Seminar in Comparative Literature (LSE/CSAP, HAP)

Uh huh. But do it free us? – Sonya Sanchez (title of play)


course will begin with the question of why there has been so little scholarly
discussion about the relations among African American and Pacific literatures
(written mostly between 1970-1990 in English), and consider what exploring a
conversation about influences and affinities among them would have to offer. A
coterminous point of departure will be the development of (post-colonial)
approaches that foreground poetics of
among formerly minoritized literatures that are based on
common liberatory aims. The course will approach works of art in this grain as
“acts” that are at once personal, communal, and participatory within the broad
and mobile projects of decolonization, in which national consciousnesses
articulates itself with international movements. Toward the end of appreciating
what and how the chosen texts perform, the course will, 1. review post-colonial
and literary theory relevant for the
joint study of African American and Pacific literatures, including reading
frames such as “minor transnationalisms” and regionalism (the “Black Atlantic”
and the “Brown Pacific”), 2. consider historical moments and arenas when Third
World critiques are taken up by African American and Pacific
literary/political/social movements (such as anti-colonial literature in PNG,
Polynesian Panther Party in Aotearoa, Freedom Rides in Aboriginal Australia),
3. discuss the influence of Africanist/post-colonial critique on several
Pacific authors and movements, 4. read works of African American literatures
alongside works of Pacific literature in order to appreciate influences and
affinities among them, 5. discuss varieties of registers in which African
American arts have influenced or have affinities with Pacific culture


Students will
write one five paper on a specific relation among  an African American and Pacific author (i.e.
Langston Hughes/Steven Winduo, Malcolm X/Haunani-Kay Trask, Toni Morrison/Sia
Figiel), share oral reports on terms, problems, and artistic moments and
movements, and contribute to a manuscript or website on the conversation among
African American and Pacific literatures. While the course emphasis is on
“literary” texts, we will be concerned all along with the conversation among
literary and extra-literary forms, and students may choose to work on other
areas of expressive culture, including connections between African American and
Pacific activism, philosophy, dance and music.


TEXTS: Alan Duff, Once Were Warriors;Sia Figiel, Where ‘We’ Once
; Toni Morrison, The Bluest
and Song of Solomon; Gayl
Jones, Corregidora; Russell Soaba, Wanpis.


Essays, poems,
short stories, critical and theoretical articles will be available on Laulima
and might include works by Chinau Achebe, Chad Allen, James Baldwin, Stu Dawrs,
Elizabeth DeLoughery, Vince Diaz, W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Gilroy, Witi Ihimaera,
Gayl Jones, John Kasaipwalova, Malcolm X., Njoroge Njoroge, Paul Sharrad, Wole
Soyinka, Teresia Teaiwa, Haunani-Kay Trask, Alice Walker, Albert Wendt, Richard
Wright, Steven Winduo.