English | British Literature Since 1900
L649 | 26269 | Samantrai

L649  26269  SAMANTRAI (#5)
British Literature Since 1900

5:45p– 8:30p R


The coincidence of postmodernity and postcoloniality in Britain in
the latter half of the twentieth century created a powerful impetus
for experimentation in arts and letters.  In literature that impetus
led to the search for narrative forms that explore fissures in the
hitherto smooth surface of reality.  Specifically, disenchantment
with dominant or official narratives created a pluralization effect
as writers sought to contest historical erasures or to incorporate
marginalized perspectives.  In this class we will attend to their
evaluations of received historical knowledge and literary models,
and will ourselves evaluate their attempts to grapple with questions
of exclusions, erasures and alterity.

The literature of this conjuncture is peculiarly cerebral: often
incorporating non-literary material (historical documents,
philosophical writings and the like) and blurring genre boundaries,
it quarrels with the disciplinary production of knowledge.  This
querulous and suspicious body of work is also unusually
entertaining, as humor and irony are primary weapons in its arsenal
against the pomposity of certainty.  Students should be prepared to
enjoy their reading and perhaps even to (re)discover the pleasure of
the text, even as they consider the weighty questions that make late
twentieth-century literature a particularly compelling site of
social engagement.

Primary texts will be drawn from the following list*:
Sam Selvon, Lonely Londoners
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Arcadia
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
John Berger, A Fortunate Man
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
J.M. Coetzee, Foe
Carolyn Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman
Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses
Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot
Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River
Bernadine Evaristo, The Emperor’s Babe
David Mitchell, Black Swan Green
Amitav Ghosh, In An Antique Land

Our theoretical lens will be provided in part by:
Jean Françcois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition
Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism
Gallagher and Greenblatt, Practicing New Historicism
Gayatri Spivak, from Ethics, Subalternity and the Critique of
Postcolonial Reason
Ranajit Guha, “The Prose of Counter Insurgency”
Paul Gilroy, either The Black Atlantic or selected essays
And more to come…

In addition, readings on individual texts will be provided by class
participants.  The writing assignments for the class—a review essay
and a conference presentation approximately 10 pages each—are
designed to provide rehearsals for the writing expectations of the
profession.  Students may also expect to contribute one in-class
research presentation (the basis for the review essay) and a close