At the University of Bayreuth there are three professorships in the field of Africa-related literary studies:
These departments share common aims in their research, which seeks to take into account the social and cultural environment of the literatures studied with regard to production, distribution and reception. In addition, they share a diachronic and synchronic approach to literature and an interest in intermedial and intercultural phenomena. Their cooperation in both teaching and research is manifested for instance in common teaching units.
Research in each case is shaped by the department's specific orientation, and is often reflected in teaching.
The study of literatures in African languages covers an immense field. It could include oral and written literatures in all African languages and cultures, but this would require a knowledge of all these languages and cultures – an impossible task. Nevertheless, the "Literatures in African Languages" course has an open design so that its contents and the approaches used can be adapted as required.
Currently the teaching of literatures in African languages at the University of Bayreuth has three basic components: a theoretical unit which provides an introduction into literatures in African languages; another unit based on comparative studies of the oral and written genres of these literatures, and finally a study of Swahili literatures in all their variety. In these three areas, the courses provide a broad overview of methodological approaches and analysis of a wide range of texts with different subjects, tendencies, structural and aesthetic aspects.
The study of anglophone literature in Africa and its diaspora is a part of the study of post-colonial cultures, and is concerned among other things with the effects and long-term consequences of British colonialism in Africa. The English-speaking literatures of Africa are included in the English degree programmes at the University of Bayreuth, both in the BA course in English and in the MA course in Intercultural Anglophone Studies, and they are the subject of research by Ph.D. students.
The main areas treated in research and teaching are: Post-colonial narrative strategies, innovation and cultural hybridity in the African anglophone novel. The representation of society in the post-apartheid period in the South African novel. Female identities in the field of tension between local and global influence in the Ugandan novel. Writers in the African diaspora in Great Britain. The role and representation of the African diaspora in the medial construction of British multiculturalism.
The department of Romance literature is interested in the so-called "francophone literatures". This includes literatures produced both by African writers (Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, Indian Ocean), and by writers who live and work in exile or who have emigrated from Africa.
This is a rich, many-faceted field of research, which focuses on relations between Europe and Africa, as well as on relations between African countries. Questions of cultural identity and orientation in a globalized world are among the fundamental issues studied. Aesthetic aspects, which can be seen as reflecting the contact between different cultures, also occupy a central position.
Further, attention is paid to the interplay between literatures and other artistic, narrative forms of expression, so that the media form an important point of reference in intermedial research (film, television, comics, press, etc.).