About this Course

Course Description

A historical study of the diversity of modern and contemporary Anglophone and related literatures translated into English encompassing the complex transnational and postcolonial nature of much modern writing in English. Prerequisites: ENGL 165W or 170W, or permission from the department. 


Section Description

“World literature,” the literary critic, David Damrosch, suggests, “is not a set canon of texts but a mode of reading: a form of detached engagement with worlds beyond our own place and time.” This section of English 255 takes Damrosch’s proposition as a working definition in our study of “global literatures.” Arguably, postcolonial literature constitutes an exemplary site for engaging with “worlds beyond our own place and time” not in the sense that they serve as a window to strange, exotic places, but in that they often grapple with and are shaped by something that is no longer present, yet continues to linger: the history of colonialism. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the ways in which postcolonial Anglophone writers engage with this history by working within and against the English language and literary tradition. How and why do these writers translate their own realities into the tongue and tradition of their former colonial masters, which have often alienated their own experiences from themselves? In the second half, we will consider translation, a task that is intrinsic to engaging with worlds other than our own, as a mode of reading. What does it mean to read in translation? What do the various modes of translation that are at work in the materials studied say about what constitutes literature? If global literature is a means of engaging with the world, can it encompass visual media in light of the latter’s increasing significance today?



The aims of this class are to refine your critical reading skills and to develop visual literacy for the analysis of image-based texts through the study of global literatures. The readings are intended to familiarize you with the core ideas in postcolonial literary and cultural studies. As much as it is an individual endeavor, learning is not necessarily an isolated or isolating activity. As such, the assignments are designed to cultivate effective writing and discussion practices so as to facilitate productive scholarly exchange and community-based learning.

Download Syllabus, 29 Aug 2013 [pdf]

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