Literature and (Post) Colonialism

In this class, we will read novels, short stories, diaries, and poetry that address, from different locations, experiences of colonialism and its aftermath. As we engage with texts from Palestine, the United States, Hawai‘i, Samoa, and South Africa, our approach will be comparative. We will think about what distinguishes and conjoins colonialism in these different sites, as well as forms of resistance to it. For example: what “logics” serve to conquer and subjugate another people? How and why does race play such a major role in colonial discourses and practices? How do people resist their subjugation and how does colonialism impact the subjectivity of both those who are colonized and those who are colonizers? As well, we will consider the extent to which “postcolonial” states make a break with processes of colonialism, and ways other structures of domination (especially class-, race-, sex- and gender-based) articulate with colonialism. This course will also be concerned with the interrelations of aesthetics, history, and politics—how, when and why do authors make use of particular narrative codes, conventions, and genres to write about colonialism, and/or to envision decolonial futures.

To help us in analyzing the texts for the course and addressing its central questions, we will draw on insights from scholars of postcolonial, indigenous, and settler colonial studies, and we will trace tensions as well as correspondences among these different approaches.

REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES: Grades will be determined by the following components: two midterms (125 points each); an in-class final examination with a take-home essay of 7-8 pages (400 points); a class presentation and an annotated bibliography (50 points); in-class activities and quizzes (50 points). The distribution given here is approximate. Missed classes or failure to attend required conferences will impact your grade negatively. Attendance is mandatory; missed classes will negatively impact your grade.

ASSIGNED TEXTS: J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace; Sia Figiel, Where We Once Belonged; Richard Hamasaki and Mei-Li M. Siym, Westlake: Poems by Wayne Kaumualii; Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun; Atef Abu Saif, The Drone Eats with Me; Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony; Leanne Simpson, Islands of Decolonial Love; Haunani-Kay Trask, Light in the Crevice Never Seen.

We will read shorter pieces by Noura Erakat, Candace Fujikane, Remi Kanazi, Noelani Goodyear-Kao‘pua, Bryan Kuwada, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, No‘u Revilla, Patrick Wolfe and Aiko Yamashiro.