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English 334 - Nervous Conditions questions

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English 334: African Woman Writers
Questions for discussion – Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Please provide textual evidence for all answers.
1) What are the various "nervous conditions" exhibited in the novel and its characters?
2) What are the impoverishing and empowering effects of formal schooling in English on
the novel's characters?
3) Which character in the novel is most affected by "Englishness" and why? What is the
novel's view on "Englishness"? How is this reflected (or not) in the novel's writing style?
4) In the opening of the novel, Tambu retrospectively claims that she has "escaped." Has
Tambu escaped by the end of the novel? What has she escaped? How has she escaped?
And what does "escape" here mean?
5) In “Melancholic Women: The Intellectual Hysteric(s) in Nervous Conditions,” (Research
in African Literatures,Vol. 26, No. 2, 1995. 130-139) Supriya Nair asserts that "rather
than lamenting Tambu's 'selling out' to the forces of bourgeois capital" we should
"historicize her decision and underline it as a determined choice to transform the
homestead while at the same time being aware of her limited options" (135). Do we see
Tambu as "selling out," embracing colonial ideals? Do we dislike her for it?
6) How do the various male and female characters perform their masculinity or femininity
and where are these gender dichotomies and performances blurred and undermined?
Why? To what effect?