English | Studies in British or Commonwealth Culture
L383 | 26262 | Purnima Bose

Purnima Bose

9:30a-10:45a TR (30 students) 3 cr.  A&H.

TOPIC:  “The Post-Colonial Novel”

Most scholars agree that as the British Empire declined in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the United States donned
the imperial mantle. This course will examine the literary legacies
of both empires, examining novels from newly independent countries
and their former erstwhile colonial powers. While the British Empire
often justified its territorial expansion by claiming a civilizing
mission, the United States legitimizes its interventions by invoking
the desirability of exporting democracy. Other distinctions between
the two imperial powers include the nature of their engagement and
the degree of their reliance on military force, the length of their
involvement in different parts of the world, and their specific
geopolitical aims in various countries. We will explore these
differences as they are represented in such novels as Manlio
Argueta's One Day Of Life, Yasmina Khadra's The Sirens Of Baghdad,
Salman Rushdie's Shame, and Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India. We will
take our cue from Benedict Anderson's formulation of the "nation" as
a cultural artifact that is "imagined as both limited and sovereign"
to ask how the novels envision the future of the nation-state. Our
inquiry will consider how issues of "difference" have evolved and
been articulated in various geopolitical contexts. How these
differences result in the transformation and emergence of new
narrative forms will also be one of our central concerns.

Of course, questions of national identity for many former colonies
are partially shaped by international relations. Throughout the
course, we will situate the works within their historical contexts,
paying particular attention to the effects of colonial development,
the impact of the Cold War and its demise, and neo-liberal economic
policies. As part of our theoretical meditations, we will address
the use of such terms as "post-colonial," "Third
World," "terrorist," "insurgent," and "hybridity." In addition to
providing you with the opportunity to read powerful and haunting
novels, I hope that this class will give you a better understanding
of contemporary events in the world and perceptions of Britain and
the United States abroad.

Students should expect to read selections from post-colonial theory,
take three exams, and write two six-page papers.

A tentative list of readings includes:
Manlio Argueta, One Day Of Life; Margaretta D'Arcy, Tell Them
Everything: A Sojourn In The Prison Of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
II At Ard Macha (Armagh); Yasmina Khadra, The Sirens Of Baghdad;
N.S. Koening, The Blue Taxi; Laila Halaby, Once In A Promised Land;
Arundhati Roy, The God Of Small Things; Salman Rushdie, Shame; Bapsi
Sidhwa, Cracking India.