Afawerk’s ‘Tobbya’: Ethiopia’s First Realist Novel or Simple Folktale?

This blog post is among the winners of the Department of Comparative Literatures’s 2020-2021 Blog Award for the module 6ABA0013 ‘Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in Global Cultural Studies’. Congratulations to Giovanna Demopoulos for winning the award!

For too long have critics of Afawerk Gabre Yesus’ Tobbya (1908) reduced it down to either a ‘folktale’ or tried to cast it as a failed attempt at a realist novel in Amharic. In agreement with Admassu, neither critique acknowledges the context in which the text was written, let alone the intricacy and groundbreaking nature of the text. Considering the text was originally meant as a language textbook for Italian students studying Amharic at the Oriental University in Naples, Tobbya goes well beyond what was needed of a textbook and becomes a beautiful fusion of linguistic exercise and multiple genres.

Tobbya initially focuses on a Christian general who is taken as a slave after the failure of a Christian King’s war against the ‘Pagans’. The general’s family decides to try and save enough money for his selling price. While trying to find employment, Wahid, the general’s son, encounters a merchant and regails him with his sorrowful tale. Later, the unnamed general returns home, leaving the family to conclude that the unknown merchant has paid for the general’s freedom. Swearing never to come back until he finds this nameless merchant, Wahid leaves home only to be captured as a slave. Deciding to search for their newly lost family member, the ex-general and his daughter, Tobbya, leave home. Of course, Tobbya is disguised as a boy. On their travels, they get captured by a ‘Pagan’ King in the process of laying waste to more Christian land. However, taking a liking to Tobbya, the King calls off his war and eventually integrates her family into his aristocratic ranks before swearing to find Wahid. After the King’s cousin develops feelings for Tobbya which she cannot return, she reveals herself to be a woman. Consequently, the King falls in love with her. Once Wahid and the mysterious merchant happen to be found, the King proposes to Tobbya. She denies his proposal until he promptly converts to Christianity. Tobbya marries the converted King, Wahid marries the King’s cousin, and a previously divided Ethiopia is united under Christian rule.

There is no doubt that the plot of Tobbya follows a ‘tale-like simplicity’. Still, Luigi Fusella and Wright are overly harsh when they say the text is ‘naive’ and full of ‘unnecessary originalities’. A trained critic cannot wish away ‘unnecessary’ sections from a text; one works with the material they are given. Given the context in which the text was written, its standing as a piece of literature produced by the transnationalist, modern interaction of Italian and Ethiopian cultures already makes it deeply fascinating. If one believes Bahru Zewde’s statement that few other Ethiopians wrote with such a ‘wealth of vocabulary’, the text is also an immense feat for the Amharic language. The text’s plot lives up to its beautiful original title, Ləbb Wälläd Tarik (‘story born out of the heart’), in that it revolutionises traditional history by imagining it as a more emotional story involving individuals one can sympathize with. Complex characters further the story’s fascinating nature; Tobbya is an androgynous character able to use masculinity and femininity when it suits her to rise above her station. Tobbya is even willing to put her own needs and religion ahead of everyone else’s as she tactfully rejects a King’s proposal despite even her father worrying about this. The intelligent characters and strong female protagonist who goes through repeated changes of heart are immensely captivating. Thus, as a piece of literature, Tobbya introduces one to a culture with very captivating characters only beginning to be unpicked by academics, like Dr. Serawit Bekele Debele.

Yet, critics of the text who label it just a ‘child’s tale’ or ‘simple folktale’ need be asked what is so derogatory about these labels? Even if one agrees with the features that Tolossa argues most folktales have, one must interrogate whether traits like ‘fantasy and miracle’ or ‘a happy ending’ make Tobbya a lesser work. For a story with such strong religious and national implications, I would propose there is power in a plot that harks back to traditional styles like a child’s tale or folktale. After all, the strengths of these genres include a plot that is able to be passed on in beautiful oral style, something that seems conducive for a text that could introduce many Westerners to Ethiopian culture. Regardless, the text clearly takes fluidly from other genres, ranging from tales to psychological and novelistic traits, as exemplified in Wahid’s emotional encounter with an imagined lion.

Ultimately, there is a beauty in Tobbya’s reluctance to name specific details; we never find out what happens to Wahid’s mother or those who helped Wahid. In this way, Tobbya allows us to imagine and insert a piece of ourselves into its gaps in a way that means we add a bit of our own hearts and our own emotions to the mythological, genre-defying story.


Bibliography

Admassu, Yonas, ‘The First-born of amharic Fiction’, in Silence Is Not Golden: A Critical Anthology of Ethiopian Literature, ed. by Taddesse Adera & Ali Jimale Ahmed (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1995), pp. 93-112.

Gabre Yesus, Afawerk, ‘Tobbya’, trans. by Tadesse Tamrat, Ethiopian Observer, 8 (1964), 242-267.

Tolossa, Fikre, ‘Realism and Amharic Literature’, (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Bremen, 1983).

Giovanna Demopoulos is a Comparative Literature student going into their third year and looking to work in academia. They are most fascinated by texts surrounding nationalism, cultural hybridism, and otherization.

What The ‘Hatata’ can Teach us About the Origin of Modernity

This blog post is among the winners of the Department of Comparative Literatures’s 2020-2021 Blog Award for the module 6ABA0013 ‘Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in Global Cultural Studies’. Congratulations to Isabelle Ragnetti for winning the award!


What do you think about when you think about the Enlightenment? I clearly remember one day in high school when we had to come to history class dressed up in eighteenth-century costumes to attend a pretend French salon of the 18th century.

Our task was to discuss the ideas of the major philosophers of the Enlightenment that we learned about in class: Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and others. But Zera Yacob was not among them. Actually, no non-European philosopher was. With its ideas of reason, democracy, rationalism, and freedom, the Enlightenment marks the beginning of the modern era. If this modernity was global, shouldn’t we focus on non-European philosophers as well? The salon exercise instilled in me the idea that the Enlightenment was born in Europe. I believed that modernity grew among the European elites who discussed the modern intellectual ideas. However, reading Yacob’s Hatata showed me that modernity is actually not only a product of European thought.

Zera Yacob’s Hatata

Zera Yacob was born in Aksum, Ethiopia, in 1599, and died in 1692. He developed the ideas for the Hatata while living in a cave for two years, probably between 1630 and 1632, to hide from the Catholic Emperor Susenyos. He then wrote the Hatata (ሓተታ), which means ‘inquiry’ or ‘investigation’, in 1667. It is a philosophical treatise and an autobiography which explores modern ideals such as rationalism and reason. One of the ideas that Yacob focuses on is rationality as equaliser. He writes that all humans are equal because they  all have intelligence (12). Furthermore, he writes that we should use reason to find the truth (14). These ideas are not very different from those of the French philosophes such as Descartes and Voltaire. Yacob actually writes a few years before them, and it is most likely that he did not read European philosophical texts during his lifetime. But how is it possible that they had such similar ideas while living in different parts of the world?

Diffusionism and Eurocentrism

Diffusionism is the most widely accepted perspective about the origin of modernity. The diffusionist perspective argues that modernity originated in Europe and then was diffused to the rest of the world. This perspective is deeply Eurocentric, as it sees Europe as the only centre of modernity. My high school French salon exercise is a clear example of Eurocentrism, because it presents the Enlightenment as a purely European phenomenon. Eurocentrism assumes that Europe had special qualities that led to the development of modernity that other countries did not have. Max Weber, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), argues that there is a “specific and peculiar rationalism of Western culture” (xxxviii) that led to the rise of modernity. If Europe had such special qualities, how is it possible that Zera Yacob, in Ethiopia, could have had such similar ideas to his French contemporaries? The diffusionism model also implies that Europe is the only place that could reach the ideas of modernity with no outside influence. Through this belief, it implies that other countries did not have the ability to develop ideas. However, Yacob developed his ideas in Ethiopia – this means that we should look at modernity from a different perspective. The co-constitution model provides us with a perspective that rejects diffusionism and Eurocentrism.

Co-constitution

The co-constitution perspective essentially argues that modernity was globally co-produced. This means that modernity is a product of thinkers all over the world, not just of European intellectuals. In his 2012 article ‘Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique’ Sebastian Conrad explains that the Enlightenment had many authors from different places and that it resulted from global interactions (1001). Thinkers all over the world were responding to the same global issues. This explains how Yacob and Voltaire had similar ideas despite living in different places and not knowing each other. They were connected because they responded to the same events that happened in the world during their time. He argues that the history of the Enlightenment should not be concerned with finding its origin, but that it should focus on the global synchronicity that created it (1027). Conrad tells us that it is only trough this process of co-production that modernity exists as it is (1027). You can learn more about his arguments through this article and by watching Conrad’s NYU lecture. Conrad’s article cites Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s quote saying that modernity is “historically a global and conjunctural phenomenon, not a virus that spreads from one place to another” (1008). We can think of diffusionism through the metaphor of the virus: the belief that modernity, like Covid-19, originated in one place (Europe) and then spread around the world.On the contrary, co-constitution imagines that the same virus has emerged at the same time in different places. Ultimately, we must abandon Eurocentric perspectives to be able to see that modernity was created by authors from all over the world alongside the Europeans.


Bibliography

Max Weber 1905, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, ‘Introduction’.

Sebastian Conrad 2012, ‘Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique’. The American Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 4, pp. 999–1027.

Zära Yaḳob 1667, Hatäta (‘Inquiry’). Trans. Claude Sumner 1976, Ethiopian Philosophy, vol. II: The Treatise of Zara Yaecob and Walda Hewat, Text and Authorship. Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing Press.

Isabelle Ragnetti is a third-year Liberal Arts student majoring in Comparative Literature and minoring in Politics. Growing up across different countries, she became passionate about encountering different cultures from across the world through the numerous texts studied in comparative literature. She is most interested in finding the connections between literature, history and politics. She will explore the ideas of nationalism, cultural belonging and identity in more depth through her dissertation.

Female agency, empire, and the first Amharic novel: Afevork Ghevre Jesus’ Tobbya

This blog post is among the winners of the Department of Comparative Literatures’s 2020-2021 Blog Award for the module 6ABA0013 ‘Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in Global Cultural Studies’. Congratulations to Oliwia Majchrowska for winning the award!

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the predominantly Christian and Amharic community of the Ethiopian highlands stands on the cusp of transformation. The territorial expansion in Oromo lands combined with the revival of Red Sea trade routes diversify the empire, bringing an influx of people who are neither Christian nor speak Amharic. In 1908 when things still remain uncertain, Afewark Gebre Iyasus publishes Ləbb Wälläd Tarik (“Tobbya”), a book in which it is the female character who intervenes in the fate of the war-torn Ethiopian kingdom. ‘All believed in Christ because of a woman’ (p. 266), writes the author, singling out female agency among the unrest, warfare, and violence in Ethiopia’s first-ever Amharic-language novel.

Tobbya responds to the religious tensions that disturbed the country following its expansion over Muslim regions initiated by Emperor Menelik’s reforms. Set indefinitely at the beginning of the Christian era, the book opens with the incursion of pagans into a Christian land wherein the less numerous community fails to resist the invader. After the ignominious defeat culminating in the king’s death, the only Christian general who survives the attack is sold into slavery. In what follows, Afewark weaves the unpredictable incidents of separation and reunion into the journey of the general’s son, Wahid, who attempts to rescue his father and, in due course, pay respect to those who help him along the way.

The European narratives have established a firm link between masculinity and heroism, but in Afewark’s novel, it is not Wahid who saves the empire but his sister Tobbya. The latter part of the book focuses on the heroine and her father’s encounter with the pagan army, taking place during the journey they undertake to find Wahid after a period of prolonged absence. Tobbya, disguised as a boy, plays a vital role in liberating the Christian community. It is the sight of her sorrow that impacts the pagan king’s decision to suspend warfare and endorse freedom of faith.

Afewark explores questions germane to moments of national transformation – religious identity and virtues, assimilation versus diversity, mutual understanding of communities and their limits – but it is the choice to associate those issues with the agency of a female character that makes the narrative of Tobbya multilayered and incisive. As we observe the pagan king converting to Christianity, especially to marry Tobbya, the novel not only conceives Ethiopia’s future in terms of a community rehabilitated by the Christian faith. By casting the heroine as a catalyst of change, it also offers a way to reimagine female subjectivity beyond normative representations of women in fiction.

In defiance of a unified narrative-arc, Tobbya thrives upon the multitude of turning points and coincidences that continually shift focus within the story. The most peculiar among them includes the general’s return home just after the narrative explicates Wahid’s difficulties in raising the money for a ransom. The unexpected plot point goes back to Wahid’s incidental meeting with a merchant who, as it turns out, decided to pay ransom for the general although the two of them never met. Pieced together, the unpredicted events compose a unique family portrait in which individual fortunes remain in a constant dialogue with dynamics of nation-building. Yet, for many critics, the bizarre qualities of the plot were synonymous with the ‘tale-like simplicity’ (Admassu, p. 96) and the status of Tobbya as a novel has long been undermined.

Fikre Tolossa argues that a scarce number of ‘truthful details’ such as concrete time and place make Tobbya incongruent with requirements of the novel as a genre (p. 62). Claiming that the book does not portray Ethiopia in a realistic vein, the scholar advocates to interpret Tobbya as a folktale. Afewark indeed refrains from explicitly defining the time and setting in his story, also blurring the line between the concrete geography and the land as an object of Wahid’s imagination. But even if Tobbya does not faithfully mirror the reality, is it enough of an argument to simply label it as a folktale?

The Western culture tends to see the realist mode of representation as a prerequisite for classifying the literary work as a novel. In light of Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis that associates realism with the most mature form of representation and attributes its invention to Europe, the non-Western works become reduced to the rank of ones that merely adopted influences from abroad. But Tobbya proves too progressive and multifaceted to be viewed through the lens of this model.

The book operates on multiple levels. The revival of the country’s religious history, imagining its future and probing universal questions about human abilities to confront the ‘other’ constitute just a few of the many dimensions Afewark investigates. Complicating the notion of a genre and challenging normative representations of gender, Tobbya begs to be seen as a phenomenon of its own: a prime work within the history of Amharic literature that defies clear-cut categorizations.


Bibliography:

Admassu, Yonas, ‘The First-born of Amharic Fiction’ in Taddesse Adera & Ali Jimale Ahmed (eds.) Silence Is Not Golden: A Critical Anthology of Ethiopian Literature. (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1995),

Iyasus, Afewark Gebre, Lebb Welled Tarik (“Story of the heart”), Rome, 1908 (translated into English by Taddesse Tamrat, “Tobbya”, Ethiopian Observer VIII, 1964, pp. 242-267),

Tolossa, Fikre, ‘Realism and Amharic Literature’, PhD Dissertation, University of Bremen, 1983.

Oliwia Majchrowska is a third-year student of Comparative Literature from Poland. She is particularly interested in contemporary poetry and American novels of the latter half of the twentieth century. Her favorite book of all time is probably 4321 by Paul Auster. She intends to continue studying Comparative Literature upon graduation from King’s.

Modernity; What is it and who made it?

This blog post is among the winners of the Department of Comparative Literatures’s 2020-2021 Blog Award for the module 6ABA0013 ‘Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in Global Cultural Studies’. Congratulations to Gloria Luz Pajares Tamayo for winning the award!


Britannica defines modernity as “the self-definition of a generation about its own technological innovation, governance, and socioeconomics”. Let’s break down what it means and how its formed. Modernity is the time period we are currently living in. Defining modernity can be difficult but in this instance we are defining it in relation to the enlightenment.

Modernity is defined by secularism and the move towards rational thought. It’s characterised by philosophical advancement and a scientific approach to making sense of the world. The development of medicine, technology, and social structures that dominate our society are all results of this shift. There are two main theories for the formation of modernity, diffusionism and co-constitution.

Diffusionism

This model has modernity beginning and developing in one area, then being spread to the rest of the world over time. The place of origin for Modernity in this model is Europe. This creates a centre of origin and establishes a birth place for modernity.

The consequence of a diffusion model is that it ignores and erases philosophical thought and development in other countries. By claiming one point of origin where everything else comes from, it dismisses any room for the independently constructed mechanisms of modernity in the non-European world.

Due to the association of modernity with intelligence and civilisation, it also enforces narratives of white supremacy and racism. Existing within the implication that Europe is inherently more advanced and thus superior to the rest of the world. This has been used to justify colonialism and the cultural genocide of invaded people, with the reasoning that their lives were being improved by the influence of European modernity and civilisation.

This also leads to the creation of a binary based system and world view. It separates the world into the West and non-West.

Examples of Diffusionism

The Enlightenment begins to take place in 17th Century Europe. Reason, religion, nature and God are important subjects that are developed and spread throughout Europe. This results in a shift away from religious explanations for the world and origins and towards rationality and science. Preoccupation with finding the origin and ‘true’ nature of things defines the enlightenment and diffusionism. Empires spread their ideas to these colonies and enforced their own religions and systems of belief. These countries and cultures which had different systems of belief are influenced

by modern ideas and begin to develop like the West. But because modernity did not begin in Non-Western countries, they will always be behind, trying to catch up to the West.

Co-constitution

This model opposes diffusionism. In co-constituted modernity, philosophical, technological and scientific enlightenment happened in various places around the same time period. Due to the oncoming globalisation of the world, the ability to travel and share information, different ideas and schools of thought were influenced by each other. These cross-cultural influences aided different cultures to enter modernity because of their interactions with one another.

This model has no centre or source for modernity, no birth place. Modernity is formed through interaction between different schools of thought. So there is no way to use modernity as proof of superiority.

Examples of co-constitution

If the Enlightenment is an example of diffusionism, then what is the example for co-constitution? Sebastian Conrad’s model for Global Enlightenment says that modernity was not characterised by diffusionism but by permanent reinvention. Modernity is a result of many authors around the world interacting with one another’s work and philosophies, being influenced by each other and reinventing existing frameworks of understanding for their own specific purpose. A Non-Western author who developed ideas of modernity independently but simultaneously of Europe is Zera Yaqob, whose Hatata is a philosophical text which inquires into topics such as reasoning and harmony. In it, rationality is not opposed to religion or faith, instead they can interact and explain each other.

So who made modernity?

By looking at the two models for modernity formation it is evident that there are two answers to this question. In the case of diffusionism, Modernity was made by a group of European intellectuals during the Enlightenment period in the 17th and 18th centuries.

However, if we look at the co-constitution model then we get a different answer. In this case modernity was made from cross-cultural influences and so has no one definable creator. Modernity is a product of indirect collaboration.

Why does it matter?

Why does it matter what model we use? By moving away from the Eurocentric diffusionist model we are able to examine and discover texts in a new way. A deeper understanding of the formation of modernity can be found when we examine all agents who had a part in its creation.


Bibliography

Sebastian Conrad 2012, ‘Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique’. The American Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 4, pp. 999–1027.

Zära Yaḳob 1667, Hatäta (‘Inquiry’). Trans. Claude Sumner 1976, Ethiopian Philosophy, vol. II: The Treatise of Zara Yaecob and Walda Hewat, Text and Authorship. Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing Press.


Gloria Luz Pajares Tamayo is a Peruvian third year Comparative Literature student hoping to pursue a career in academia, with special interest in interrogating the ways in which pedagogy can contribute to pre-existing ethnocentric approaches to world literature despite an emphasis on decolonising the curriculum. They are currently most interested in texts which use the grotesque and the non-human to explore the repressed within society.

What is modernity and who made it?

This blog post is among the winners of the Department of Comparative Literatures’s 2020-2021 Blog Award for the module 6ABA0013 ‘Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa in Global Cultural Studies’. Congratulations to Anna Haslam for winning the award!


To begin to understand what modernity is and who made it, we must draw our attention to two key frameworks of thought: diffusionism and co-constitution. Both theories seek to determine how modernity has developed across the world. Growing up and seeing Europe as the centre on a world map only enhances our unconscious bias that Europe was the home to the phenomenon of modernity. Diffusionism pushes this narrative. Co-constitution does not deny the fundamental importance of European thought in the making of the global Enlightenment, but it makes the point that we cannot continue to ignore evidence of a global Enlightenment with origins across the world spanning the 17th and 18th centuries.

Diffusionism

Diffusionism is the idea that modernity spread from one centre to the rest of the world. It is inherently Eurocentric, a worldview favouring Western civilisations as primary sources of cultural development. Thus, when stating that modernity spread from one centre to the rest of the world, it suggests that the ideas of modernity have originated in the West and influenced Non-Western cultures. Diffusionism assumes that there is no exchange between the West and the East but that the East receives everything that the West produces.

Diffusionism and colonialism

Colonialism acted as the vehicle by which these peripheries would gain modernity. So can we thank colonial expansion for the modernisation of the world? The movement of modernity, transported by colonialism, is said to have bought social, economic, and political progress to other ‘less developed’ areas of the world. For supporters of imperialism, this was a good thing to ‘civilise’ what was seen as ‘uncivilised’ nations. However, the invasion of these new countries caused conflict and instability. Whichever way colonial intervention is perceived, as good or bad, both views are diffusionist and imply that modernity originated in Europe.

Co-constitution

Co-constitution is the theory that modernity was globally co-produced, and that those outside of Europe crucially contributed to the making of modernity. Co-constitution is the direct opposite of diffusionism, there are no centres and no peripheries, each country has it’s own mutual influence because no one invented modernity independent of outside influences. Our thoughts and ideas are always shaped by inputs coming from near and far, and by what has come before us. This leans on our identities being relational rather than essentialist.

Co-constitution and the Enlightenment

The ‘age of enlightenment’ in Europe is considered the hallmark of philosophical modernity, and it is too often described as an autonomous achievement of European intellectuals. Historians like Conrad point out the important enlightenment contributions from other places in the world, such as 17th-century Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob. The ideas of the Enlightenment, of modernity and socio-economic progress, are a global making of cross border interactions. Conrad dismisses the obsessive ‘quest for origin’ attached to the Enlightenment. Cultures and people are subject to change, they are not statutory, meaning no one can claim to have created modernity. He completely reimagines the enlightenment from this global perspective.

The debate: diffusionism versus co-constitution

Co-constitution argues that the philosophy of modernity was a global effort. However, non-western efforts in building the modern era were erased through western public consciousness, since Euro-American schools study the Enlightenment as an exclusively European phenomenon. These erasures occur from Eurocentisicm, the idea behind diffusionism. This idea behind diffusionism that modernity developed in a self-enclosed environment can be easily debated in light of a globalised world. There is evidence of a co-dependent relationship between East and West on the development of ideas. There are cases when European philosophy has defined itself in response to non-western thought. This is a distinct reversal from diffusionist thinking where Europe exclusively influences the peripheries. Wendy Belcher names this process ‘discursive possession’. What the diffusionist model fails to see is that other continents can produce their own discourse, and how they narrate their own history and culture consequently defines how Europeans represent them in our own narrative. Therefore European thought does not develop in isolation but is constitutively informed by the ideas and discourses of non-European actors.

Modernity today

The varying examples of modernity worldwide make it impossible to deduce whether modernity emerged through diffusion or co-constitution. Elements of diffusionist thought can be seen in the Western ‘need’ to bring democracy to other areas of the world, for example the invasions of Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001. It can hardly be said that these invasions were successful. Ethiopian intellectual Gäbrä-Həywät Baykädaň tackles this nuance of the origins of modernity by comparing Ethiopia and the west. He says that although some innovations of modernity may have come from Europe to other nations, it does not mean they could not have been created somewhere else also, nor does it mean that Europe owns these concepts.

Ideas of modernity are constantly changing, and in an increasingly tumultuous year, concerning Brexit in the UK and Covid-19 globally, it is impossible to predict what the modern world will look like even in months to come. As modernity emerged a product of global interactions, modernity will continue to be defined by how we react as cultures and nations to world events.


Bibliography

Baykädaň, Gäbrä-Həywät, 1923, Mängəstənna YäHəzb Astädadär (‘Government and Public Administration’). Addis Abäba: Bərhanənna Sälam. Trans. Tenkir Bonger 1995, The State and Economy in Early 20th Century Ethiopia. Lawrenceville NJ: Red Sea Press (Chapters 1-6).

Belcher, Wendy, 2012, Abyssinia’s Samuel Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Chapter 1, ‘Three Thousand Years of Habesha History and Discourse’ and Chapter 2, ‘Samuel Johnson’s Discursive Possession and A Voyage to Abyssinia’).

Conrad, Sebastian, 2012, ‘Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique’. The American Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 4.

Anna Haslam is a third-year Comparative Literature student and looking to work in journalism and public relations in the private or public sector. This reflects her interests in current affairs and global cultural studies. She is currently working on her dissertation on disease as a socio-political metaphor in 20th century European literature. Alongside this, she is a member of the university chaplaincy book group and enjoys discussing and debating the content of what they are reading.