Ideational Representation of Women in the Diasporic Novels of ...

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  • Title: Ideational Representation of Women in the Diasporic Novels of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chika Unigwe
  • Author(s): Ikenna Kamalu
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Literary Humanities
  • Keywords: Ideational Representation, Diaspora, Womanhood, Selfhood, Victimhood
  • Volume: 16
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2327-7912 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-8676 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Kamalu, Ikenna. 2018. "Ideational Representation of Women in the Diasporic Novels of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chika Unigwe." The International Journal of Literary Humanities 16 (1): 1-12. doi:10.18848/2327-7912/CGP/v16i01/1-12.
  • Extent: 12 pages


Semiotic modes such as literature, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, and film can be and have been used to represent social experiences and meanings. They are carriers of experiential and logical meanings that enhance our understanding of our natural, social, and spiritual worlds. Literature in particular captures the social experiences of imagined or real characters in the creative universe of the writer. It therefore represents one of the most elevated art forms in the presentation of the existential realities of the world. Twenty-first century African literature is replete with artistic representations of the dismal social conditions of the continent such as leadership failure, armed conflicts, trauma, prostitution, sex slavery, child soldiering, child trafficking, female genital mutilation, patriarchal dominance, and religious fanaticism, among others. In all, Africa is depicted in popular imagination as a doomed continent and the source or home of dreaded calamities. Most African writers of the century hardly present their continent as a place of hope and promise due to the negative representation of the continent in Western media and art and in popular thought and imagination. Representation of gendered social experiences occupies a central place in African literature. Women are depicted in different frames like dependent or independent, assertive or submissive, villains or victims, and so on. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chika Unigwe, two Nigerian female writers, in “Americanah” and “On Black Sisters’ Street” respectively, novels set in different continents, present their major female characters from different ideological stances that both validate and interrogate some traditional assumptions about womanhood. Working within the tenets of systemic functional linguistics (SFL), this study explores how the resources of language enable Adichie and Unigwe to construct their major female characters and assert their selfhood or victimhood within the diasporic context.