Postcolonial Openings

Spring 2016-2017


Darrel Chia

In this course, we examine the perspectives, debates, and attitudes that characterize the contemporary field of postcolonial theory, with attention to how its interdisciplinary formation contributes to reading literary works. We begin by surveying the development and trajectory of the field, particularly as it develops around debates on revolution and compromise, cosmopolitanism, the psychology of colonialism, and anti-colonial historiography. Alongside this, we consider the recent disciplinary revival of the categories of “global Anglophone” and “world literature” through readings on “literary worlds” to to evaluate these categories, and their contributions to ongoing debates about translation/translatability, vernaculars, rewriting, and mimicry. What are the claims made on behalf of literary texts in orienting us to other lives and possibilities, and in registering the experience of geographic and cultural displacement? To better answer this, we read recent scholarship that engages the field in conversations around intimacy, belonging, and human rights, to think about the impulses that animate the field, and its possible futures.  Readings will likely include works by Debjani Ganguly, Kamau Brathwaite, Jean Rhys, Amitava Kumar, Sara Ahmed and Amitav Ghosh. (H)