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Modernity, Colonialism, and Race: Views from the Global South

ENGL 294.402
also offered as: GSWS 296, COML 291
Thursday 1:30-4:30

This course examines theory and literature from and on the Global South that analyzes and challenges colonialism, imperialism, racism, patriarchy, and globalization. We will study the emergence of modern racism and global capitalism as they are bound together and rooted in European colonization of the Americas, and we will examine how colonial and imperial relations of power are reproduced across time and space, including in our contemporary moment. We will consider questions such as the following: How have ideas about Western modernity relied on representations of what is thought to be non-modern (e.g. primitive, irrational, traditional, backward) and how have such representations helped to produce and perpetuate exploitation, racism, and war? What is the relationship between development in some parts of the world and underdevelopment in others?  How does an understanding of colonialism and neocolonialism shed light on contemporary phenomena, including globalization, the explosive growth of slums, migration and border politics, gendered violence, and the so-called “War on Terror”? What is the Fourth World War? What is the role of culture and literature in colonial domination and anticolonial resistance?


Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will examine how people from across the Global South have contested, resisted, and theorized colonialism and imperialism in the 20th and 21st centuries. This will include the study of anticolonial revolutionary thought written in the context of national liberation struggles; radical education and consciousness-raising; postcolonial and Third World feminisms; anticolonial literature and film, as well as analyses of the role of artists and intellectuals in anticolonial struggle; and the practices of grassroots social movements that have emerged in recent decades.


Course material will include social and literary theory, literature, and film. No previous knowledge of this topic is required. 

fulfills requirements
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major