Historicism As A Literary Discourse: A Study Of Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty, Elechi Amadi’s Sunset In Biafra And Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy

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Historicism As A Literary Discourse: A Study Of Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty, Elechi Amadi’s Sunset In Biafra And Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy


This study deploys Historicism as a literary discourse to the analysis of the selected writings of Isidore Okpewho, Elechi Amadi and Biyi Bandele. The study argues that Historicism emerged in the 19th Century as a method of investigating how texts of all kinds come to terms with their putative contexts. In spite of this, the application of Historicism to the analysis of texts on the internecine Nigerian Civil War and the reconstruction of the roles of Nigerians in the prosecution of the Second World War has been sparing. This thesis, therefore, demonstrates the applicability of the discourse of historicism to Isidore Okpewho‘s The Last Duty, Elechi Amadi‘s Sunset In Biafra, and Biyi Bandele‘s Burma Boy. It argues that, writing as historicists, these writers appropriate historical events, vicarious and personal experiences, and recorded or documented activities, all of which had hitherto passed into history as past.

Having been refined and reconstituted, these variegated materials appear aesthetically resplendent as novels, as new experiences, conformable to the patterns of literary discourse. This study thus argues that, the novels that emerge from this social process are never complete without relating them to the minutest discourse that shapes them and to which the texts invariably respond. The thesis is divided into four chapters for proper articulation of the discourse. Chapter One is an introduction, which deals with (Conceptual Background, Statement of the Problem, Objectives of the Study, Justification, Scope, Methodology, Historicism and Literature, Assessment Criteria of poetics of historicism, and Literature Review. Chapter Two examines the Reconstruction of
Nigerian Civil War in Isidore Okpewho‘s The Last Duty and Elechi Amadi‘s Sunset In Biafra. Chapter Three deals with the Discourse of Second World War As a Historical Event in Biyi Bandele‘s Burma Boy. And Chapter Four is the concluding chapter.

Chapter One


1.0 Conceptual Background

As Chidi Amuta (1988) puts it, the Nigerian civil war literatures represent a significant step towards the politicization of the Nigerian literary imagination‖.

Similarly the Second World War has also continued to attract intellectual discourse especially by African Scholars on the role played by Africans in its prosecution. Such treatises have often questioned the rationale behind the participation of Africans in a war that was not theirs. However, analysts of the international political system such as Louis J. Halle (1984) and K.J. Holsti (1972), have dubbed the Second World War as the war to end all wars‘ on accounts of its gruesome devastation.

The depiction of the horrors of Second World War has further fuelled the resentment of African intellectuals such as Frantz Fanon, Aime Cessaire against the involvement of Africans.

The two war situations provide the setting for writers to accentuate and articulate the devastation suffered by individuals and societies. As evidenced by historical records and literatures, the two wars occasioned physical suffering and psychological dislocation. However, despite these gruesome effects, the two wars serve as platforms for Africans and Nigerians respectively to reassess their conditions and the means by which they contribute to nation-building, world peace and progress.

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