Modernism and Postcolonialism
Modernism is a twentieth-century European movement in the creative arts that broke with the dominant conventions of nineteenth-century art. It has been argued that the European colonization of Africa, India, and the Caribbean was crucial to the development of a modernist aesthetic. The import into Europe of artifacts and other elements of so-called "primitive" cultures from the colonized territories strongly influenced the cultural production of early twentieth-century modern British writers. In addition, the impact of colonialism on British society, and the the subsequent decolonization of occupied territories, posed a challenge to the notion of "Englishness" and to the English modern text.
This course will explore the concepts of modernism and postcolonialism and the ideological connections between them. To understand the impact of colonialism on English identity, we will investigate modernist colonial discourse in England, and narratives about the end of modernism and the end of the British empire. We will, additionally, examine the impact of British colonialism on late modernist production within colonized territories. To that end, we will investigate Irish modernism and the postcolonial Irish Free State, as well as postcolonial texts from India and the Caribbean. Our readings will include novels, poetry, and essays by E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Michelle Cliff, and Edwidge Danticat. We will also read theoretical texts on modernism and postcolonialism by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, Homi Bhabha, Edward Said, T.Bray and R. Middleton, and A. Eysteinsson. Requirements: two short papers, one oral presentation, and one final research paper.