English 209-01: Colonial and Postcolonial Imaginations
Professor Alexandra Schultheis
108 McIver Bldg.
(o) 334-4689; (h) 389-9716
Office Hours: TR
Course Description and Objectives:
This seminar focuses on colonial and postcolonial literature
from the late 19th century to the present. Following the historical trajectory of
Attendance – A discussion-based class presents you with an opportunity to be heard through both your oral and written contributions. The success of this seminar depends on everyone’s participation, and absences hurt the entire class. Attendance, therefore, is mandatory. If you miss more than four classes for any reason, your final grade will drop one level (e.g., B to B-) for each additional absence – no exceptions. Plan ahead! It is not possible to make up missed classes with extra work.
Class Discussion – Each of you is required to lead one class discussion. The purpose of having you lead discussion is to give you more say in how the class is run and what we discuss as well as to develop oral leadership skills. In planning your discussion, think about what you want everyone else to learn from the discussion. What can we learn together that we couldn’t learn by reading the material through individually? Once you have defined these goals for yourself, structure your class to meet your goals. Please prepare something to say to begin your discussion, and follow your introduction with questions for the class. You may wish to plan an activity rather than or in conjunction with a set of questions. On the day of your discussion, please hand in a 1-pg. description of your class plan. Feel free to make your discussion as formal or informal as you like. Your discussions will be graded.
Writing Assignments – We will be doing many different kinds of writing, both formal and informal, this semester. There are two essays (approximately 8 pgs. each) with assigned topics. You may elaborate upon the topics or devise a related assignment – but please check with me first to make sure that your idea meets the objectives of the assignment. I will grade and comment extensively on your first essay. In order to know if my comments are actually helping you, I will ask you to write a short reply to them. Don’t be shy! You may revise your first essay. Essays receive letter grades.
I will also ask you to prepare typed short responses (approx. 2 pgs.) to selected class texts. These may range from a textual analysis to addressing an assigned question. Think of short responses as a space for you to begin to think and write critically about the texts. I am not looking for plot summaries or “proof” that you’ve done the reading. Please note that short responses are required and graded. They are due at the beginning of the class for which they are assigned, and I will not accept late ones. If you will be absent when a response is due, you may wish to give your response to a classmate to hand in or put it in my mailbox before class. We may have occasional in-class writing assignments as well.
**All written assignments must by typed in standard fonts, double-spaced, with 1” margins all around. Extensions on the two essays will be granted only in exchange for tremendously well-formed, compelling, and interesting excuses. Extensions will not be granted for printer problems, disk problems, and other technologically-related reasons. You must request an extension well BEFORE a paper is due. Late papers drop a full letter grade (e.g., B+ to C+). Plan ahead!
Finally, it is sometimes necessary to change the syllabus slightly as the semester progresses (for instance, to change the day a short response is due). You are responsible for any changes discussed in class. If you miss class, please be sure to check with your classmates about upcoming assignments.
I calculate your final grade by averaging the grades on the two major essays with the cumulative grade of the short responses and discussion. I then raise the grade if you were a regular and substantive contributor to class discussion. Finally, I look at whether or not you have more than four absences.
All work must be completed in accordance with the student academic code. Plagiarism will result in failure of the class.
Class texts will be available either in the bookstore, on electronic reserve, or as handouts.
T, 1/14 Introduction
R, 1/16 Selected Travellers’ Tales (handout)
T, 1/21 Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Part I)
R, 1/23 Heart of Darkness (Part II)
T, 1/28 Heart of Darkness (Part III)
R, 1/30 Achebe essay
T, 2/4 Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman (all)
R, 2/6 Death and the King’s Horseman
T, 2/11 Dangarembga, Nervous
R, 2/13 Nervous Conditions (
T, 2/18 Nervous Conditions (to end) and Aegerter essay
R, 2/20 Aidoo, Changes (Part I)
T, 2/25 Changes (to end)
R, 2/27 General Discussion
T, 3/4 Conferences
R, 3/6 Essays Due
T, 3/18 Walcott, selected poems
R, 3/20 Walcott, selected poems
T, 3/25 Walcott, selected poems
R, 3/27 Kincaid,
R, 4/3 Sidhwa, Cracking
T, 4/8 Cracking
R, 4/10 Cracking
T, 4/15 Devi, “Duoloti the
R, 4/17 Rushdie, East, West (selected stories)
T, 4/22 East, West
R, 4/24 General Discussion
T, 4/29 Conferences
R, 5/1 Essays Due