More commonly thought about in terms of literature in context rather than as literature with formal and aesthetic specificity, postcolonial literature indeed cannot be separated from the geopolitical and historical conditions that it emerges from. No literature can. However, to read postcolonial literature only as evidence of geopolitical and historical conditions empties it of its forming and formative activity. In this course, we will interrogate the terms “postcolonial,” “narrative,” and “genre” together in order to inquire about how colonial, anticolonial and postcolonial events are made meaningful through the aesthetic and formal characteristics of narrative. As Toni Morrison claims in “The Site of Memory,” “[Truth] may be excessive, it may be more interesting, but the important thing is that it’s random—and fiction is not random.” Narrative makes meaningful social conditions and events. We will cover a range of imaginative narratives unified by the theme of postcolonial conditions and identity formations. We will begin the course with Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism as the text against which we will seek to define postcolonial narrative. The genres that we cover may include manifesto, realist novel, magical realist novel, short-story, and narrative film.
Through this course, students will improve their ability to ask questions of and to read, analyze, and interpret complex literary texts, using relevant literary terminology critically and creatively. They will augment their knowledge of how literature is organized by historical periods, genres, cultures, and cultural formations. They will improve their ability to express ideas by organizing, developing and supporting a description, analysis, or argument in written formats, within the conventions of academic writing. Finally, they will produce a significant amount of writing such that the course fulfills the requirements of its mandatory W Focus designation (i.e. 4,000 words).