English 350, Postcolonial Literature                                    Fall term 2010 MWF A hour
Direct comments and questions to Professor Suzanne Keen.
Professor Suzanne Keen                                                          Baker 124
skeen@wlu.edu                                                                        458-8759
Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Extra hours will be added on Mondays before paper due dates.

Postcolonial Literature

Reading and writing about poetry, drama, fiction, and memoir by Caribbean, subcontinental Indian, Irish, African, Australian, and Canadian writers gives students the opportunity to stretch critically, while encountering some of the riches of recent postcolonial Anglophone writing. Focused author studies of two postcolonial writers who live and work in postimperial societies Hanif Kureishi (UK) and Edwidge Danticat (USA), open opportunities to study writers who negotiate between cultures, crossing boundaries of identity and nation. Topics include the politics of language, hybridity, race, migrancy, exile, white/western beauty standards, interpellation of the subject, borderlands, and postimperial societies. We will consider the usefulness of contextual frames and labels such as “transnational literature,” “world literature,” “Commonwealth literature” and “postcolonial literature” itself.

Components of the grade.

20% participation and attendance
20% paper #1: 7-8 pages, 2100-2400 words, on poetry
40% paper #2: 10-12 pages, approx. 3000 words, on drama or fiction
20% objective final examination. A grade of 59 or less earns the course grade of E.

Required Texts. Do not buy alternate editions.

Free online version of the Norton Field Guide Handbook.

Edwidge Danticat, The Dewbreaker (Vintage: ISBN 978-1400034291)
Edwidge Danticat, Krik? Krak! (Vintage: ISBN 978-0679766575)
Brian Friel, Translations (Faber: 978-0571117420)
Athol Fugard, “Master Harold” and the boys (Penguin: ISBN 978-0140481877)
Helen Gilbert, ed. Postcolonial Plays (Routledge: ISBN 978-0415164498)
Hanif Kureishi, London Kills Me (Penguin: ISBN 978-0140168310)
Hanif Kurieshi, Love in a Blue Time (Scribner: ISBN 978-0684848181)
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, The Water Horse (Wake Forest: ISBN 978-0916390938)
Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family (Vintage: ISBN 978-0679746690)
Jahan Ramazani, ed. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, v. 2-Contemporary Poetry (Norton ISBN 978-0-393-97792-9)

F 9/10 Language issues: creoles, pidgins, nation language (video)

Lyric voices: hybridity and the forms of subaltern speech

M 9/13 Louise Bennett in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 167 ff
W 9/15 Kamau Braithwaite in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 542 ff
F 9/17 Lorna Goodison in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 864 ff

M 9/20  Postcolonial keywords. Brians, Postcolonial Literature: problems with the term
W 9/22  AK Ramanujan in Norton, ed. Ramazani  438 ff
F 9/24  Eunice de Sousa in Norton, ed. Ramazani 774 ff

M 9/27  Agha Shahid Ali in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 887 ff
W 9/29  Grace Nichols in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 905 ff; Persis Karim readings (Sakai)
F 10/1   Shannon Clark Retreat for English majors at House Mountain Inn

M 10/4  “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Gayatri Spivak (see Sakai resources) Les Murray in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 712 ff
W 10/6  Okot p’Bitek in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 571 ff
F 10/8  Wole Soyinka in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 626 ff

M 10/11 Margaret Atwood in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 765 ff
W 10/13  Derek Walcott in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 494 ff

Fall Reading Days

Performing postcolonial identities: interpellation as a subject

M 10/18 Athol Fugard, “Master Harold” and the boys (film screening-VHS)
Tu 10/20 Close reading of a poem due by 3 pm in Prof. Keen’s Baker Hall box.
W 10/20 Athol Fugard, “Master Harold” and the boys (finish film screening and discuss)
F 10/22  Jane Taylor, with William Kentridge and Handspring Puppet Co., “Ubu and the Truth Commission,” in Postcolonial Plays, ed. Gilbert

M 10/25 Wole Soyinka, “The Strong Breed,” in Postcolonial Plays, ed. Gilbert
W 10/27 Ama Ata Aidoo, “Anowa,” in Postcolonial Plays, ed. Gilbert
F 10/29 Manjula Padmanabhan, “Harvest,” in Postcolonial Plays, ed. Gilbert. Recommended film: Dirty Pretty Things (on reserve)

Postcolonial writers in (post)imperial societies: UK, USA, Ireland, Canada            

M 11/1 Guillermo Verdecchia, “Fronteras Americanas (American Borders),” in Postcolonial Plays, ed. Gilbert
W 11/3 Hanif Kureishi, My Beautiful Laundrette (screenplay, in London Kills Me). Recommended film: My Beautiful Laundrette (on reserve)
F 11/5   from Hanif Kurieshi, Love in a Blue Time: “We’re not Jews,” “My Son the Fanatic,” and “Flies”

M 11/8  from Hanif Kurieshi, Love in a Blue Time “With Your Tongue Down my Throat” Recommended film: Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (on reserve)
W 11/10 Edwidge Danticat, from Krik? Krak 1-122
F 11/12 Edwidge Danticat, from Krik? Krak 124-224

M 11/15 Edwidge Danticat, The Dewbreaker 1-86
W 11/17 Edwidge Danticat, The Dewbreaker 87-164
F 11/19  Edwidge Danticat, The Dewbreaker 165-242
           
M 11/29 Brian Friel, Translations (read the whole play)
W 12/1  Brian Friel, Translations
F 12/3 Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, The Water Horse “Are You Irish or English?” http://www.postcolonialweb.org/ireland/history/halloran1.html

M 12/6 Michael Ondaatje in Norton, ed. Ramazani, 831 ff.
Tu 12/7  Final paper, on a play, fiction, or an individual author, due by 3 pm in Prof. Keen’s Baker Hall box.
W 12/8 Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family (1-101)
F 12/10  Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family (105-203) Course evaluation

Links

Postcolonial Literature: problems with the term
Reading Theory
Postcolonial Studies at Emory
Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English (George Landow)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Victim transcripts
CIA World Factbook for basic data about countries.

English 350 Postcolonial Literature (winter 2008, MWF B hour)

Reading and Caring.   Drawing on the ethics of care, as articulated in the works of Nel Noddings and others, we tackle in the section of Postcolonial Literature the question of whether an intentionally caring reading can inject an impulse towards altruism or action on the behalf of others into our literary responses. A central premise of our work will be that postcolonial authors employ bounded, ambassadorial, and broadcast strategic empathy in their works, in some cases depending on conceptions of human universality that have been contested by postcolonial theorists. Reading and writing about poetry, drama, memoirs, and fiction by Caribbean, subcontinental Indian, Irish, African, Australian, and Canadian émigré writers gives students the opportunity to stretch critically, while encountering some of the riches of recent postcolonial Anglophone writing. Throughout the course, we will ask what the role of literary reading might become in moral education of good world citizens, in Martha Nussbaum's phrase.

Required Texts.

Dean Baldwin and Patrick J. Quinn, An Anthology of Colonial and Postcolonial Short Fiction (Houghton Mifflin)
Yvette Christiansë, Unconfessed (Other)
Dave Eggers, What is the What?: the Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (McSweeney's)
Brian Friel, Translations (Faber)
Helen Gilbert, ed. Postcolonial Plays (Routledge)
Jahan Ramazani, ed. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry , v. 2 (Norton)

Texts on reserve:

Routledge Companion to Postcolonial Studies, ed. John McLeod
Cambridge Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures in English, by C. L. Innes

Links

Postcolonial Literature: problems with the term
Postcolonial Studies at Emory
Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English (George Landow)
Holocaust Musuem's slide show/video, Our Walls Bear Witness, about the Darfur genocide in the Sudan.
CIA World Factbook for basic data about countries.
Valentino Achak Deng Foundation.

Definition of interpellation. Source: Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses," (1971). Lenin and philosophy, and other essays. Translated from the French by Ben Brewster. NY: Monthly Review P, 1972. B4249.L384 A69 1972

M 2/25 Manjula Padmanabhan, "Harvest," in Postcolonial Plays, ed. Gilbert. WMA policy.

Postcolonial Literature: Hybridity, Mimicry, and Transformation

We take this semester's first focal term from Jahan Ramazani's book, The Hybrid Muse. Ramazani will be this year's Shannon Clark lecturer and guest at our annual retreat for majors. You will be well prepared to participate in the discussion up at Skylark, and I expect you to be there. Hybridity in postcolonial poetry, including Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott's epic poem, Omeros, will be our first unit of study. Even in the early days of the course we will trace the presence of mimicry (in its self-aware, deliberately mocking sense) and transformations of all kinds. Hybrid identities will be a central concern as we discuss major works by Caribbean, subcontinental Indian, Irish, African, Maori (New Zealand), Black British, and Canadian émigré writers. As Yeats' refrain, “All changed, changed utterly/ A terrible beauty is born” reminds us, transformations may be simultaneously political, personal, and aesthetic. We will learn some history on the fly in order to react with awareness to political meanings, but we will also practice old-fashioned formal analysis of poetry, drama, and fiction.

Required Texts.

Brian Friel, Translations (Faber)
Helen Gilbert, ed. Postcolonial Plays (Routledge)
Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider (Harcourt)
Jamaica Kincaid, Mr. Potter (FSG)
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake (Mariner Books)
Andrea Levy, Small Island (Picador)
Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family (Vintage)
Jahan Ramazani, The Hybrid Muse (Chicago)
Jahan Ramazani, ed. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, v. 2 (Norton)
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (Penguin)
Derek Walcott, Omeros (Noonday)

The Question of Universality.

This version of Postcolonial Literature studies the poetry, drama, and fiction of anglophone postcolonial writers from the perspective of cognitive approaches to literature. Central topics of our inquiry will be postcolonial theorists' critique of "universals" and essentialism, and the role of empathy in postcolonial writing that reaches the world market. Background reading includes Lakoff and Turner's More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor; Mark Turner's The Literary Mind; and Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman. This interdisciplinary exploration of a problem in postcolonial literature requires no background in cognitive science or philosophy, but interests in those areas will be a welcome addition to our discussions. Primary texts include: Helen Gilbert , ed. Postcolonial Plays: an anthology (Routledge, 2001); Jahan Ramazani. ed. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, vol. 2 (contains postcolonial poetry); and novels by African, African-American, and South Asian writers:

Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart
Octavia Butler, Dawn: Exogenesis
Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome
Saira Ramasastry, Heir to Govandhara
Alice Walker, Possessing the Secret of Joy (Warrior Marks will be screened)

This course studies contemporary poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction by authors of the postcolonial world, including South Asian writers Agha Shahid Ali, Vikram Chandra, and Anita Desai; Australian writers Les Murray, Rosalie Medcraft and Valda Gee, Peter Carey, and Jill Ker Conway; Irish and Scottish writers Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Brian Friel, Sharman MacDonald, and Caribbean writers Derek Walcott, Jean Rhys, and Maryse Conde.  With the exception of Conde, who writes in French, and Ni Dhomhnaill, who writes in Irish Gaelic, all the writers compose their work in English.

The course examines postcolonial themes and techniques in an historical context, asking what “postcolonial” means to writers of countries formerly colonized by the British. Topics include colonization and decolonization (the British Empire); writing in the colonizer’s language; relations to English, Western, and vernacular literatures; postmodernity; Orientalism; censorship; and the role of post-imperial Britain in the publication, distribution, and consumption of postcolonial literature. Themes of migrancy, hybridity, borders, identity, race, religion, politics, and gender will be discussed.

It will be helpful, though not necessary, to have read (before the course begins):

Jane Eyre
Great Expectations

The Odyssey

Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Course requirements:  two 8-10 page papers (maximum 2500 words; 25% each) or one 15-20 pp. paper (maximum 5000 words; 50%); a midterm examination (10%); final examination (20%); study questions (including Internet assignments); in-class writing; quizzes; participation in discussion, and faithful attendance (20%). Failure of the final examination (with a grade of 59 or lower) will result in a grade of E (conditional failure).

Required Texts:

Agha Shahid Ali, The Country Without a Post Office: Poems
Peter Carey, Jack Maggs.  W&L sudent-authored website on Jack Maggs
Vikram Chandra, Love and Longing in Bombay

Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines

Maryse Conde, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

Jill Ker Conway, The Road from Coorain

Anita Desai, In Custody

Brian Friel, Translations

Sharman MacDonald, Plays 1

Rosalie Medcraft and Valda Gee, The Sausage Tree

Les Murray, Subhuman Redneck Poems

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Selected Poems

Jean Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea

Derek Walcott, The Odyssey: A Stage Version

—. The Bounty: Poems

Articles and books on closed reserve:

Aboriginal Mythology, Mudrooroo [Nyoongah].
The Arkansas Testament,  Derek Walcott.

Collected Poems, Derek Walcott.

Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development, eds. Stanley N. Katz, John M. Murrin, and Douglas Greenberg: Handout: Nicholas Canny essay “The Ideology of English Colonization.”

Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Elleke Boehmer: “Chronology of Key Events and Publications.”

Decolonising the Mind, Ngugi wa Thiongo:  “The Languages of African Literature.”

The Half-Inch Himalayas, Agha Shahid Ali.

Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie: “‘Commonwealth Literature’ Does Not Exist” and “Imaginary Homelands.”

Interviews with Writers of the Postcolonial World, eds. Feroza Jussawalla and Reed Way  Dasenbrock.

The Literature of Region and Nation, ed. R. P. Draper: Iain Crichton Smith essay, “The Double Man” and G. J. B. Watson essay: “England: A Country of the Mind.”

Omeros, Derek Walcott.

Orientalism,  Edward Said.

The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature, eds. Alison Donnell and Sarah Lawson Welsh:   Derek Walcott essays, “The Muse of History” and “The Antilles,” and David Dabydeen  essay, “On Not Being Milton.”

Videos on reserve:

Great Expectations. David Lean’s 1946 film starring John Mills and Valerie Hobson. Classic.
Oscar and Lucinda. 1997 film starring Ralph Fiennes, based on novel by Peter Carey.

Jane Eyre. (2 tapes) 1987 BBC version.

The Mutiny on the Bounty. 1935 Oscar for Best Picture, starring Charles Laughton, Clark Gable.

Postcolonial Literature

A study of postcolonial poetry, drama, autobiography, and fiction in English.  The course examines postcolonial themes and techniques in an historical context, asking what “postcolonial” means to writers of countries formerly colonized by the British.  We begin with a study of late nineteenth-century imperial fictions in verse and prose by Conrad, Haggard, Buchan, and Kipling and turn to recent literature by Soyinka, Achebe, Desai, Ondaatje, Ngugi, Kincaid, Heaney, Irish language poets, and Rushdie.  Topics include colonization and decolonization; writing in the colonizer’s language; influences of English and vernacular literatures; the relationship of the postcolonial to the postmodern; Orientalism; censorship; and the role of post-imperial Britain in the publication, distribution, and consumption of postcolonial literature.

Course requirements:  two 8-10 page papers (maximum 2500 words; 20% each); two hourly examinations (10% each); final examination (20%); study questions including Internet assignments; in-class writing; participation in discussion; and faithful attendance (these last accumulate to 20%). Always bring the assigned text to class.

Texts (in addition to materials on closed reserve):

John Buchan, Prester John
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Anita Desai, Baumgartner’s Bombay

Brian Friel, Translations

H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines

Seamus Heaney, Selected Poems, 1966-1987

Jamaica Kincaid, Autobiography of My Mother

Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Wole Soyinka, The Lion and the Jewel

Derek Walcott, Omeros

Films (on reserve; to be watched during term)

The Commitments
Mississippi Masala

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