Intro to Lit: Literary History (After Empire)

After Empire: Recent Writing from Asia, Africa and the

Modern colonialism transformed the world utterly and is in
fact one of the foundational historical processes of the contemporary world. At
the beginning of the Second World War, the major modern European empires (for
example, the British and the French) were still largely intact. But in a
thirty-year period following the end of the war, these empires were dismantled.
This course explores literary depictions during and following the dismantling
of empire. In a variety of genres (fiction, drama, poetry), it explores the
ways in which colonized and formerly colonized people represented and contested
colonial exploitation, articulated identities, and grappled with emerging
postcolonial problems. The course, which focuses on Africa, South Asia and the
Caribbean, will engage important movements and issues of the period such as
revolution, the status of women, interpretations of history, and processes of

The course will be
concerned with demonstrating strategies of literary analysis in relationship to
history. How does a text relate to a context? How do writers respond to the
pressing issues of their times? What happens to historical events as they enter
a literary work? Such questions will be approached through lectures,
discussions and close analyses of texts. Student work will include exams, 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 the writing process.

Required Texts:

  • Jeffery Paine, ed.,  The Poetry of Our World
  • Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman
  • Chinua Achebe, A Man of the People
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around
    Your Neck
  • Girish Karnad, Three Plays
  • Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day
  • Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories
  • 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.