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Nervous Conditions Book Report

Write a book report that analyzes the main themes of the novel. You may choose to focus on a specific character’s journey or a specific theme in the novel, such as colonialism, race, gender, kinship or education.  What I want for you to do is to write a book report that does NOT summarize the plot of the novel, but rather takes a deeper look at what questions the novel raises for you as a student of global feminisms. Since you have only 3 pages, you cannot cover everything you might want to; I would suggest aiming for depth rather than breadth. This will help you focus and use more critical thinking skills to analyze the novel, both in terms of style/form and content. Here are some approaches you can take/ questions to ask:  What is the significance of the novel’s title? Why do you think Dangarembga chose to name it “Nervous Conditions”?  Pick an event (no more than 3) from the novel and explain its significance to the larger message of the novel or your interpretation of it.  Ask yourself what was memorable for you and why. This will force you to be reflective in your review of the novel and interrogate your positionality as a reader of a postcolonial cultural text.  How does the style of the book contribute to your experience of it? Style refers to the structural and creative choioces that the author has employed in order to present the content (themes, plots, character development) to their reader. Some aspects of style include: first-person/second-person/third-person narrative, word choice and sentence structures, rhythm, figurative language, use of temporality, breakdown of plot/content into chapters/parts/sections, rhetorical patterns such as landscape, event or character descriptions, symbolisms, comparison-contrast Analyze one or two of the following interconnected themes (anybody who comes up with their own themes will receive 1 bonus pt per new theme for originality): 1) kinship, home and belonging 2) Patriarchy, oppression and gender 3) Race, oppression and colonialism 4) Coming of age 5) Social mobility and social change 6) Resistance and compliance 7) Agency and choice Which relationships do you think best exemplify these themes or stood out to you the most? Why and what evidence can you present from the text (such as quotes, specific events or turning points in the trajectory of the relationship etc.)? You could choose to focus on Tambu and Nyasha, Babamukuru and Tambu, Tambu and Nhamo, Maiguru and Ma’ Shingayi, Babamukuru and Jeremiah.  How does Tambu’s relationship with herself change over time? How does her relationship to her family change? Pay attention to character development throughout, not just Tambu’s but also the other characters in the novel.  How are gender roles portrayed in the novel? How is womanhood portrayed in the novel? What room does Tambu have for self determination and how does her exposure to women as wives, daughters, natives and citizens play into this? What are the different femininities and masculinities we are introduced to? How are race, class and gender intertwined in the novel, either through Tambu’s journey throughout the novel, or that of other characters? Is there room to queer the novel and its characters in any way?  Those of you who will make a reference to at least ONE other reading we have done so far and incorporate it into your analysis will receive a higher grade. How do some of the concepts we have looked at in class ( such as imperial feminism, Orientalism, imperial nostalgia, intersectionality, cultural relativism) apply to the novel? Additional tips:  Don’t use shortcuts when analyzing; unpack your assumptions. Whenever you make a statement, always ask yourself if you are giving the reader ample insight into your reasoning: Why do you believe what you do? Do you provide evidence from the text?  Direct quotes and consistent reference style are both required!  Don’t be afraid to pose questions or uncertainties; they indicate that you are grappling with the complexities present in the material.  Make sure to have a proper introduction and conclusion. I am open to more creative styles of writing, and so an introductory and concluding paragraph are not necessarily required, but your writing should have flow.