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Colonial/Postcolonial Fiction and Film

ENGL 572.401
also offered as: AFRC 572, CIMS 572, COML 575
R 9-12:00


In this seminar we will study a series of thematically connected novels by some of the twentieth-century’s most important writers, both from England and the global south.  It is conceived of as a repertoire-building course, in which anyone interested in postcolonial literature, African literature, cinema, and global modernities will be welcome.  Each week, we will also consider a film that amplifies the themes raised by the novels (some will be adaptations, though, in most, cases we will view a related and more artistically distinguished film). Discussions are likely to critically examine the following oppositions: “Englishness” (or “Frenchness”) and otherness, civilization and barbarism, power and knowledge, the metropolis and the periphery, and writing and orality.  This is to say that the course will also have a theoretical component; and students will be able to drawn on an archive of relevant scholarship on Canvas.  Please note that the course is somewhat Africa-focused, though not exclusively so, and that a few contemporary re-imaginings of earlier classics are also likely to be included.  This way the course will revisit works that are familiar, but also introduce ones will probably feel quite new. Likely novels include: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (with Eben Venter, Trencherman); E.M. Forster, Passage to India (with Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer); Evelyn Waugh, Black Mischief; Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Graham Greene, The Quiet American; Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God; Sembene Ousmane, God’s Bits of Wood; Ngugi wa Thiong’O, A Grain of Wheat, J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (plus Coetzee’s screenplay); Kazuo Ishiguru, The Remains of the Day; Salman Rushdie, Shame, and John Le Carré, The Constant Gardener.  Films may include: Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Black and White in Color, The Year of Living Dangerously, Sugar Cane Alley, The Battle of Algiers, Lumumba: La Mort du Prophète, Moolade, The First Grader, Even the Rain, and Caché.  Requirements: one or two in-class presentations (depending on class size); a final paper of about 15-20 pp.

fulfills requirements