Tu/Th 08:00-09:30 205 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students
In this course, we will explore the relationship between how literary empires are forged and how they are challenged. Reading texts regarded as classics of the Western canon* alongside 20th– and 21st-century texts from Africa and the Americas produced in self-conscious relationship to the earlier works, we will consider the ways in which narratives are transformed by authors writing from different historical and cultural locations. In doing so, we will see that, in fact, the canonical pre-texts are also appropriating and rewriting narratives generated by Europe’s imperial expansion—meaning that all of the texts we will be reading are in some sense postcolonial rewritings.
This is a writing-intensive course, with an emphasis on the practice of global revision/rewriting as a fundamental part of the writing process. Students will learn how to develop interesting arguments about the texts we are studying and how to refine these ideas through their drafting and revision of several analytical essays.
* Canon: “A body of literary works traditionally regarded as the most important, significant, and worthy of study; those works of especially Western literature considered to be established as being of the highest quality and most enduring value; the classics (now freq. in the canon)” (OED). From ancient Greek kanon, meaning a “reed” or “rod” used as an instrument of measurement. Possibly derived from kanna, the etymological origin of both cannon, the heavy artillery used in European imperial expansion, and of the sugar cane that played a significant role in motivating and fueling the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism in the Caribbean.
Possible textual pairings include:
Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey (selections) / Derek Walcott, Omeros (selections)
Michel de Montaigne, “Of Cannibals” / Oswald de Andrade, “The Cannibalist Manifesto”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest / Aimé Césaire, A Tempest
William Shakespeare, Othello / Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré, Desdemona
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe / J. M. Coetzee, Foe
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights / Maryse Condé, Windward Heights (La migration des cœurs)
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor / Claire Denis, Beau Travail
Course Catalog Number: 17203