We often understand globalization—worldwide interactions among people, companies, and governments—as a recent phenomenon, something that’s unique to our time. But in fact, it has a long history, dating back at least to the seventeenth-century origins of the slave trade and the subsequent building of the British and American empires.
This course will introduce students to the basics of postcolonial and globalization theory. Just as globalization developed out of earlier patterns of colonial expansion, so too in literary studies, globalization theory has grown out of postcolonial theory. We will trace the relationships between these bodies of theory and the phenomena that produced them as we ask how colonialism and globalization have shaped literary works and our interpretation of them.
We will bring postcolonial and globalization theory to bear on a range of literary works that engage with the slave trade, colonial expansion, and their legacies of racial inequality from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1603) and Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1689) to NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (2013) and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016). Readings from theorists including Ania Loomba, Paul Gilroy, and Simon Gikandi will be available through Canvas.
No prior expertise in postcolonial or globalization theory (or any kind of theory) is necessary for this course, but you will need to be willing to grapple with difficult texts and questions.
In this course, students will:
- Analyze some key literary works that shaped and were shaped by the processes of colonialism and globalization
- Acquire familiarity with some basic concepts in postcolonial theory
- Practice applying those concepts to the analysis of literary texts
- Work on refining their analytical, argumentative, and creative skills
Course policies and information (office hours, grading, etc.)