Postcolonial Theory and the World Literature Debates
Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Cross-listed as COMP416 / ENGL416
When publishers, scholars, reviewers, and critics talk about the massive, beautiful, prismatic literary and cultural traditions outside of Western culture, they sometimes refer to them by their geographical provenance–African literature, say, or Sumerian art–or perhaps by their historical moment–Ottoman architecture, or postcolonial Indonesian poetry–but more and more, the catch-all category of World Literature has begun to hold sway in influential places, and is changing the shape of how we think, learn, and write about non-Western aesthetics, as well as how we participate in our “own” cultures in all their complexity. If we can imagine a kind of literature that truly goes under the headings of “World Literature,” or “Global Literature,” what can we possibly exclude? Doesn’t all literature belong to the world? What might we gain by using this term, and what might we lose? What histories are attached to the various names and classifications we assign to culture and how does cultural “othering” uphold or resist forms of economic, political, and military dominance? In this advanced seminar, we will work carefully through the history and influential writings of postcolonialism as a particular challenge to hegemonic forms of representation, cultural production, and naming, starting with a close consideration of the writings of the movement’s founders and key commentators, including Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Robert J.C. Young, Gauri Viswanathan, Partha Chatterjee, and Homi Bhabha, and consider their influence on later postcolonial writers and critics around the world. In the second half of the semester, we will turn our attention to the historical underpinnings and current firestorm of debates about World Literature, beginning with Goethe, Marx, Adorno, Frederic Jameson, Franco Moretti, and Pascale Casanova and shifting finally to critics of the ideas of World and Global Literature.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: two to three papers
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Enrollment Preference: students who have done relevant coursework in Division I or II
Department Notes: Theory Course
Distributions: Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Distribution Notes: DPE: This advanced course in literature and theory will consider literary canonicity and postcolonial theory's challenges thereto through a deep examination of genre, criticism, institutional power, material conditions of publication, and postcolonial culture's relationship to the legacies of colonialism. We will interrogate power and the writing of history, material and cultural resource extraction, and narrative theory against developmental discourse. Students will additionally consider through their writing the role of academic and cultural institutions in perpetuating race and class hierarchy.
- HEADERS Column header 1 Column header 2 Column header 3 Column header 4 Column header 5 Column header 6 Column header 7
- ENGL 416 - 01 (S) SEM Postcolonial Theory/World Lit