By Jamie Taylor, Elizabeth Albright, & Mikey Minihan

Follow this link to listen to Language Wars.

This podcast, entitled “Language Wars,” is presented by MJE podcast productions and focuses on a highly contested debate in postcolonial literature – the role that the language a text is written in plays. Some authors believe that their works should take advantage of the affordances English provides them, some create a hybrid between their native language and English, and some believe that English, because of its widespread use, should be the automatic language of their text. Others, however, argue that the use of the colonizer’s language betrays colonized subjects’ cultures. Thus, this podcast seeks to explore a variety of primary, academic, and theoretical sources to discuss a question: what role does the language that a postcolonial text is written in play? Prominent authors such as Chinua Achebe, Brian Friel, and Wole Soyinka and their texts are examined to serve as primary evidence of how language integrates with texts in this genre and the effect it can have.

This podcast draws from a variety of sources, including Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Wole Soyinka’s “Flowers for my Homeland” and Death and the King’s Horseman, and Brian Friel’s Translations. It references works of postcolonial theoretical texts such as Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Decolonizing the Mind, Salman Rushdie’s “Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist,” and “Composing the Other by Andre Lefevere” from Susan Bassnett’s edited collection entitled Postcolonial Translation Theory and Practice. The podcast simultaneously draws from published academic articles by way of a chapter in Suzy Clarkson Holstein’s “Carrying Across into Silence: Brian Friel’s Translations,” David Huddart’s “Declarations of Linguistic Independence: The Postcolonial Dictionary” in Involuntary Associations: Postcolonial Studies and World Englishes, and Ayo Kehinde’s “English and the Postcolonial Writer’s Burden: Linguistic Innovations in Femi Fatoba’s My ‘Older’ Father and Other Stories,” which is published in the Journal of African Cultural Studies. These sources will be used in the podcast to investigate the role that language plays in postcolonial literature and theory.

*This podcast’s features China Achebe, who is at the center of the language debate, in the midst of writing at his home in Enugu, Nigeria in 1959. The image can be found here.


Elisofon, Eliot. Achebe in Enugu, Nigeria. 1959. Digital image. Africa Is a Country. N.p., 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2017.


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