E304 16320 LITERATURES IN ENGLISH, 1900-PRESENT
9:30a-10:45a TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.
TOPIC: “The Fictions of Empire”
This course will examine one of the most important and problematic issues of the twentieth century – empire. Although the term “empire” may be applied to formal practices of colonialism, scholars like Amy Kaplan, Antonio Hardt, and Michael Negri have encouraged us to redefine empire more broadly. Indeed, for the last century, empire has taken many forms with multiple repercussions, ranging from unincorporated territories, to “special relationships,” to global capitalism. In this course, we will focus on works of fiction published from the 1900s to the present; these texts consider U.S., British, French, and Spanish empires in Africa, India, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. We will apply the term “fiction” not just to the literary form that we will study in this class, but also to the fictions that have made and still make empire possible, such as the construction of “other” figures, or representations of differences between “east” and “west,” “first” and “third” worlds, “white” and “nonwhite.” We will also think about fiction as a way of constructing counter-narratives or counter-constructs that might oppose the sweeping rhetoric of empire and its legacies. In our analyses and discussions, we will investigate exile and alienation; imagined constructions of home, the homeland, and the nation; masculinity, femininity, and sexuality in a new nation or national community; migration and immigration; the development of multivalent, flexible, or hybrid identities; and the use of places such as Hawaii to articulate in between identities or spaces.
Tentative reading list includes Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Onoto Watanna’s The Japanese Nightingale, W.E.B. DuBois’s Dark Princess, Ama Aidoo’s Our Sister Killjoy, R. Zamora Linmark’s Rolling the Rs, Rosario Ferre’s Sweet Diamond Dust, Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt, and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.
Requirements for the class will include active participation and attendance, two exams, two papers (5-6 pgs), one presentation, and informal written assignments.