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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rahul Krishna Gairola
ENGL 316
Seattle Campus

Postcolonial Literature and Culture

Readings of major texts and writers in postcolonial literature and culture. Surveys some of the most important questions and debates in postcolonial literature, including issues of identity, globalization, language, and nationalism. Cultural focus may vary; see professor for specific details.

Class description

This course will introduce students to colonial history, postcolonial studies, and how both shape and are shaped by topics in diaspora and migration studies. We will read established theoretical texts, as well as new texts that seek to carve out innovative directions for postcolonial studies and its main themes. We will read selections by such renowned thinkers as Frantz Fanon, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Edward Said, Aime Cesaire, Chandra Mohanty, Sara Suleri, Anne McClintock, Stuart Hall, Chinua Achebe, and others. We shall apply the theories to two novels, one which is more contemporary and one that is considered a “classic” text of postcolonial literature. We will engage in close readings of both texts, and ask how form, theme, history, and social relations differ and resound between the two. We will also watch some films that will offer multiple contexts to the course’s concerns. In this respect, we will interpret cultural “texts” in both their filmic and literary forms.

The questions we will together ask are: what is colonialism? How are colonial and postcolonial studies relevant to the immediate world around us today? What are the limitations of postcolonial studies? What contributions to re-thinking postcolonial studies do diaspora and migration studies enable? How do race, class, gender, sexuality, and (dis)ability influence the ways in which we read and mull over colonial discourse and postcolonial studies? Finally, and most importantly, what are the strategies for intellectual and political resistance that these theoretical and cultural texts empower? To narrow down the scope of answers to these questions, we will ground our inquiry in the geographical context of the British domination of South Asia, the partition of the subcontinent, climate and context during the Cold War, and caste and creed problems that continue to affect people living there.

Required Texts

• The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, 2nd Ed./ edited by Ashcroft, Griffins, and Tiffin (544 pp.) • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (304 pp.) • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (533 pp.) • View films, which may include Water by Deepa Mehta, Train to Pakistan by Pamela Rooks, Gandhi by Richard Attenborough, and/ or The Day India Burned.

Course Evaluation 25% Participation and Peer Evaluations 25% Oral Presentation 50% Final Paper with Revision Drafts

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Rahul Krishna Gairola
Date: 09/30/2010