Terms and Objectives
Most US readers are schooled in reading
literatures (American literature, English literature) or occasionally World
Literature as "Great Books" of
Western Civilization (with occasional visits to non-Western sources like
Confucius, Gilgamesh, etc.).
for World Literature like
postcolonialism may be
Unfamiliarity rises partly from postcolonial
studies' rise in British Commonwealth or French and other former European colonies.
Americans may resist thinking in
postcolonial terms because many resist regarding the United
States as an empire or an imperial nation, preferring instead to emphasize the
USA's origins as thirteen colonies throwing off the British Empire.
emerged simultaneously with postcolonialism, contributing to shifting terms or
unfamiliar interpretive strategies.
In contrast to the plain style of Anglo-American
scholarship and fiction, postcolonial criticism and fiction may perform extravagantly or confrontationally, sometimes
flouting but other times imitating the neutral style affected by imperial
(Course objectives 1-3 =
primary objectives for seminar discussions and exams)
1. To bring
classic literature of
European colonialism and
emerging literature from the postcolonial world
into dialogue—either conscious debates
between authors or exchanges arranged by later readers, or dialogues between
colonizing and colonized characters in a single text.
To mediate the “culture wars” between
the “old canon” of
Western classics and the
“new canon” of multicultural literature by studying
them together rather than separately.
To extend the colonial-postcolonial transition to a
contemporary third wave of
(Alternative terms: post-national, post-racial, postmodern.)
2. To theorize
novel as the
modernity, both for colonial and postcolonial cultures.
By definition, the genre of the novel combines fundamental representational
modes of narrative and
dialogue as formal but humanizing encounter of
narrative as personal and cultural
trajectory, direction, or history
Can Colonizers be understood as other than
villains? Must the Colonized be cast as
victims? Does dehumanizing the other automatically dehumanize the
self, or may it be liberating?
(Moral opposition increases drama, but moral relativism cultivates
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?
2b. To extend genre studies to poetry and film
(esp. Derek Walcott of St. Lucia, West
Indies [b. 1930; Nobel Prize for Literature, 1992]).
3. To account for
Americans’ difficulties with colonial and postcolonial discourse.
Is America (USA) an imperial, colonial, or neo-imperial nation? Or an “empire in
Compare and contrast "settler" and "non-settler"
settler colonies: USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa,
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
3b. Does American resistance to or ignorance of postcolonial criticism react to this
discourse’s development from outposts of the former British Empire and French /
How may colonial-postcolonial discourse fit into American nationalist and
multicultural curricula? If this is your only colonial-postcolonial course, how
may it serve your scholarly or teaching interests?
observe representations or repressions of gender in male-dominant fields of cross-cultural contact.
Periods & movements:
tradition and modernity;
and postmodernism. (The latter
two co-emerge in
later twentieth century with some shared styles.)
develop environmental thinking: demographics, population
Demographic Transition), immigration, climate change, and other global environmental issues
often occur in terms of developed and undeveloped nations, or
of "space & place": 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.
register the persistence of
millennial or apocalyptic
symbols, and themes as a means of describing
the colonial-postcolonial encounter.
7a. Two prevailing narratives of
Oedipal conflict and
(as reaction to creative destruction)
8. Morality or ethical issues: How reconcile that people like ourselves
or participating in Western Civilization have acted (or written) inhumanely toward others?