As a term that circulates most widely in literary and cultural studies, the “postcolonial” is fundamentally associated with ideas and arguments about representation (and related concepts of language, discourse, tradition, and subjectivity). In this course, we will therefore, on the one hand, examine the relationship between the postcolonial (or “postcoloniality”) and representation: What is the role of representation in the constitution (or imagination) of the postcolonial? And what literary forms, narratives, and experiments emerge from postcolonial conditions or situations? On the other hand, we will question and examine the relationship between the postcolonial as a cultural formation and historical processes of colonialism, decolonization, and neocolonialism, rooted in economic exploitation and political domination. How does the postcolonial, with its interest in cultural entanglement and transaction (hybridity, mimicry, transculturation) complicate the articulation of antagonism and conflict that is essential to anti-colonial and decolonial encounters and struggles? Can the postcolonial offer critical reinterpretations of influential political arguments derived from European modernity, such as liberalism, Marxism, feminism, and poststructuralist theorizations of power? What role do (or might) literary and cultural creativity play in this pursuit of change? We will address and discuss such questions through readings and analyses of both literary and theoretical texts from different regional and historical contexts.
After active participation in the course, students should be able to
- Understand key concepts and arguments in the field of postcolonial studies and recognize their relevance in discussions of diverse texts;
- Examine and discuss a selection of literary texts and cultural productions from a postcolonial perspective based on relevant research and analysis;
- Construct and express their own arguments on critical issues in postcolonial studies while engaging with the viewpoints of others;
- Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between literary and cultural productions and diverse histories of colonialism, decolonization, and neocolonialism;
- Write effective argumentative essays and communicate their ideas clearly in class and online forums while adhering to ethical standards of academic conduct.
We will meet for 3 contact hours per week on Thursdays from 10.30-13:20pm. Formal lectures and discussions will be supplemented by smaller group discussions in the third hour. Lectures will introduce concepts and relevant contexts and orient readings and discussion. Group discussions will be led by students and explore critical topics and questions with reference to weekly readings.
Active participation 15%
Leading a discussion and discussion report 15%
Mid-term essay (approx. 1200 words) 25%
Final essay (approx. 2500 words) 45%
Primary readings will (likely) include fictional and nonfictional texts and productions from the Caribbean (Alejo Carpentier, Jamaica Kincaid), Africa (Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Wangari Maathai), South Asia (Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy), and Oceania (Vilsoni Hereniko, Katerina Teaiwa). The primary readings will be discussed in dialog with a selection of representative theoretical and critical texts.