Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

J.M. Coetzee

ENGL 586.401
instructor(s):
W 9-12:00

In this course we will consider all the major works of the South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, as well as the literary, theoretical, and political issues they raise. The reading list will include Dusklands, In the Heart of the Country, Waiting for the Barbarians, Life and Times of Michael K, Foe, Age of Iron, Disgrace, Boyhood, and (if available) the new memoir, Youth. We will also study Coetzee’s wide-ranging academic writing, which addresses issues like colonial discourse, confession, autobiography, censorship, torture, animal rights, ethics, the nature of the “classic,” the ideology and apartheid, and so forth. We will examine Coetzee’s complex, elusive and critical relationship to South African literature and history, as well as his significance in the broader international context: his relationship to writers like Kafka, Beckett, Nabakov, Dostoyevsky, and more generally, to modernism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism. The Coetzee seminar, in short, should be of interest to graduate students with a wide-range of specialities. Modernists, comparatists, theorists, postcolonialists, feminists, and Africanists are all welcome. Requirements: an oral presentation on an assigned topics and a final essay on a topic of the student’s own chosing.