L383 26013 STUDIES IN BRITISH OR COMMONWEALTH CULTURE
Purnima Bose

2:30p-3:20p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC: “The Post-Colonial Novel”

The nation, according to Benedict Anderson, “is an imagined political community” that is “imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.” This course will examine literature from former colonial powers and newly independent countries to see how the novels “imagine” the future of the nation-state. We will consider how issues of “difference” have evolved and been articulated in specific geopolitical sites. In other words, who gets imagined as part of the nation and who gets left out of certain definitions? Despite coming from various geopolitical contexts, the novels on the reading list represent the historical realities and cultural legacy of colonialism, one aspect of which is the spread of English. We will discuss how a number of writers strategically use English (the language of one set of colonizers) to create a new, even separate, literary tradition, which distinguishes itself from the British and Anglo-American canons. We will look at how Anglo-American cultural hegemony has been ensured not just through the institutions of colonialism but also through the domination of western popular culture in so-called “third world markets.” This flow of ideas from the colonial centers into the (former) colonies has not been one- way. Thus, we will also consider how colonialism and emigration have had an impact on the English language, augmenting its vocabulary and transforming the definitions of words.

We will situate the works within their historical contexts, paying particular attention to dependency theories and the effects of colonial economic development. Throughout the course, we will address the problematics behind such terms as “post- colonial,” “commonwealth,” “national literature,” “center/metropolis,” “magical realism,” “periphery,” and “Third World.”

Students should expect to take three exams and write 10-12 page paper.

REQUIRED TEXTS:
Novels:
Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions(Zimbabwe).
Meaghan Delahunt, In The Casa Azul (Mexico),
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (India)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Columbia)
Max Barry, Jennifer Government (Australia)
Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats (Japan)
Also a fair amount of post-colonial theory, including selections by Frantz Fanon, Benedict Anderson, Edward Said, Benita Parry, Barbara Harlow, and Masao Miyoshi