Great Expectations

A blog of the Department of English at BGSU:A place for faculty, students and alumni to connect.

The African Boy-Soldier: Gender Damage

Posted by bgsuenglish on November 5, 2012

Painting by Daren Chambers

Narratives about boy-soldiers in Africa constitute a new globally popular genre.  Many of these narratives are written by former child-soldiers attempting to create meaning out of trauma.  However, they tend to reproduce an all-too-familiar set of ideas about Africa as the site of seemingly insoluble disorder and carnage.  The figure of the boy with the gun is shorthand for the failure of the modern African state. Novelists in Nigeria, a country that has not experienced recent warfare, have produced rich fictional accounts of the boy-soldier; these are also stories about damaging initiations into masculinity, in which sexual violation is central.

Dr. Brenna Munro, Associate Professor of English at the University of Miami, will give a lecture entitled “The African Boy-Soldier: Gender Damage,” which takes place at 7:00 p.m. tonight, Monday, November 5, 2012, in 314 BTSU. In her lecture, Dr. Munro will suggest that we must understand the emergence of this queer figure of anti-modernity in the context of the politics of sexuality and stigma, on a thoroughly globalized continent marked by the AIDS epidemic, the rise of rape as a weapon of war, and the emergence of both a new African gay rights discourse and new forms of homophobia. This lecture is free and open to the public. Faculty, graduates, and undergraduates welcome!

Dr, Munro’s publications include the book South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come: Queer Sexuality and the Struggle for Freedom, and articles on “Caster Semenya: Gods and Monsters” in Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies; “Queer Family Romance: Writing the ‘New’ South Africa in the 1990s” in GLQ;  “Letters Lost at Sea: Edwidge Danticat and Orality” in Echoes of the Haitian Revolution 1804-2004; and “Queer Futures: The Coming-Out Novel in South Africa” in  African Literature: An Anthology of Theory and Criticism.

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