Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG270Y1Y L0101

ENG270Y1Y L0101 M3-5, W3
Colonial and Postcolonial Literature
Instructor: Irene Marques

Office Location: 45 Willcocks Street, RoomM139 (New College)

Brief Description of Course: This course will deal with a variety of literary and non-literary texts that address the colonial and postcolonial sociopolitical, ideological and cultural contexts and the epistemological paradigmatic shifts from the nineteen century to contemporary times. Most of the works studied will be in the original English, focusing on regions colonized by the British empire (in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, Canada and the U.S.A), though we will also deal with a few texts in translation (from French and Portuguese) that address other imperial and post-imperial contexts. The literary works will include novels, memoirs, short stories, and poems and will be accompanied by critical texts that will help students understand, deconstruct and critically think about colonial and postcolonial discourses, the making and unmaking of realities and the idea of knowledge production.

The following are some of the questions that will be explored: How do European and Western colonial literature serve to map the empire? How do language, rhetoric, literature, ideology, politics and empire intersect? What aesthetic and ethic does the colonial text bring to the colony and what are the manifold consequences of that for the colonized? How do the civilizational European discourses of the 19th century (and those from the Enlightenment period) reflect universalist paradigms that impose onto the world and erase difference? How is colonial nostalgia (or counter-nostalgia) depicted in colonial and postcolonial memoirs of white settlers who leave the colony? How does postcolonial discourse emerge and what is it trying to accomplish? How does it rewrite, correct, contest and denounce colonial ideologies and violence to give way to plurality, restore the dignity of colonized peoples and reclaim truths that had been written upon? How does postcolonial literature recreate and revise culture and historical knowledge? What is the link between cultural liberation and national identity and liberation? How are issues of race, gender, class, nationhood, globalism, conflict, resource exploitation and cultural identity addressed in the colony and postcolony? How do people get along (or not) in colonized and postcolonial spaces? Does the post-colonial really exist or is it a work in progress?

Required Reading: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, George Orwell, Burmese Days, E.M. Forster, A Passage to India, Karen Blixen, Out of Africa, Dulce Maria Cardoso, The Return Isabela Figueiredo, Notebook of Colonial Memories (available at, Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Tsitsi Dangaremgba, Nervous Conditions, Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Homeland, Gerald Moore (Editor), The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry (5th Edition), John M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K, Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place, N. Scott, Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain, Sefi Atta, Everything Good Will Come, Akin Adesokan, Ike Oguine, Sarah Ladipo, Ike Anya (editors), Weaverbird .

Non-Literary Texts: An E-reader with various critical texts on postcolonial theory and discourse by authors such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, and others will be made available through Blackboard.

First Three Authors/Texts: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; George Orwell, Burmese Days; E. M. Forster, A Passage to India

Method of Instruction: There are two important components to this class: the understanding of colonial and postcolonial concepts, ideologies, discourses and contexts (usually addressed in the first part of the class) and how those are manifested in the literary works studied (usually addressed in the second part of the class). A combination of pedagogic methods will be utilized: lectures, short videos, class discussions, close reading and analyses of literary passages, group work, etc. At times, students may be given questions in advance to prepare for class discussions. Classes require active student engagement and thus students need to read the assigned material prior to coming to class in order to be able to participate in discussions and respond to a variety of questions posed..

Method of Evaluation: Participation (10%); in-class close reading (10%); term test (20%); research essay proposal (10%); research essay (25%); final exam (25%).

Link to ARTSCI Calendar Course Descriptions.

Link to ARTSCI 2016-17 Timetable with Room Allocations.

Return to 200 Level Courses.

Return to 2016-17 Fall-Winter Courses.

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