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Oed, Anja (2002) Antelope (woman) and buffalo (woman) : Contemporary literary transformations of a topos in Yoruba culture. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores four contemporary literary transformations of the topos of agbonrin and efon, antelope (woman) and buffalo (woman) respectively, in D.O. Fagunwa's Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale and Igbo Olodumare, Amos Tutuola's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Mobolaji Adenubi's "The Importance of Being Prudent", and Ben Okri's three abiku narratives. The Famished Road, Songs of Enchantment, and Infinite Riches. The introductory chapter raises theoretical issues regarding the notion of a topos itself and examines how these resonate with central Yoruba concepts. Furthermore, it provides an overview of Yoruba cultural beliefs associated with the figures of antelope (woman) and buffalo (woman) and comments on contemporary literary transformations of this topos in general. Each of the consecutive chapters represents an in-depth analysis and interpretation of one contemporary author's literary transformation of the topos of antelope (woman) and/or buffalo (woman). By putting each writer's deployment of the motif of agbonrin and efon in a biographical, historical and socio-cultural perspective, I explore how he or she - more or less consciously - invests it with new meanings and, in the process, transforms it, and how the topos of antelope (woman) and buffalo (woman) thus comes to serve manifold symbolic or metaphoric purposes, reflecting on and expressing a whole range of issues. Not only is the topos as such continuous beyond the precolonial period but it also assumes a new relevance with respect to the socio-cultural and political anxieties generated in the colonial and post-colonial climates. The contemporary literary transformations explored in this thesis all mediate and negotiate personal, socio-cultural and political anxieties in the wake of sustained contact with the West, especially through Christian missionary activity and colonialism. The thematisation of gender relations plays an important symbolic, metaphoric and metonymic role in this respect, since the way in which each writer's literary transformation of the motif of agbonrin and efon relates to the issue of women and female agency in Yoruba culture, or, more generally, in Nigerian culture, is an important means of communicating and conceptualising change.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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