Postcolonialism and the Discipline of English

Meeting Times and Room:
Wed 12:00-3:00, BH 225
Jim English;
Email Address:
115 Bennett Hall
Tues, 12:00-1:30 and by appointment: email Jennifer or phone 898-7349, the Graduate Office
Class Listserv:


This class is intended, first of all, to serve as a general introduction to postcolonial literature and theory. Toward that end, we will be reading a number of the most influential theorists of postcolonialism as well as some of the novels that have been of particular importance to debates and discussions in the field. Our more particular concerns in this class will be with the problematic disciplinarity of "postcolonial studies": the origins of the term itself and the modes of its differentiation from studies of national liberation and of diaspora; the shift from historical and social-scientific conceptions of the postcolonial to essentially literary-critical ones; the problems and failures of the literary paradigm of postcolonial studies as they became manifest in the 1980s; and the tendency of literary scholars working in this field today to extend the postcolonial across ever broader zones of history and geography.


There are no prerequisites for this class, but it will be helpful if you have done some reading in 20th-century British literature and in contemporary cultural theory. Reading for the class is quite heavy, and everyone will be expected to get it done, since we will be spending at least half our time each week in discussion. Written work consists of two short research reports (which will be presented to the class), a mid-term essay of about 6-8 pages, and a final essay of about 10-12 pages.


I have not placed an order for the books for this class. The editions we are using (listed below, with ISBN numbers) are all available either at local booksellers or through and other online bookstores. I will be placing an order for Kanthapura on Jan 14, requesting second-day delivery to assure that it arrives before our Jan 20 class meeting. Please let me know if you want me to order you a copy. For the other books, you will save some money by ordering them all together from amazon or one of its competitors. Our other readings are available as a bulkpack from Wharton Reprographics. Occasionally, I may post additional readings to our web page at

You might also want to have a look at some of the online resources for postcolonial studies. Good starting points are at Alan Liu's excellent Voice of the Shuttle: a list of Postcolonial Studies Sites and a list of Other Literatures in English sites. There is also George Landow's Postcolonial website at Brown, which includes some pages devoted to Postcolonial Theory


January 13:
Introductory Session: Aims and procedures of the class. Postcolonialism and its (many) discontents.

PART I: Theorists and Prophets of
Postcolonial Nationhood

January 20:
Frantz Fanon, "Pitfalls of National Consciousness" and "On National Culture" from Wretched of the Earth [Research Report: Mark Rifkin]
Amilcar Cabral, "National Liberation and Culture" [Research Report: Martha Schoolman]
January 27:
Raja Rao, Kanthapura [Report: Nia Tuckson]
Senath Perera, "Towards a Limited Emancipation: Women in Kanthapura" [Report: Leila Easa]
February 3:
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart [Reports: Mark Sample, Linda Nurra]

PART II: From Immigration to Diaspora;
Literature of the Black Atlantic

February 10:
George Lamming, The Emigrants [Report: Gabriela Zoller]
Paul Gilroy, "Diaspora, Utopia, and the Critique of Capitalism" from There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack [Report: Bert Scruggs]
February 17:
Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory [Report: Linda Nurra]
Chandra Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes"
Sara Suleri, "Woman Skin Deep: Feminism and the Postcolonial Condition" [report: Sari Kawana]
Mid-term Essays Due

PART III: Postcolonialism as "Historical Social Science"
and as Literary Theory

February 24:
Hamza Alavi, "The State in Postcolonial Societies"; Immanuel Wallerstein, "Dependence in an Interdependent World" and "An Historical Perspective on the Emergence of the New International Order" from The Capitalist World Economy [Report: Bert Scruggs]
Aijaz Ahmad, "Postcolonialism: What's in a Name" from Late Imperial Culture [Report: Nia Tuckson, Matt Hart]
March 3:
Edward Said, "Latent and Manifest Orientalism" and "Style, Expertise, Vision" from Orientalism; "Movements and Migrations" from Culture and Imperialism [Report: ?]
March 17:
Homi Bhabha, "The Other Question" and "Of Mimicry and Man" from Location of Culture [report: Diana Falchuk]
Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, "Marginality in the Teaching Machine" and "Reading the Satanic Verses" from Outside in the Teaching Machine [Report: Matt Hart]
[start reading The Satanic Verses over spring break]

PART IV: The Postcolonial Paradigm of the 1980s:
migrancy, marginality, hybridity, translation

March 24:
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses [Report: Mark Sample]
March 31:
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses [Report on Verses affair: ?]
Bhabha, "How Newness Enters the World" from Location of Culture.

PART V: Shifting Boundaries of Postcoloniality

April 7:
Lawrence Buell, "American Literary Emergence as a Postcolonial Phenomenon,"
Peter Hulme, "Including America," [Report on Buell and Hulme: Martha Schoolman]
Benita Parry, "Postcolonialism: Conceptual Category or Chimera?"
Stuart Hall, "When Was the Postcolonial?" [Report on Parry and Hall: Sari Kawana]
April 14:
Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters [Report: Yoonmee Chang]
K. Anthony Appiah, "Is the Post in Postcolonial the Same as the Post in Postmodern?" [Report: Diana Falchuk]
April 21:
To be decided