ENGL 316 A: Postcolonial Literature And Culture

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
MGH 082A
Joint Sections: 
CHID 250 A
Dr. Anu in a red dress in conversation
Anu Taranath

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 316A/ CHID 250A: Postcolonial Literatures, Autumn 2017:

Black British Literature-- Home Leavings and Home Comings

Instructor: Dr. Anu Taranath----Class Time: T TH 10:30-12:20pm

Office Hours: Tues 2:30-3:30 pm & by appt.

Office: Padelford Hall, A506 (A Wing, 5th floor)---Email: anu@uw.edu

What is involved in leaving a home and making a home elsewhere? How does who we are affect what home might mean to us? This course focuses on literature written by Black Britons—immigrants or the children of immigrants from the Caribbean, South Asia, and Africa living in the U.K.  We will read novels, short stories, critical essays and screen films, all of which thematize notions of home, racial identity and imperialism’s legacy. Through our discussions, we will begin to engage with some of the issues that are salient for many migrants and people of color in the UK, and extend our analysis to America as well.  While there are no prerequisites for this class, a willingness to learn about issues of power, privilege, racial identity, immigration, cultural assimilation, colonialism, imperialism, racism, class relations, gender, sexism, and sexuality will serve you well.


Course Goals:

By reading and discussing such a wide variety of texts and literature, the course encourages students toward four interrelated goals:

--to begin to understand how literary cultures function in relation to lived social realities.

--to begin to unravel the complicated historical and social ramifications of colonialism and imperialism

-- to begin to understand how historical relationships of power, race, and privilege have shaped our contemporary world.

--to build and nurture a collegial community of critical thinkers, readers and scholars.


Required Texts:

Lara—B. Evaristo
The Intended
—David Dabydeen
Small Island—Andrea Levy
Escape to an Autumn Pavement—Andrew Salkey

assorted readings on Canvas

Course expectations: all readings & assignments completed on assigned days; attendance in class and workshops, course work to be turned in on time; engagement and respectfulness toward colleagues and course ideas. Late papers will not be accepted unless something quite dramatic occurs. If you are absent from class, first check with two of your classmates to find out what you have missed and exchange notes. Once you do this you can contact me for additional information. I may post reading prompts, short questions, and other course information on our class Canvas page, so configure your notifications appropriately.

Assignments and Grade Distribution:

First Look Epistemology paper—10%
Current Events Analysis—10%
Midterm Project—30%
Final Project—30%


 Paper 1: Your First Look Epistemology--due Thurs Oct 5th at beginning of class

How is it you have come to know what you know about how "the world" is divided? How does who you are effect what you know about this topic? What might it mean to think about the world from the vantage point of the United States or the United Kingdom, and how might that be different than from the vantage point of say, Bangladesh or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? This is a Working Paper, which implies a provisional, incomplete nature, and will be evaluated on its thoughtfulness and self-investigation. Suggested length 2 pages, 1.5 line spacing preferable, reasonable font and margins. Due Thursday Oct 5th at the beginning of class. 10%

Current Events Analysis: floating due date anytime on or before November 17th

Find an interesting event or issue in the newspaper or other current journal that has to do with postcolonialism. (We'll discuss this more in class). Research at least three sources on the event or issue, with at least two international (non US) sources. Investigate the actual event, as well as HOW each publication uses the power of language and ideology to make their case and opinions known. Your papers will describe the event or issue with factual details, and go on to analyze the rhetoric used by the publications and its ideological politics. Consider for whom is the article written? What does the writers’ rhetoric and language indicate about their investments, affiliations, or leanings? What is assumed in the article? How is neutrality or non-neutrality being constructed?  Please include full citation of sources. Suggested length 3 pages.  Floating due date anytime on or before November 17th, 10%.


Midterm Project: due Thursday Nov 9 at the beginning of class.

Part 1) Second Look Epistemology paper
Take a look at your First Look paper. Now, four weeks later, have your ideas about the postcolonial world grown, changed, revised, refined, or stayed the same? Why do you think so? How have the readings and class discussions contributed to your evolving sense of how the world is configured and what that means for people's lives? The Second Look Epistemology paper offers an opportunity to chart your own intellectual progress by engaging heavily with the readings and class discussions. Suggested length 4 pages. 20%.

Part 2) Not-Your-Epistemology
When we deeply engage with the stories of people who are different than us, we stretch our capacity for empathy and compassion. Think of a minor character we have read about who seems absolutely, incontrovertibly different than you in terms of identity. Compose an epistemology for them in the first person examining how they have come to believe particular ideas about themselves, diversity, difference and society-- similar to your own First Look epistemology. Base your fictionalized Not-Your-Epistemology on the little you know about the character from what we’ve read, and mostly from your imagination. Suggested length 3-4 pages. 10%.


Final Portfolio Project: due Thursday Dec 7th at the beginning of class.

This multidisciplinary and multi-layered project is designed to encourage you to showcase your cumulative learning.

Part 1)  Essay Question: When is a text only a text, and when is a text a ‘postcolonial text’? What are the pleasures and dangers involved? Cite examples from our readings and class discussions. 

This 3-4 page essay is to be written collaboratively with another classmate. 

Part 2) Dear Me Letter

Write a letter to the person you hope to be in another 5 years. What would you like your future self to remember from this quarter’s worth of thinking, reading and conversation and why? Suggested length 1-2 pages. 10%.

Participation: includes all assigned readings by the assigned dates; active participation in class and workshops; attendance, short writings, short homeworks, collaborative engagement with our class colleagues, timely submission of written work, overall “how you are engaging with the people and ideas of this class”: 20%

Schedule of Readings & Assignments, subject to revision

week 0—thurs sept 28:

week 1—tues oct 3: introduction to course themes, philosophies, pedagogies, expectations, Small Island (prologue).
thurs oct 5: Small Island through page 89, First Look paper due


week 2—tues oct 10: Small Island through page 217
thurs oct 12: Small Island through page 217.


week 3—tues oct 17: finish Small Island.
thurs oct 19: Beginning Postcolonialism


week 4-- tues oct 24: finish discussion of Beginning Postcolonialism & film screening

thurs oct 26: The Intended


week 5—tues oct 31: The Intended

thurs nov 2: Continue discussion of The Intended and read https://open.library.ubc.ca/media/stream/pdf/52383/1.0074536/1


week 6—tues nov 7: The Intended; film screening
thurs nov 9: Midterm due


week 7-- tues nov 14: Lara through page 98
thurs nov 16: finish rest of Lara, plus these 2 newspaper articles:




fri nov 17 noon: Current Events Analysis due on or by this date


week 8—tues nov 21: African Women and Feminism
thurs nov 23: holiday


week 9—tues nov 28: Escape to an Autumn Pavement
thurs nov 30: Escape to an Autumn Pavement


wk 10— tues dec 5: partner work
thurs dec 7: Final Class Portfolio Projects due


Catalog Description: 
Readings of major texts and writers in postcolonial literature and culture. Surveys some of the most important questions and debates in postcolonial literature, including issues of identity, globalization, language, and nationalism. Cultural focus may vary; see professor for specific details.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 11:00pm