Lit & Postcolonialism

This course offers an overview of literary and critical responses in English to the “post-colonial condition,” which Albert Wendt has described as not simply “after,” but as “around,” “through,” “out of,” “alongside,” and “against” colonialism. The authors discussed—and the course—assume the power of art and critical theory to clarify and redirect thought. One line of analysis deals as well with the problematic of Native-Settler relations in the post-colonial period, particularly in locations where indigenous lands remain occupied. The course attempts, 1. to appreciate works by individual authors who grapple with meaning and experience in post/neo/colonial contexts; 2. to consider how literary/critical texts articulate with social movements or collective aspirations (whether within national, regional, or internationalist frameworks); and 3. to explore the emergence of postcolonial aesthetics/ethics, concerned in broad senses with ecology and the human right to continuity of culture, and to creating alter-modernities to those pursued within neoliberal “globalization.” While the readings will be chosen from various cultural locations, including diasporic ones, and while the course aims to show influences and affinities among diverse anti-colonial traditions, we will center on Oceania as a region.


TEXTS will include the following novels: Sia Figiel, Where ‘We’ Once Belonged;John Dominis Holt, Waimea Summer; Jessica Hagedorn, Dogeaters;  Albert Wendt, Leaves of the Banyan Tree; Toni Morrison, Tar Baby, along with a variety of stories, poems, essays, and critical/theoretical texts (John Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Epeli Hau‘ofa, Gayatri Spivak, Paul Gilroy, Haunani-Kay Trask, Teresia Teaiwa, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o) to be posted on the course site on Laulima.


GRADING: this is primarily a reading and discussion course. There will be daily in-class writing about the reading, short oral presentations, occasional postings on Laulima, two period-long exams, and a final.