Course Descriptions

01:013:307 Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures and Theories, Spring 2017

Course Offered: Spring 2017

Postcolonialism may be defined, following Robert Young, as the perspective provided by theories that "analyze the material and epistemological conditions of postcoloniality and seek to combat the continuing, often covert operation of an imperialist system of economic, political and cultural domination." Thus, postcolonial theories examine the postcolonial condition in the period after decolonization as well as resist the continuing effects of imperialism and colonialism on the affected countries.

In this course we will examine the postcolonial condition by discussing major postcolonial literary and filmic texts through the lens of postcolonial theories. We will treat texts from Africa and India, two areas to which postcolonial theories are most often applied. But we will also discuss a text from Indonesia, an area less often theorized in postcolonial studies; and we will ask the question of how we might consider the postcolonial experience in a text from the Philippines, which underwent more than one form of colonial domination, and over a long period of time (1565-1946).

The course aims to develop the student's capacity to think critically about postcolonialism in a comparative framework. Particular issues that we will consider are postcolonial literature as a strategy of resistance to colonialism, the negotiation of national identities at the intersection of the local and the global, and concepts of hybridity, gender, and the subaltern in the formation of colonial and postcolonial identities.

Readings will include: Sembène Ousmane—Xala (novel and film); Pramoedya Ananta Toer, House of Glass; José Rizal, El Filibusterismo (Subversion); Mahasweta Devi, "Draupadi;" and Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things. Theoretical texts will include parts of Ania Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism and a few essays from Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman, ed., Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory and other sources.

By the end of the course students should have arrived at both a definition of postcolonialism and how it is represented and interrogated in texts from several areas of the formerly colonized world. Students should further have arrived at an understanding of how postcolonialism interacts with identity, class, gender, and race in the formerly colonized world. In terms of reading, students should have gained the tools to do a close reading of literary texts and apply theories to them. In terms of writing, students should have acquired the capacity to express their understanding of specific texts as postcolonial texts in several short papers.

Explanation: The issue of human difference is crucial to this course, as it analyzes how different cultures have undergone the experiences of colonialism and are now making sense of the era of postcolonialism. Issues of social justice are also central to this course, as all of the literary texts and theories read in the course deal with the relationship between colonized and colonizer, and the resistance of the former to the hegemony of the latter.

This course satisfies the SAS Core Curriculum Goals "Twenty First Century Challenges" (21C), "Philosophical and Theoretical Issues" (AHo), and "Arts and Literatures" (AHp).