SCHOOL OF LANGUAGES LECTURERS WIN AHP FELLOWSHIPS

 

The African Humanities Program (AHP) is a prestigious and highly competitive academic award scheme organized by the American Council of Learned Societies to offer African scholars an integrated set of opportunities to develop individual capacities and to promote the formation of scholarly networks.

The goals of the AHP are to encourage and enable the production of new knowledge and new directions for research, and to strengthen the capacity of early career researchers and faculty at African universities, and to also expand the field of humanities by establishing networks for scholarly communication across Africa and with Africanists worldwide.

This year, the School of Languages of University of Ghana is very privileged to have four of its lecturers winning Postdoctoral Fellowships from the AHP. They include Mr. Joseph Brookman Amissah-Arthur (English), Dr. Kwabena Opoku- Agyemang (English), Dr. Yvonne Agbetsoamedo (Linguistics), and Dr. Mercy Bobuafuor (Linguistics).

Mr. J. B. Amissah-Arthur’s award-winning proposal titled, “Structural Grammar of the Early Ghanaian Novel: Towards a Poetics of the Colonial Story,” advances the view that all early Ghanaian novels are organised according to the same structural paradigms, and therefore they tell one great story. In pursuit of the above objective, Mr. Amissah-Arthur examines the existing scholarship on the early Ghanaian novel and discovers that significant gaps exist in the criticism. For instance, he observes that many of the interpreters of the early Ghanaian novel – Charles Angmor (1996 and 2010), S.J. Salm and Toyin Falola (2002), Stephanie Newell (2002), Helen Yitah and Karen Dako (2011), and Donald Wehrs ([2008], 2016) – provide analyses of only the “existential thematics” (Culler 2002: 32). In Amissah-Arthur’s view, such analyses only look at the veridical concerns of the colonised Africans without examining the formulaic structural patterning, which provides the foundation upon which the meaning of the novel is derived. Following the grammarians of story such as Claude Levi-Strauss, Amissah-Arthur intends to study the story – and not the discourse – of the early Ghanaian novel in order to discover the functional constants and variables of its structure. In an interview, Amissah-Arthur quotes Levi-Strauss in the “The Structural Study of Myth” to support the methodology for his proposed work. He submits, “it is only as bundles that [isolated] relations of a text can be put to use and combined so as to produce a meaning.” He expounds on his vision: “Following Levi-Strauss, I shall not merely attempt to isolate the permanent functions, but also try to discover how the delineated functions can be combined to make meaning in the early Ghanaian novel. The structural methodology is useful for my study because it is the business of the structuralist to unravel the deeply embedded and unconscious patterns of organization of the text. His study therefore intends to uncover the unconscious concerns of the early Ghanaian novelists as they grappled with colonization.”

Mr. Amissah-Arthur’s project represents a sequel to his award-winning 2017 PhD dissertation, which provides a parallel analysis on the European colonialist novel. In “Towards a Theory of the Colonialist Novel: Caving, Caging, Theft and Voicing as a Structural Grammar,” Amissah-Arthur provides an argument that seeks to expose the hidden concerns of the European colonialist novelists such as Henry Rider Haggard, Joseph Conrad, Joyce Cary, Graham Greene and Nicholas Monsarrat. Against this background, the proposed project shall provide an important counterpart to Amissah-Arthur’s earlier work to extend existing knowledge on the dialectical roles of the novel in inscribing and resisting colonialism in Africa. The project shall therefore make a significant contribution to the fields of colonial discourse, discourse of decolonization, African literature and theory of the novel. The study has the effect of providing an important African input into global humanistic scholarship in regard to issues concerning the theory of the novel and the novel’s its umbilical linkage with the career of colonialism.

Expressing his view on winning the prestigious African Humanities Program (AHP) Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mr. J. B. Amissah-Arthur stresses: “my secret to winning the Fellowship involved being knowledgeable and committed to my areas of study, and being creative and relevant with my proposal.” He says it has taken a lot of hard work to get this far. He expresses his excitement in being a member of the last cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows of the AHP, and also in being a part of the four incredibly proud Postdoctoral Fellows from the School of Languages who seek to ensure that the flag of the University of Ghana keeps competing and flying on the global platform.

From left to right Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang (English), Dr. Yvonne Agbetsoamedo (Linguistics), Mr. Joseph Brookman Amissah-Arthur (English )and Dr. Mercy Bobuafor (Linguistics).

 

Dr. Yvonne Agbetsoamedo’s research title that won her the AHP award was “Tense, Aspect and mood of Sele”.Sele is a language spoken by the Santrokofi in the Volta region of Ghana and it falls under the Kwa language group of West Africa. She has won the award to complete her project on the tense, aspect and mood of Sele.Giving a little summary of her project title Dr. Agbetsoamedo describes Sele as having very unique features , morphological markers for remoteness distinction in the past i.e. events that have occurred in the past tense, events that happen just before the time of occurrence, hodiernal and prehodiernal. Sele also has morphological markings on aspect for progressive, perfective and habitual.

She was extremely happy to have received the award and stated that the award will give her a wonderful time and opportunity to make use of several data she has on Sele and give her time off the teaching scene to concentrate on doing more research works to help her future promotion. She added that she hope the AHP opportunity does not end for other lecturers to also benefit.

Dr. Mercy Bobuafor’s research title was “Documenting fading words: the linguistic and cultural meaning of agricultural terms in Tafi. The Tafi language whose autonym is Tigbo is spoken in the Southeastern part of Ghana and it belongs to the Kwa subgroup of the Ghana-Togo Mountain (GTM) languages, which belongs to the Kwa family of the Niger-Congo phylum.

Tafi has nine vowels, which participate in a root-controlled ATR harmony system. It is a tone language with three level tonemes: High (marked with an acute accent), Mid (marked with a macron) and Low (left unmarked or with a grave accent on syllabic nasals) plus Rising(R) and Falling (F) tones.

According to Dr. Bobuafor,due to the decrease in the intergenerational transmission of the language [Tafi], cultural practices of agriculture, knowledge in this domain has decreased i.e. most young people don’t want to enter into agriculture. Her project therefore seeks to document and undertake a lexical cultural study of agricultural terms used in Tafi.She expressed her excitement about the award and said it will give her a wonderful opportunity to engage in other researches for her promotion as a lecturer and also make Tafi known.

Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang’s research title that won him the prestigious AHP award was “Africa E-Lit: Oral tradition and Genre-Making in Ghanaian Digital Creative Expression. Giving a little summary about the topic, he explained E-lit as African creative pieces made by digital technology and in the research , he will try to explain the relationship that exist between E-lit and oral tradition. We need to think of oral tradition in the creation and circulation or use in Africa digital technology.

He also expressed his joy upon receiving the award and added that it is an excellent opportunity for him to engage in more research works for his advancement as a lecturer.