Scholar of Women Writers of the Global South, Susan Andrade, Retires

Susan Z. Andrade, associate professor of English, is retiring. She completed her PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan in 1992 with a dissertation entitled “African Fictions and Feminisms: Making History and Remaking Traditions.” At Pitt, she taught a wide range of courses, most notably in the fields of world literature, modernism, and postcolonial literature. She brought dozens of new writers—in particular, novelists in translation from the Global South and from Anglophone and Francophone Africa—to classrooms in the English department. Her graduate students ranged similarly and even further, in fact, in their interests, from South Asian novels to speculative and climate fictions.

Susan Andrade is brown woman with chin-length black hair sitting at an outdoor patio table, green leaves in backgroundAndrade’s scholarship is highlighted by her monograph The Nation Writ Small: African Fictions and Feminisms,1958-1988 (Duke University Press, 2011). In this book, Andrade studies, as she explains, “the work of Africa’s first post-independence generation of novelists, explaining why male writers came to be seen as the voice of Africa’s new nation-states, and why African women writers’ commentary on national politics was overlooked.” She turns the focus instead to women novelists and argues that they contested the national political scene through allegorical modes of writing, as the works of both female and male writers such as Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta, Ousmane Sembène, Mariama Bâ, Aminata Sow Fall, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nuruddin Farah, and Assia Djebar all come to reveal. The book received praise from many reviewers. Simon Gikandi wrote, “The Nation Writ Small is a brilliant work, feminist and literary scholarship of the highest order. It is a superb reading of the relationship between gender and nationalism in postcolonial African literature and culture, based on Susan Z. Andrade’s deep knowledge of African texts and cultural politics.” Monica Popescu agreed that “The Nation Writ Small illustrates the enriched forms of literary scholarship that can emerge when we read simultaneously for form and theme while continuously verifying these analytical objects against the historiography of the respective literary tradition." And Heather Hewett noted that “in her discussion of postindependence fiction (which includes texts published in both English and French), Andrade complicates a dominant story that still widely informs understandings of the development of African fiction.”

Susan Andrade surrounded this book with a host of articles, such as “Subject to Colonialism: African Self-Fashioning and the Colonial Library” (2003), “The Problem of Realism and African Fiction” (2009), “Adichie’s Genealogies: National and Feminine Novels” (2011), and “Realism, Reception, 1968, and West Africa” (2012). She also took a more wide-angle view of the field through Gayatri Spivak’s commentaries in her short piece “Influences: Death of a Discipline and African Literary Studies,” published in PMLA in 2008. In 2001, she was one of the guest co-editors for a special issue of the journal Atlantic Cross-Currents: Transatlantiques aimed at bringing together much thought on the contemporary state of the field of African literary studies.

Andrade was awarded a Senior Scholar Fulbright-Nehru Award to Christ University in India in 2013 to study one of her abiding interests: realism and its political effects. She was elected the following year as a member of the MLA Executive Division of African Literature post-1900. Across her career, she gave many invited lectures and seminars in many places around the world and in many sites in the U.S.

—Gayle Rogers


Photo: TribLive, 2013

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