Approaches to Teaching Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

  • Editor: Bernth Lindfors
  • Pages: x & 145 pp.
  • Published: 1991
  • ISBN: 9780873525473 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873525480 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Achebe's Things Fall Apart Cover

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, with sales exceeding three million copies, is one of the most widely read works of contemporary fiction. A classic of African literature, it is taught in college courses ranging from graduate seminars in English and comparative literature to undergraduate offerings in English, history, ethnic studies, anthropology, folklore, and political science; it is also studied in high school literature and social studies classes. Yet teaching such a book presents special problems; Things Fall Apart is rooted in African social and historical realities that are often unfamiliar to North American readers. This collection of essays, all written by experienced teachers, aims to help instructors introduce students to the rich cultural background of the novel as well as to its narrative and structural complexities.

Like other books in the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, this volume is divided into two parts. Part 1, “Materials,” surveys biographical sources and interviews, background studies, critical commentaries, films based on Things Fall Apart, and other instructional aids. In part 2, “Approaches,” sixteen contributors describe strategies they have used to teach Achebe’s work. Several essays were solicited from eminent African scholars who, having taught abroad, know firsthand the challenges of conveying cross-cultural understanding through African literature. The volume features an introductory statement by Chinua Achebe, in which he comments on the responses his novel has elicited from readers around the world and offers advice on probing the significance of the story.