Intro to Lit: Literary History

Madness and Disease in Island Narratives

The relationship between fear and desire in constructing empire is often represented in the portrayal of the tropical island as a space of contamination, simultaneously fertile and infested. Yet disease as imagined by the colonizer may become a productive space through which the colonized subject can assert a performance of healing. In this course, we ask: how is the history of madness and disease used to construct the colony? How is it deployed in writing from island spaces as an antidote to normative colonial structures? Could the cure be found by consuming the very thing that poisons?

As a writing intensive course, students will be expected to write their own explications and analyses grounded in their understanding of the literary history and colonial constructions contained in the text. The course is designed to facilitate the compositional requirement through lectures, drafting, workshops, and conferences.


Tentative Texts:

On Madness

  •      Albert Wendt, Pouliuli [novel] (1977)
  •      Subramani, The Fantasy Eaters: Stories from Fiji [short story] (1988)

On Hysteria

  •      Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea [novel] (1966)
  •      Sia Figiel, Where We Once Belonged [novel] (1996)
  •      Merlinda Bobis, Fish-hair Woman [novel] (2012)

On Disease

  •       Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, Tropical Malady [film] (2004)
  •       Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Iep Jāltok [poetry] (2014)

These texts remain subject to change.