African Languages and Literatures

Africa has a large number of languages. Based on linguistic principles, language teaching and the application of linguistic theories to African languages are important research aspects of our department. In Addition to language acquisition, we also deal with the recognition of linguistic structures and language-genealogical relationships as well as the study of concepts of linguistic behaviour.  

Multilingualism as a superordinate topic combines different (socio-)linguistic research approaches at the department. Thus, in studies on language contact and language change, influences on linguistc structures in the context of social, political and historical transformation are analyzed. Sociolinguistic research approaches address questions about language policy, attitudes of the speakers and language ideologies. In addition, questions about African diaspora and translocal language repertoires are becoming increasingly important at our department.

A prerequisite for the intensive study of African languages is a close scientific cooperation with colleagues and institutions in various African countries. There are contacts in research and teaching to universities in Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso as well as to African linguists worldwide.

African literatures in its diversity and in its different forms of expression are at the focus of literary studies at our department. Literature is understood as a medium and a cultural space in which language and history meet. For this reason, literary studies is concerned with depictions of social processes as well as linguistic strategies and the use of aesthetic means and forms in African literatures.

Subjects in research and teaching include literary history, postcolonial studies, identity constructions, narration and memory, oral literature, the relationship between literality and orality and interculturality. In addition, the study of African literatures in Europe means a continual examination of Western interpretations, of the imperialist heritage in the discourse on Africa and of stereotypical reception patterns.

The range of African literatures is conveyed on the one hand regionally, linguistically and nationally, on the other hand in the different genres - from lyric poetry, theater and narrative literature to film and popular culture in African and European languages. 

Professor of African Languages and Literatures:
Prof. Dr. Adams BODOMO