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Topics in Literature and Society

ENGL 393.401
instructor(s):
T 1:30-4:30

This course is an introduction to one of the most exciting, controversial and challenging fields of study to have emerged in recent years. Although the field concerns itself with literature from those parts of the world formerly colonized by Europe, this course will restrict itself to the British empire and its former colonies (specifically Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean). First we will look at some examples of British discourse about the colonies and then we will explore the (post)colonial responses to and interrogations of those constructions. Some of the questions that we will consider are: if postcolonial literature is understood as a "writing back" to empire then does that always make it a supplementary discourse? Is the model of the "empire writing back" too restrictive? What is the relationship between these newly emerging literatures and the nation/nationalism? Is there such a thing as a postcolonial reading practice? Is there such a thing as a postcolonial philosophy (or postcolonial philosophies) which inform(s) postcolonial literatures? How do generic categories alter when taken up by the colonized? Can you use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house? We will probably read J.M. Coetzee, Bapsi Sidwha, Nuruddin Farah, Chinua Achebe, Jean Rhys, Charlotte Bronte, Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster and Daniel Defoe. There will be a short paper, a longer research paper and a take-home final.