Beyond Literary Landscapes—Afrofuturism

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column serves as an introduction to Afrofuturism in literature, as well as a reminder of some of the genre’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

Afrofuturism can be defined as “as an intersection of speculation and liberation that’s inspired by the concerns of people of African descent.”  In addition, “Afrofuturists seek to recover knowledge lost as the result of slavery and colonialism, and they’re highly critical of contemporary practices that continue to marginalize people.”

Some characteristics of Afrofuturism include themes of “alien or “otherness”, utopian ideologies, the digital divide, feminism, the grotesque, and reclamation of culture.”  Often, writers “[reimagine] a future flush with art, science and technology through a [B]lack lens.”

Notable authors who have written in the genre of Afrofuturism include Octavia E. Butler, Tomi Adeyemi, and Nnedi Okorafor.


Examples of Afrofuturism in literature include Dawn by Octavia E. Butler, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.


These novels take place in space, the Namib desert, as well as fictional landscapes, such as the kingdom of Orïsha, which is “[s]et in a mythical Nigeria.”


These novels are set during the future.


Afrofuturism may be of interest to AU readers who enjoy Speculative Fiction, as well as those who would like to learn more about Afrofuturism as a literary genre, and perhaps, Afrofuturism in art and cinema.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Afrofuturism are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 491: Directed Studies in Literature, a senior-level, three-credit course, in which “[s]tudents may wish to focus on a specific question within cultural studies or a particular set of texts or practices,” or “may also choose to study more traditional areas of literature, to engage with new literary texts or theoretical approaches, to undertake a study in comparative literature, or to take on interdisciplinary topics.”  (Note that ENGL 211: Prose Forms,  ENGL 212:  Poetry and Plays are required as prerequisites, in addition to two senior-level ENGL courses and course coordinator permission.)  Happy reading!