English 337, British
Reading and Conference - Fall, 2011
Meetings: Every other Wednesday at 10am: October 5, 19, November 2, 16, 30, December 14
British Colonial Fiction: Writing the Empire
The emphasis of this course will be on British novels and stories set in what we now call “developing” or “third-world” countries. (I put these words in quotations because those are terms that Europeans and North Americans often use to categorize these nations, not terms that these nations would necessarily use themselves.) While we explore the elements of fiction we will also discover the ways in which the West has defined itself in its relationship with Africa and the East. We will see how British authors presented non-Europeans, and we will discuss how this has affected our own attitudes toward non-western peoples and cultures. At the end of the semester we will read a post-colonial novel, and we will see how one author from a so-called “third world” country presents his own culture and its relationship with a colonial power.
As we analyze how British authors represented non-white people, we will be studying how colonial stereotypes are created, maintained, and modified. But our analysis does not apply only to colonial discourse. An understanding of this process can be applied in other contexts. This semester we will study some of the ways people in power represent people with less power, how they represent the people they are trying to control. This semester, these “others” will be the “natives” of India, Malaysia, South America, or Africa. But in other contexts, these may be any people from another culture, another race, or another gender. They may be the poor, the young, or the disabled.
In short, this semester we will study how literary representation can be a tool of power.
Written Requirements and Grades:
29 - Introduction to course, with readings in colonial discourse theory.
October 5 - Crusoe & Kipling stories. Discussion of Colonial Literature.
October 19 - Kipling and Stevenson.
November 2 - Conrad's "Lagoon," "Outpost of Progress," and "Heart of Darkness."
November 16 - Conrad's Lord Jim.
November 30 - Stevenson's "Rain." Forster's Passage to India.
December 14 - Achebe's Things Fall Apart and discussion of research paper, due December 19.