Syllabus: Spring, 2009

A. Required Texts:   

  1. David Damrosch, ed., The Longman Anthology of World Literature: Volume F: The Twentieth Century (New York: Pearson/Longman, 2004). ISBN: 0-321-05536-5 (WL)
  2. Material posted on Sakai under “Texts” under “Resources.” Please note that some of these files are large and will take some time to download.
  3. Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (London: Faber & Faber, 1990). ISBN: 0-571-14274-5

B. Recommended Text: 
M.A.R. Habib, Modern Literary Criticism and Theory (Blackwell, 2007).    ISBN: 9781405176668. This contains fairly thorough introductions to the major critical thinkers and movements of the twentieth century, including post-colonial theory and its backgrounds.             

C. Course Requirements:

  1.  one paper [6-8 pages, double-spaced type; two units]; topic and deadline to be discussed in class;                  
  2. two class presentations (half a unit each);
  3. a journal [3 units] in which students are to write regularly. You should write a minimum of two pages (double-spaced type) for each text, answering a question of your own construction. The journal will be submitted twice, on March 10 and April 28; each entry should be dated and typed. Students will be asked to read aloud from their journals in several classes;
  4. a  final exam [2 units], Tuesday, May 5, 6-9 p.m.
  5. the quality of class participation counts for two units;
  6. anyone missing a reading or writing assignment, for whatever reason, should see me as soon as possible.

D. Course Description

A study of post-colonial literatures written primarily in English in the twentieth century by authors from around the world, including Britain, America, Asia and Africa. These texts will be examined in their historical contexts, with due emphasis upon their interrelations. The themes and issues to be pursued include: 

  1. the problematic status of language; 
  2. the problems of identity: definition of self, world, and other; 
  3. revolutions in literary form and theme; 
  4. notions of exile, hybridity, migration, nation and cultural schizophrenia; 
  5. race and imperialism, including Western views of the “Orient” and Africa; 
  6. the treatment of gender and feminist revaluations of mainstream philosophical assumptions; 
  7. the connections between  “post-colonial” thought and Western postmodernism and Western literary/cultural theory. 

E. Weekly Class Assignments:


Week 1:Jan 20: Introduction:

  1. “Post-Colonialism” in A History of Literary Criticism (Sakai)
  2. Aijaz Ahmad, “Literary Theory and ‘Third World Literature’” (Sakai)
    Empire Writing: 
  3. John Ruskin, Conclusion to Inaugural Lecture (1870) (Sakai)
  4. Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden” (1899) (Sakai)


Week 2: Jan 27: Gender:

  1. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,  Imperialism and Sexual Difference  (1985) (Sakai)
  2. Fatima Mernissi (Morocco), “The Harem Within” (WL)
  3. Hanan al-Shaykh (Lebanon),  “A Season of Madness” (WL)
  4. Farough Faroghzad (Iran), “A Poem for You  (WL, 1051)

Week 3: Feb 3: Political Poetry:

  1. Reza Baraheni (Iran/Canada), “The Unrecognized;” “Answers to an Interrogation;”“Autumn in Tehran” (WL)
  2. Nizar Qabbani (Syria), “Footnotes to the Book of the Setback” (Sakai)
  3. Yehuda Amichai (Israel), “The Diameter of the Bomb” (Sakai)

Week 4: Feb 10: Politics and Religion:

  1. Edward Said,  The Politics of Knowledge  (1991) (Sakai)
  2. Theorising Religion: Muhammad Iqbal, “Is Religion Possible?” in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1984) (Sakai)


Week 5: Feb 17: Poetry:

  1. Usman Awang (Sakai)
  2. Muhammad Haji Salleh (Sakai)
  3. Zurinah Hassan (Sakai)
  4. Essay: Muhammad Haji Salleh, “Some New Values of Contemporary Malaysian Poetry” (Sakai)

Week 6: Feb 24: Short Stories:

  1. Adibah Amin, “Night of Reckoning” (Sakai)
  2. Catherine Lim, “Write, Right, Rite” (Sakai)
  3. Reflections on Religion: V.S. Naipaul, “Conversations in Malaysia: Brave Girls” in Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (New York: Vintage, 1982) (Sakai)


Week 7: March 3: Theory and Practice (I):

  1. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, “The Language of African Literature” (Sakai)
  2. Leopold Sedar Senghor (Senegal), poems (WL, 640-643)
  3. Nadine Gordimer (South Africa), “The Defeated” (WL, 1020-1029)

Week 8: March 10: Theory and Practice (II):

  1. Chinua Achebe, ‘The African Writer and the English Language’ (WL, 953-958)
  2. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (WL, 871-952)

Mar 14-22: Spring Break

Week 9: March 24: West Indies:

  1. V.S. Naipaul, Prologue to an Autobiography (WL, 519-527)
  2.  Jamiaca Kincaid, “My Mother” (WL, 814-817)
  3. Derek Walcott, poems (WL, 1053-1059)


Week 10: March 31: India:Fiction:

  1. Salman Rushdie, “Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist” (Sakai)
  2. Premchand, “My Big Brother” (WL, 122-126)
  3. Mahasweta Devi, “Breast-Giver” (WL, 751-768)
  4. Salman Rushdie, “Chekhov and Zulu”(WL, 1060-1069)

Week 11: April 7: Pakistan: Urdu Poetry:

  1. Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Sakai)
  2. N.M. Rashed (Sakai)

Week 12: April 14: Anglophone Novel:
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (London: Faber & Faber, 1990)


Week 13: April 21: The issue of Marginality:

  1. Homi Bhabha, “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse” (Sakai)
  2. Graham Huggan, “Staged Marginalities: Rushdie, Naipaul, Kureishi” in The Post-Colonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins (London: Routledge, 2001) (Sakai)

Week 14: April 28: Reconceiving World Literature:

  1. Pascale Casanova, “The World and the Literary Trousers,” in The World Republic of Letters (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004) (Sakai)
  2. David Damrosch, “World Enough and Time,” in What is World Literature? (Princeton University Press, 2003) (Sakai)

Week 15: May 5: Final Examination

Selective Bibliography

Boehmer, Elleke, ed. Empire Writing: An Anthology of Colonial Literature: 1870-1918. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
(Contains some interesting essays and poems on conceptions of empire by figures such as Ruskin, Kipling, Tagore, Joyce and Yeats).

Ross, Robert, ed. Colonial and Postcolinal Fiction in English: An Anthology. New York, 1999. 
(A selection of major writers from around the globe, with introductions).

Thieme, John, ed. The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English. London and New York: Arnold/Oxford University Press, 1996.
(A comprehensive anthology but deficient in adequate introductions to each section).

Williams, Patrick, and Laura Chrisman, eds. Colonial Discourse/Post-Colonial Theory. New York, 1993. 
(Includes the major theoretical texts, with introductions).

Primary Theoretical Texts: 
Ahmad, Aijaz. In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. London, 1992.
(A Marxist perspective on Post-Colonialism).
Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London, 1994.
(Essays on post-colonial issues).

Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. C. Farrington. Middlesex: Penguin, 1961.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Black Literature and Literary Theory. Routledge: London, 1984.

Said, Edward. Orientalism: Western Concepts of the Orient. Routledge: London, 1978.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. Routledge: London, 1988.

Young, Robert. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race London, 1995.

Critical Studies:
Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London and New York: Routledge, 1989.

(Notwithstanding its hyperbolic reviews, this book is mediocre. It is, however, a comprehensive introduction to post-colonial theory and practice, dealing with issues of language (English versus english), identity, marginality, and the connection of post-colonialism with feminism, modernism and postmodernism — all on a somewhat superficial and philosophically uninformed level).

Barker, Francis, Peter Hulme and Margaret Iversen. Colonial Discourse/Postcolonial Theory. Manchester, 1994. (Essays on central postcolonial themes such as “nationalism” and “hybridity”).

Benjamin, Andrew, et al, eds. Postcolonial Cultures and Literatures: Modernity and the (Un)Commonwealth. New York: Peter Lang, 2002.

(An interesting collection of essays centred on the notions of British and Colonial identities, focusing on a wide range of authors spanning the Reformation, Romanticism, contemporary British poetry and a number of Post-Colonial authors such as Jean Rhys and Nirad C. Chadhuri).

Benson, Eugene, and L.W. Conolly, eds. Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English. London, 1994. (An indispensable resource).

Childs, Peter, and Patrick Williams. An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory. Hemel Hempstead, 1997.

(Useful summaries of works by theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak).

Jansohn, Herausgegeben von Christa. Companion to the New Literatures in English. Berlin: Erich Schmidt, 2002.   (An extremely useful introduction to various national literatures (South African, African, Indian, West Indian, Australian, Canadian).

Ousby, Ian, ed. The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. (Biographical articles on a wide range of writers).

Stringer, Jenny, ed. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).(Entries on writers and texts in English from around the world).

Young, Robert J.C. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction.Oxford: Blackwell, 2001. 
(A large, authoritative study, with accounts of anti-colonial struggles in various parts of the world, useful applications of post-colonial theories to the particular situations of various countries, and insightful commentaries on Liberalism, Marxism and Feminism).

Some Useful Essays: 
(All contained in Modern Literary Theory, ed. Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh (London and New York: Arnold/Oxford University Press, 2001; I have left this book with Dee).

Edward Said, “Two Visions in Heart of Darkness,” pp. 369-379.

Homi Bhabha, “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse,” pp. 380-386.

Georg Lukacs, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (extract),” pp. 108-113; a classic statement concerning modernism.

Luce Irigaray, “Sexual Difference (extract),” pp. 236-238. Short and bittersweet; and powerful.

Gayatri Spivak, The Post-Colonial Critic (extract), pp. 387-393.  An interestingly hostile interview with Spivak.

Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” pp. 329-337. Readable.

Patricia Waugh, “Postmodernism and Feminism?” pp. 344-358. An interesting historical overview.