diasporas Group member, who has just had a book published
Dr Carol Leff, an Intersecting Diasporas Group member, who has just had a book published

"This timely study engages in the Afropolitan debate via the streets of the literary city. It first provides a historical and theoretical framework to illustrate how the literary flâneur—an aimless wanderer of the city—migrated from Europe to Africa and the diaspora, and how this figure is to be understood in relation to current considerations of Afropolitanism.

The literary analysis focuses on texts set in three cities in Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Lagos), as well as three global north cities (New York, Paris, and London), considered through the eyes of various types of Afropolitan flâneur. By problematising the binaries of local/global, national/transnational, black/white, and slum/paradise, this book addresses issues of belonging or not belonging, and gestures towards new ways of understanding what it means to be an African in the world today."

The Afropolitan Flâneur in Literature - Cambridge Scholars Publishing

 

Carol Leff obtained a BA degree from Wits University in 1983, and only returned to academia in 2010 where she completed her Honours, Masters and a PhD at Rhodes University while working full-time. Leff works at the Institute for the Study of the Englishes of Africa (ISEA) and moonlights as a teacher and supervisor in the MA in Creative Writing at the School of Languages and Literatures at Rhodes University. Her area of interest is contemporary writing in and of Africa and the African diaspora, specifically regarding the transnational subjectivities represented in such literature. While she was a PhD candidate in the Department of Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University, Leff was also a member of the Intersecting Diasporas Group which focuses on transnational subjectivities in diasporic literature.

In 2019, under the supervision of Prof Sam Naidu, Leff graduated with her PhD titled “The Afropolitan Flâneur: Literary Representations of the City and Contemporary Urban Identities in Selected African and Transnational Texts.” A year later, during the worldwide lockdown, she went on to produce a book manuscript from that dissertation. The Afropolitan Flâneur in Literature is now due for release by Cambridge Scholars Publishing on 1 July 2022.

Leff’s timely study engages in the Afropolitan debate via the streets of the literary city. It first provides a historical and theoretical framework to illustrate how the literary flâneur—an aimless wanderer of the city—migrated from Europe to Africa and the diaspora, and how this figure is to be understood in relation to current considerations of Afropolitanism.

The literary analysis considers several primary texts by a range of writers: Chris Abani, Biyi Bandele, A. Igoni Barrett, Teju Cole, K. Sello Duiker, Mark Gevisser, Alain Mabanckou, Phaswane Mpe, Yewande Omotoso, Patricia Schonstein-Pinnock and Ivan Vladislavić.

Published between 1999 and 2015, by six African and six non-African publishers, this selection of texts is an archive of both the African and non-African literary city. The geographical focus falls on three cities in Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Lagos), as well as three global north cities (New York, Paris, and London). Each of the three novels discussed per chapter features a flâneur figure who reflects the intricacies of human subjectivity in the urban cityscape.

By problematising the binaries of local/global, national/transnational, black/white, slum/paradise, The Afropolitan Flâneur in Literature addresses issues of belonging or not belonging and gestures towards new ways of understanding what it means to be an African in the world today.

Leff has published journal articles and book chapters, both academic and creative, and is the author of flashes, a collection of poetry.

Source: