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Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals

Literature and Colonialism

Department of English,
College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Development Awards
(A competition jointly sponsored by the College and Tools for Transformation)

The study of colonialism has become, over the past twenty years, a fundamental part of the study of European literature and literatures from the former European colonies. This change has come about through Colonial/Postcolonial Studies, a field influential in literature departments internationally. Our proposal is for a series of three courses in Literature and Colonialism at the undergraduate level. This series will educate our students in canonical and non-canonical literary texts while serving two crucial functions: to introduce students in the English major to important changes in the field of literary study, demonstrating the interrelatedness of History, Theory, Politics, Aesthetics, and Culture; and to make literary study understandable within the current global context. Ideally, these courses will serve as a core for interdisciplinary work and prepare students for further study in a number of departments. We anticipate that the courses will be offered sequentially at least every other year, in order to enable as many students as possible to benefit.

This study of colonialism has extended beyond critiques of representations of the colonized in European texts. The field has also highlighted how, for example, Britishness itself and concepts of the literary formed out of colonial relations; how literary production from the colonies in earlier periods is in dialogue with colonial literature; and how we reconceptualize the aesthetic in literary study that calls for historical specificity.

This series of courses is an attempt to move beyond periodicity and national traditions to supplement the English curriculum with a more complete picture of the field. The sequence thus begins in 1492, when Christopher Columbus arrived in Hispaniola and extends, through three courses, to the present. We plan the series to be available to students both as part of the requirements for study within literary periods (covering 1492 to the present) and as a special sequence that will educate them in this turn in literary, theoretical, and cultural study.

Contact: Srinivas Aravamudan
Assistant Professor, English
Barbara Fuchs
Assistant Professor, English
Ranjana Khanna
Assistant Professor, English
Allocation: $31,207
Date Funded: May 1999

Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals