Required Texts:Farah, Close Sesame
Hamid, Moth Smoke
Okri, Famished Road
Roy, God of Small Things
Articles on On-Line Reserve
Course Philosophy and Goals:
In his powerful speech, "The Ballot or the Bullet," Malcolm X talks about the necessity of presenting civil rights for Blacks as human rights. He suggests that the condition of American Blacks is similar to the condition of the oppressed Chinese, the Indians and the Africans; moreover, all of them have a common enemy, that is, the ideology of "white" U.S. imperialism. Taking its cue from Malcolm X's conviction, this course centers around a definition of the postcolonial moment as characterized by U.S. imperial hegemony, by an unequal relationship between the center and the periphery, between the First and the Third Worlds. A corollary of this assertion is that the term postcolonial applies to relationships within the U.S. as well. The First World is not an undifferentiated mass of abundance; rather, there are pockets of the Third World, the slums and the ghettoes, in every major city and town in America. Consequently, althou! gh we will be dealing mostly with what can loosely be called "third-world texts," an understanding of the relationship between the First and Third Worlds also gives us the theoretical tools for dealing with relationships of inequality within the U.S.
The overarching concern of these readings is to look at the ideology of U.S. imperialism, and how this ideology works itself out in contemporary postcolonial fiction and theory. While focusing on four contemporary third-world texts, we will also be reading articles on what makes these texts postcolonial, and what the term "postcolonial" itself might mean. Keeping in mind these theoretical questions, some of the questions that we will be asking through these novels are: how can these texts be read as allegorical of the economic situation of the nation from which the authors hail? What do these texts accomplish by their use of allegory? What kinds of practical solutions, if any, do the texts offer for the problems of their nation?
I expect that through this semester you will be developing not only analytical, writing, and research skills, but also, broadly, an awareness of issues concerning cultural and national difference, economic and political disenfranchisement, and the connections between the different parts of the third-world as well between the third, the second and the first worlds.
1) Papers: 25 %
2 papers, no shorter than 3 pages, and no longer than 4 pages
A third, final paper (5 pages) will be an elaboration and revision of one of the 2 papers that you have already written.
2) Surprise Quizzes: 25%
You can be given a surprise quiz at the beginning of any class. This is simply to monitor that people are doing the readings, and doing them well. If you are keeping up with the readings, you have no need to worry about the quizzes.
3) Presentations 25%
Each student will present at least once during the course. At the end of the first week, I will pass a sign-up sheet on which, students can specify which day they would present--on which text, and which type of presentation. On each text, there can be, loosely, five kinds of presentations. You have some choice on what kind of presentation you would like to do:
+ Author's Biography
+ Colonial history of the nation represented in the text
+ Postcolonial history of the nation represented in the text
+ Close reading of a passage from the text
+ Engagement with criticism on the text (at least two articles).
Presentations may be collaborative.
4) Class participation 25%
I expect each student to participate in classroom discussions. This does not mean that whoever speaks most will get the best grade. The grade will also depend on how you make your point, the quality of what you say, AND on class-room etiquette (which means not simply making your own point, but also letting others speak, being attentive, and being able to pick up on other people's ideas--in other words, conversing).
Week 1: Aug 20:
Aug 22 Prasad (on-line reserve)
Aug 24: Jameson (on-line reserve)
Week II: Aug 27-31: Roy
Mon, Sept 3: Labor day; class dismissed
Wed, Sept 5: no class
Fri, Sept 7: Roy Continued
Week IV: Sept 10-14: Roy continued
Week V: Sept 17-21: Roy criticism. Paper 1 (3 pages) due today
Week VI: Sept 24-28: Hamid
Week VII: Oct 1-5: Hamid continued
Mon Oct 8: no class, fall break
Week VIII: Oct 10-12: Hamid criticism
Week IX: Oct 15-19: Farah
Week X: Oct 22-26: Farah continued
Week XI: Oct 29-Nov 2: Farah criticism. Paper 2 (3 pages) due today
Week XII: Nov 5-9: Okri
Week XIII: Nov 12-16: Okri continued
Week XIV: Nov 19-21: Okri continued
Fri, Nov 23: Thanksgiving, no class
Week XV: Nov 26-30: Okri Criticism
Week XVI: Dec 3-7: What is the postcolonial?
During and Shohat (on-line reserve)
Mon Dec10: Final paper (5 pages) due today.