The scourge of postcolonial studies, V.S. Naipaul, recently wrote, "In one Kipling story an Indian famine was a background to an English romance...the extraordinary distress of India was like something given, eternal, something to be read only as background." How is difference represented in modern European writings about alien peoples and practices, and how are such questions related to our understanding of literary value? How can literary analysis be brought into dialogue with contextual issues that seem opaque (if not opposed) to the concerns of the main story? We will also try to explore how issues of race, class and gender are framed in these narratives. We will read novels and short stories by Forster, Salih, Naipaul, Desai, Ishiguro, Coetzee among others. Requirements include an oral presentation and two 5-8 page papers.