This course trains graduate-level students in postcolonial theory and literature, and it contends that we can best understand postcolonial studies neither in terms of a canon of literary works nor in terms of a discrete historical moment but as a set of key questions and debates that have shaped methods of literary and cultural interpretation and intellectual inquiry over the three decades in which postcolonial literary and culture studies have coalesced (and now, perhaps disintegrated) as a field. We will consider topics such as writing and resistance, postcolonial literary revisions, mimicry and hybridity, and gender. We will also consider whether “postcolonial literature” as a category has a future in the discipline of English literary studies, particularly in light of the ongoing sense of crisis theorists in the field have identified and the ascendance of terms such as “planetarity,” “global Anglophone literature,” and “world literature.” What is the status of the global in the postcolonial, and vice-versa? What is gained or lost when we revise or abandon the term postcolonial? What conceptual significance does the nation-state retain when we talk about global literature?
Authors and critics will include Emily Apter, Homi Bhabha, Aimé Césaire, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Michelle Cliff, Frantz Fanon, Leela Gandhi, Édouard Glissant, Mohsin Hamid, Bessie Head, Isabel Hofmeyr, C.L.R. James, Achille Mbembe, Walter Mignolo, V.S. Naipaul, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Michael Ondaatje, Edward Said, David Scott, W.G. Sebald, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, among others.