Lit & Postcolonialism

Following Columbus’s journey of 1492, waves of people
migrated out from Europe conquering and settling lands across the globe and displacing
indigenous peoples. This modern colonialism transformed the world utterly.
Modern colonialism is in fact one of the foundational historical processes of
the contemporary world and the British Empire was an especially prominent
example of this colonialism. This course explores literary depictions of both
colonialism and its aftermath (postcolonialism); it explores both the wide
variety of ways in which the processes of colonialism come to be depicted in
(for the most part) literature written in English and the ethical issues
associated with these depictions.

We will begin the semester with three works written during
colonialism by authors commonly regarded as British—Shakespeare, Swift, and
Conrad. Then we will turn to writers who wrote out of and about opposition to
colonialism—Achebe, Fanon and Gordimer. We will end the semester with writers
like Desai, Trask, Wendt, Kanafani and Kincaid who provide perspectives on
important postcolonial issues. The course will take us to Britain, India, the Middle
East, the Caribbean as well as Hawaii and the Pacific. The literary material
dealing with the Middle East, Hawaii and the Pacific will allow us to explore
issues in ways both contemporary (the catastrophic events in Iraq and elsewhere
in the Middle East) and close to home.

Colonialism raised
difficult, even harrowing, questions for both colonizers and colonized: how can
the conquest of another people be justified? why should racial difference be
given an inordinate importance in human affairs? when and how should oppression
be resisted? what is the ethical value of victimhood? We will engage these and
similar questions through our readings (which include both literary and
critical texts), class discussions, formal written assignments, structured activities
such as debates, and regular web-based activities. This course satisfies
the W Focus requirement. Thus the semester will be concerned not only with the
exploration of literary issues but also related to the writing process.

Required Texts:

·William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Norton
Critical Edition Only)

·Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
(Norton Critical Edition Only)

·Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Norton
Critical Edition Only)

·Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

·Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

·Nadine Gordimer, July’s People

·Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun and Other

·Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

·Course Packet

Assignments and Class Work:

·Course work will consist of two exams (mid-term
and final);

·two essays of seven pages each;

·and other less formal assignments.

The exams and essays—each of equal
weightage—will constitute 80% of the grade. The remaining 20% will be based on
the in-class and web-based assignments, class participation and attendance.