LITR 5831 Colonial & Postcolonial Literature

Lecture Notes

First meeting on Jasmine


poco = nationalism, partition, purity

next wave = borderless


fundamentalism as purity > focuses on women

Men under stress > control, attack women [fundamentalism]

Can break old story, but new one?

obj. 2a:

Can literary fiction instruct students’ knowledge of world history and international relations? Compared to nonfictional discourses of history, political science, anthropology, economics, etc., how may colonial & postcolonial fiction help more people learn world history, contemporary events, and the global future?

History through fiction?

Neither history nor literature can claim vast audiences, but do more people read novels than read history? If so, fiction may be readers' main identification or traction with unknown nations.


Events of world history personalized and made symbolic as events or symbols in characters' lives

Train to Pakistan: separation of previous multicultural community into purer nations or peoples with shared history > Juggah +- Nooran + mixed-identity child

Jasmine: dislocation of India and Pakistan > family story

Robinson Crusoe: colonization as personal, individual story strips out history, makes it a one-of-a-kind adventure, but all England identifies with it somehow


What if you read Jasmine outside our context?

disintegration of community > celebration of triumphant individual self: liberating or scary?


Note radical dislocation between traditional and modern cultures. (Europeans criticize USA for being economically liberal but culturally conservative: economic world changes very rapidly > Americans react by growing more conservative; Americans feel wracked about family and God, vote socially conservative > economy becomes more "liberal" in traditional economic sense (i. e., fewer regulations, lower taxes, weak unions)



Mukherjee's style

simple syntax

time shifts

casually loaded signs



How compare with Lucy?

subject: young transnational woman b/w developing and developed world; fate and freedom

style: quickness of feeling but ephemerality; quick to feel but quick to pass

(ephemeral 1b Of insects, flowers, etc.: Existing for one day only, or for a very few days.  c. In more extended application: That is in existence, power, favour, popularity, etc. for a short time only; short-lived; transitory.)

shifting identity p. 21, 26

29 no harmless, compassionate ways to remake oneself > 121


transnational synthesis of cultures:

8 translates Hindu gods > American sports gods


or points of correspondence b/w cultures

29 rebirth selves in images of dreams


tradition & modernity

Kali appears in chapter 16?

Jasmine 52 Kali Yuga, blows

Train to Pakistan 40 This is Kalyug, the dark age

p 118 image of Kali


Iowa location in USA

cf. Punjab as "breadbasket"



18 Du: 2 lives: Saigon, refugee camp [cf. Lahore > Hasnapur]

41 God cruel to partition; Partition Riots

Lahore: magic and chaos

44 born 8 years after Partition Riots

village of Hasnapur

49 Khalsa Lions, Lions of Purity [Singh = Lion]

smuggling liquor and guns from Pakistan

Lahore was Rome


Reading notes through ch. 17

Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine. NY: Grove, 1989.


For Jim Harris, ardent Hawkeye

New geometry: cf. Passage to India: “rough, not rounded”--Chaos

Chapter 1

3 astrologer

ears = satellite dish

foretold widowhood and exile

x-what future holds

star-shaped wound


4 Fate is fate


a girl shouldn’t be . . .

dhobi = caste specialized in washing clothes


5 husband?

Third eye

Dog carcass

24 now, Iowa—smell it, don’t become it


Chapter 2

6 cf. Taylor and astrologer

cf. Iowa and Punjab


7 moraine


9 Jyoti Vijh

the new Drug Town

Darrel’s first planting alone


8 waters all illegals

our small empire of ownership

Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva > Musial, Brock, Gibson

Corn, beans, hogs


9 Hawkeye


selling > franchise


10 farm > golf course, future non-ag use


10 x-Indian > Hindi


11 a place where the language is what you are


11 [cf. farmers in India]

basic German community


12 Bud wounded in war between my fate and my will

so potent, a goddess


13 three on 300 acres vs 9 on 30

adoption agency


Du Rugglemeyer < Du Thien

Cf. voices on telephone, Northern California


14 Asia = soy-bean market

Asia transformed him

Boat people in their prisons


15 Fates are so intertwined in the modern world

Hasnapur woman old at 22


broken pitcher, no insides and outsides > Absolute


16 poverty stories [scarcity, hoarding]

Education, mission, Lutheran mission


17 feelings about family

brother died in Korea

Teas and California

Indian Giver

Monster Truck Madness, satellite dish


18 Du: 2 lives: Saigon, refugee camp [cf. Lahore > Hasnapur]

Chevy Blazer + WW2 tank

Yogi, in control


19 perfect teeth [White Teeth]

globey = gobi aloo + pork


20 frontier creeps closer

business x moral decisions

[cf. monsoon]


21 third eye, lives to come

Jane, Jasmine, Jyoti—ghosts

Out there, the darkness


Chapter 3

23 discipline, strength, patience, character. Husbandry

short supply


24 character pays bills or doesn’t

cf. brothers and scooter repair: work and drink

self-sufficient city for hogs


25 cf. Ark


chapter 4


26 plain Jane is a role, like any other

INS agents in TX


27 insane wage

cowboys or Indians

there’s too many of them

I don’t know what to feel anymore

Connection between Mexicans and car payments?


28 border’s like Swiss cheese, mice through holes



29 kids in Saigon, all quick studies

once we start letting go

country so many ways of humiliating, disappointing

no harmless, compassionate ways to remake oneself

rebirth selves in images of dreams

an inventor cf. Prakash


30 computer this summer

hoarded . . . needs to own, x-sharing > survival

secrets like barbed wire

Du & ghosts of men, phantom lover


Chapter 5

31 Dr. Mrs. Jasnani [tradition + modern]

infertility and gerontology


32 infertility guys: Kwang, Liu, Patel

major medical facility: back in Asia

Asian professionals


33 Educated people interested in differences

farmers: alien knowledge means intelligence

darkish > wheatish

“over there”

experience > knowledge; experience forgotten, or kills


34 au pairs, mummies, caregivers

“the islands”

nice hips, wide-hipped continents


35 bug-eyed viewer of beginnings and ends

good with numbers


36 change roles


38 torn open like hot dry soil


chapter 6

39 If I had been a boy

girl children < sins in other incarnations [karma]

undocumented caregiver


40 Jyoti = Light; already Jane, fighter and survivor

God’s cruel: waste brains on a girl, fifth daughter beautiful

A whiz

Shane cf. Punjab; Alice in Wonderland


41 God cruel to partition; Partition Riots

Lahore: magic and chaos

Loss survives

Hoard of English-language books


42 father: Pakistani radio Punjab-language

Hindi = Gandhi


43 a difference, but pitcher broken


Chapter 7

44 born 8 years after Partition Riots

village of Hasnapur

bulb = magic, control


45 hand pump by government [carrying water]

first TV: small families and clean hands

Masterji: nephew in California

Seven Village Girls . . .

Stayed in school


46 village girls cf. cattle

find jobs in Gulf emirate

translate instruction manuals


47 liked doing chores


permissible rebellion


48 [myth > revision]


49 Khalsa Lions, Lions of Purity

smuggling liquor and guns from Pakistan

Lahore was Rome


50 Gibbon

metaphorical and literal converge

Mother Nature too fecund

Modern ladies, education x wifehood & maternity


51 reasonable, modern


want to be a doctor


52 Kali Yuga, blows [ask class for clarification]


chapter 8

53 toilet functions + neighborhood women


54 Khalsa lions > firewood

staff > buzz of power

brass pitchers


55 “Ladies Hour”

a snake!

Women stick together

Enemy not human


56 mad dog . . . come for me


57 “Individual effort counts for nothing.”


Chapter 9

58 Pitaji and bull


59 family life and emotions all illusions

next assignment

“you’re more modern than that”


60 enlightenment: third eye, sensing designs in history’s muddles

scale of Brahma

assignment = mission x-historical


61 subatomic particle, grant application


Every second as possible assignment from God

Mataji & suttee


Chapter 10

62 family ground > scooter repair shop


62 [Green Revolution]


63 Vancouver Singh

bonfire of books under jasmine tree

Jat Hindu

Men’s talk: vengeful, catastrophic politics


63 Sikh nationalists, terrorists + guns


64 outside world of fatal hates

The Hindu

Bombings, massacres

Baptized Sikh

Impure, infidel . . . contaminate

Mataji’s razor-rough head


65 Khalistan, land of the Pure

Leave or be killed

What kind of choice > cf. Muslims

Whorish women

Nonsense taught in temple

All Hindus whores and rapists


66 Prakash

India for everyone

I fell in love with that voice

A danger to us and himself


67 a city boy

emirates = blood money, a rich slave

special talent for fixing TVs, etc. . . .

Love before first sight [paradox]


Chapter 11

68 He’ll move to America


69 “eschewing” [Hindu English]



70 dowry, prospects

carry out Mataji’s forgotten mission


71 mirror < UN jeep [cf. Nooran]

mantra: objects in mirror . . . .


72 read sign: I was special


73 impression: dignity, kindness, intelligence, humor?


74 “what is your name?”

 . . . hear your voice


Chapter 12

75 no-dowry wedding

tractors from Czechoslovakia

caste-no-bar—divorcees welcome matrimonial ads

let one tradition go, all the other traditions crumble


76 horoscopes, fate in stars


76 modern man, city man, trash some traditions

old days, big houses, big families > x-old people

Prime Minister: vasectomy, uterine loops x ancient values


love = control or letting go, independence, self-reliance


77 disrupters & rebuilders, idealists


Jyoti > Jasmine—shuttled between identities

x-spawn, x-ignorant peasants

too poor, too young


77-8 up to women to resist


78 hi-tech: woman’s need to be a mother?

Confusing social and religious duty with instinct

Never hit me

No winning these arguments, read more, stats

Engineer of all the machinery in the world

Rules, if understood


79 deliberate withdrawal vs. absence

shameless saver

detergent-selling door to door

my own kitty


80 scooter


81 what think of America? Too big a country

have a real life

You have to want to go away

I have a real life


83 velvety vs rough and fibrous


84 institutes, “International” + Florida


85 making more of life than fate intended

new fates, new stars

other side of earth, out of God’s sight


85-6 Masterji terrorized


chapter 13

87 manual for VCR + religious show [modern + tradition]


88 relative in US or Canada > latest gadgets

old-fashioned Indian patriot: Gandhi, Nehru

convert to homemade boms


89 Vijh & Wife, Vijh & Vijh

just the steel bracelet


90 Florida International Institute of Technology

Tampa—cf. Punjab village name


90 Indian & Pakistani men, Chinese or Japanese women + Africans

didn’t look like America


91 American visas

can’t live without you

hot-blooded American girls

I don’t think they let Americans in!


92 Indian faces > strange


93 wall mirror > real life wanted, needed

Sukkhi’s face


93 Jace smooth

bomb meant for me


95 “miscreants”


chapter 14

96 no dying, only other planes

widow’s dark hut, cf. untouchables

misfortune contagious


97 bull and bomb [karma]

widow in war of feudalisms


we had created life


98 shrines of husbands

blame the Mahatma

houseful of widows


99 longest line, least detected [paradox]


chapter 15

100 shadow globe: tourists, businessmen; refugees, mercenaries, guest workers


101 zigzag route is straightest

smaller cities, disused airfields


101-2 Filipina nurse & Tamil auto mechanic > Bahrain


102 whole peoples on the move



Cheering Arabs and Africans: Hamburg Hummels (soccer)

Ugandan: Mickey Mouse + flesh wounds


103 my forged, expensive passport

visa stamps cf. organ transplant

Amsterdam, Surinamese Indian + Hindi, Paramaribo > US


Chapter 16

104 In the New World, Gulf Shuttle > Florida

Half-Face, Willie Nelson, Vietnam, demolition expert

Kingsland, a Jamaican


105 Little Clyde, Belizian

Texas vigilantes

Vedic slokas

Woman from Mauritius, mostly Indian, fervent Catholic with French accent

Convent school, Gilbert and Sullivan [106: no work, dead parents, bad marriage . . . ]


1-6 British things were gone or never arrived

dead dog

Kingsland: farewell present of knife

Count on dat . . . when de end of de world come in


107 nuclear plant: complicated but seemingly purposeful patterns

Eden’s waste

White men with sneering faces

Du also remembers


Chapter 17

109 I wonder if bud even sees the America I do

unproductive projects

motel with plywood windows


110 landscape: monsoon season in Punjab

abandoned semi bunkhouse for undocumenteds

Baba > Bubba


111 reset  your ears

nigger-shipping bizness x-last names

What was fated to happen would happen

My mission, thank God, was nearly over


113 a man with too many options


114 travel light

my mission: husband’s suit to America

Mataji: all acts are connected [cf. Passage to India]


115 salwar pants


116 understood what evil was about . . . not being human

an underworld of evil



117 Western shower, cf. miracle, tiles and porcelain > a kind of purity

what if my mission was not yet over?


118 plenty of time to die

[Kali image]


119 monstrous, infinitesimal taking of a human life

purified myself once again


120 fingerprint evidence > wiped the sink and shower taps

said my prayers for the dead


121 my body merely the shell

traveling light



Jenna Zucha

Video Highlights: Rabbit Proof-Fence

Connections to Objective 3a- Is America (USA) an imperial, colonial, or neo-imperial nation? Or an “empire in denial?”

  • Compare and contrast "settler" and "non-settler" colonization
    • settler colonies: USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel
    • non-settler colonies: India, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Philippines
    • in-betweens: Latin American countries like Mexico
  • USA as last “superpower”: resemblances to and differences from previous empires like Rome and England.
  • Issues of American ignorance of larger world and alternative worldviews

Ø  This film represents a type of “settler colony” in which the Colonizers enter the colony and never leave. Their permanency causes great distress and displacement for the Native people.

1.       From this very brief overview, how can Australia’s treatment of the Aboriginal people compare to that of the Native Americans? What similarities/ differences can be made?

Connection to Objective 6- Compared to traditional cultures of the “Third World,” modern cultures of “global culture” or the “First World” usually have little attachment to particular places. Sense of “place” or “rootedness” gives way to abstract space: modern airports, hotels, or malls.

Ø  The end of Rabbit-Proof Fence states: Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families throughout Australia until 1970. Today many of these Aboriginal people continue to suffer from this destruction of identity, family life and culture. We call them the Stolen Generations.

2.       What are the girls doing at the beginning of the film? What does this tell us about their culture and way of life? From Daily Life 2:57-5:20

3.       In what ways to we see the modern culture infringing on the traditional culture the girls are used to? From Unfamiliar Life

Ø  The concept of the Stolen Generations is still controversial in Australia. Some Australians deny the idea, while others recognize it and agree that these children and their families suffered greatly. In 2008, the Australian government publicly acknowledged and apologized for the policies, which caused the Stolen Generations.

“For if we are to fit and train such children for the future, they cannot be left as they are, and in spite of himself, the native must be helped.” -A.O. Neville, From Bred Out

4.       How does this statement connect to other colonial and postcolonial texts we have read?