Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Growing Up Funny—adolescence and identity in South Asian Writing

ENGL 293.401


It is a curious fact that some of the most compelling fiction about and by South Asians features the coming of age of a child protagonist. This body of writing appropriates and reshapes the classic European Bildungsroman, but it also uses narrative traditions from South Asia in order to tell the story of the postcolonial nation, and to chart the contours of contemporary South Asian identity and sexuality. In this course, we will read novels, short stories and plays--some well known and others less so, some now considered ‘classics’ and others very recent, produced from within the South Asia as well as by South Asians in the diaspora.

All of these speak of the excitement and trauma of growing up with a certain cultural, sexual or ethnic identity. Through them, we will discuss key features of the political and social upheavals of the South Asian subcontinent, as well as the dynamics of the family, migration, gender relations, sexual identities and cultural belonging.

Students will be expected to attend regularly, contribute regularly to class discussions, complete all reading and film watching assignments on time, present a short oral presentation, take one mid-term exam, and write two papers (details will be discussed in class).


fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major