Postcolonial Literature: Colonial/Postcolonial Dialogues

Dr. Allen Webb


English 539
Winter Term, 2002
Tuesdays & Thursdays 4:00-5:15
Office Hours:
Monday 10-11 & by phone, email, and appointment
723 Sprau Tower

Visit our class web site:
Colonial / Postcolonial
Literary Dialogues



This course is designed as an introduction to postcolonial literature and culture for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. The emphasis this semester will be on reading contemporary literary works from Central America, Africa, and the Middle East within the historical, cultural, and political context of European colonialism and anti- and postcolonial resistance. Though the majority of the reading is originally written in English, the course will also include works translated from Spanish, Arabic, and French. (Students capable of reading the texts in their original language are invited to do so.)

We will use a series of texts as focus works and then, in independent groups, students will explore a series of literary, historical, and theoretical texts that create a dialogue around the focus text.  In this way we will investigate the relationships between postcolonial and canonical works of English literature.

The primary written work for this class will be developing web pages for every text read and pages introducing and connecting specific literary dialogues around the focus texts.  Pages will demonstrate a mastery of the academic content of the course, high-quality scholarship, library and web research, html literacy, graphic and artistic skill, and include and extensive links to on-line resources.  The web site will be created for the use of scholars, teachers, and students interested in postcolonial literature and its dialogues with the British and American literary canons.

We will also have a special electronic conference that will serve as an additional space for discussion and learning. The class will be taught in a new wireless, laptop classroom.

It will be assumed that students have no experience in creating or publishing web pages and these skills will be introduced during class. Additional help with web pages is available in the Information Technology Lab on the third floor of Sangren Hall.

Since this is a discussion based, seminar-type class attendance is essential. Students are expected to attend every class meeting; missing more than four meetings will lead to failing the course.

The class web page and other resources are also accessible from my web site: http: //

Required Reading:

Focus Text
Literary Dialogue
Additional Works (Choose One)
Central American Struggle
I, Rigoberta Menchu
The Nine Guardians
B. Traven Jungle Series: Government, The Carreta, March to the Monteria, Trozas, The Rebellion of the Hanged, General from the Jungle; Men of Maize, Don't Be Afraid Gringo, One Day of Life, etc.
Sub-Saharan African Colonialism
Arrow of God
Heart of Darkness
Things Fall Apart, A Man of the People, Anthills of the Savanah, Gods Bits of Wood, Xala, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, etc.
Middle East
Men in the Sun
The Day the Leader was Killed, Woman at Point Zero
Woman of Egypt, Habibi, etc. Films: Faat-Kine, I.D., Life on Earth, Night of Fate, etc.

Major Assignments

Class Participation (includes reading, electronic conference, and three Focus Text Assignments) 20%

Three Text Web Pages and one Theme Web Page, 20% each


Tuesday, Jan 8: Introductions

I. Central American Struggle

Thursday, Jan 10: Read: I, Rigoberta Menchu, chaps. 1-4.

Tuesday, Jan. 15:
        Read: I, Rigoberta Menchu, chaps. 5-18.

Thursday, Jan. 17: 
        Read: I, Rigoberta Menchu, chaps. 19-23.

Mon. 1/21 Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday

Tuesday, Jan. 22

Attend: 4:00-5:30 "Teaching About MLK:" Schneider Hall, room 2000; and
7:00 MLK Convocation, Keynote speaker educator Marva Collins, Miller Auditorium.

Thursday, Jan. 24:

Read: I, Rigoberta Menchu, chaps. 24-end
Bring to Class the Focus Text Assignment

Tuesday, Jan. 29

        Read: The Nine Guardians

Thursday, Jan. 31, Tuesday, Feb. 5, Thursday, Feb. 7, Tuesday, Feb. 12, Thursday, Feb. 14

Read: additional work treating Central American struggle, research and create text web page, due Feb. 14

II. Sub-Saharan African Colonialism

Tuesday, Feb. 19
       Read: Arrow of God

Thursday, Feb. 21

Finish: Arrow of God
Bring to Class the Focus Text Assignment

Tuesday, Feb. 26

Read: Heart of Darkness and Achebe Essay

Thursday, Feb 28, Tuesday, Mar. 12  

Read: additional work treating Africa, research and create text web page, due: March 19

Spring Break

Gregory Jay Visit "Talk on Whiteness" Date to Be Announced

Thursday, Mar. 14, Tuesday, Mar. 19   

Read: additional work treating Africa, research and create text web page, due March 19

III. Middle East

Tuesday, Mar. 19

Read: Men in the Sun
Bring to Class a Focus Text Assignment on one of the Middle Eastern Focus Texts

March 20-24 Film Festival, Little Theater

Thursday, Mar. 21

Read: Woman at Point Zero

Tuesday, Mar. 26

Discussion of African Film

Thursday, Mar. 28

Read: The Day the Leader Was Killed

Tuesday, April 2, Thursday, April 4, Tuesday April 9, Thursday April 11

Read: additional work treating Middle East, research and create text web page, due April 11

Tuesday April 16, Thursday April 18

Create Theme Web page, due April 23

Finals Week

Tuesday, April 23, 5-7pm

"Final Exam:" Display Web Pages
Course Evaluation, Examine: on-line postcolonial literature courses

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