English 5390, Spring 2015

Postcolonial Literature:

Emerging Topics in Postcolonial Studies

Postcolonial studies ambitiously attempts to analyze, explain, and respond to the cultural legacies of the European colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism that have dominated the last 500 years of world history and led to the formation of modern nation states.  This course will serve as an introduction to postcolonial literature and contemporary experiments in postcolonial studies. 
After starting with literature and theory from traditional areas of postcolonial studies (Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East) this class will involve student-led groups exploring areas where postcolonial theory and approaches are currently emerging as a critical tool of analysis. (See expectations for individual research and group leadership)  Topic might include:

  • Postcolonialism and Climate Change
  • Postcolonialism and the Environment
  • Postcolonialism and World Resource Use
  • Postcolonialism, Consumption, and Waste
  • Postcolonialism and Global Inequality
  • Postcolonial Cities
  • Postcolonialism and Disease
  • Postcolonialism in the Middle Ages
  • Postcolonialism and Science Fiction
  • Postcolonialism and Information Technology
  • Postcolonial Film and Emerging Video Formats
  • Postcolonialism and Global Youth culture
  • Postcolonial Europe
  • Postcolonial Latin America
  • Postcolonialism and the Middle East
  • Postcolonialism and Islamic Revival
  • Postcolonialism, Terrorism, and American-led Wars in the Middle East
  • Postcolonialism and Israel/Palestine
  • Postcolonialism and Native American Literature/Studies
  • Postcolonialism and African American Literature/Studies
  • Other?
Because the course is held as a seminar, your participation is vital to your own learning and the learning of your classmates. Attendance will be taken and missing classes will lower your grade. Missing more than two classes may lead to failing. See my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning.

Given the experimental nature of the class this syllabus is provisional and may evolve.

This course will follow WMU policies regarding academic honesty.

WMU has many resources to foster student health and well being. I support the Safe on Campus environment (387-2123). If at any point in the semester if you feel stress, English 5390 does offer free on-line therapy from Eliza!

My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are after class and by appointment. You can always reach me via email.


  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  • Xala, Semebene Ousmane
  • Additional Work of Postcolonial Fiction
  • Foundational Postcolonial Essays by Rodney, Fanon, Said, Ngugi, Bhabha, Mohanty
  • Additional literature, film, essays, etc. as selected by students in collaboration with the professor

Major Assignments

Class Participation & Leadership (40%)

2 Analysis Papers (30% each) Due: Mar 23 & Apr 7

Electronic Syllabus

Jan 12 Monday Introduction

Before Class:

Read: Things Fall Apart

In class:

1. Introductions

2. Form groups

3. Lecture "European Colonialism and Modern World Order"

Peter's Projection, Scramble for Africa,

Jan 19 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day  No Class

Jan 26 Monday Xala and theory

Read: Xala

Read: Walter Rodney, from How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Study Questions) (Rodney, 1972), Frantz Fanon: from Wretched of the Earth, ("Concerning Violence," "On National Culture," "Pitfalls of National Consciousness.")

Feb 2 Monday Theory

Read: "Latent and Manifest Orientalism" (Said, 1978), "Language of African Literature" (Ngugi, 1981), "Of Mimicry and Men" (Bhabha, 1987), "Under Western Eyes" (Mohanty, 1988), "Themes of Resistance Culture" (Said, 1993)

Feb 9 Monday Lit Work

Read one of the following, and bring to class a one page handout (linked below) about what you read and how it relates to postcolonial themes/issues/topics:

Chinua Achebe, No Longer at Ease (1960, Nigeria)
Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (1969, Martinique)  (short) (plus Shakespeare and some theory)
Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (1987, Jamaica)
 J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (1980, South Africa)
Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (1988, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe)
Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood (1979, Nigeria)
Aminatta Forna, Ancestor Stones (2006, Sierra Leone)
Nadine Gordimer, July’s People (1981, South Africa)
Sahar Khalifeh, Wild Thorns (1976, Palestine)
N. Scott Momaday, Way to Rainy Mountain (1969, USA) (short) (plus Morning Girl  and chap 1 of People's History?)
R. K. Narayan, The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961, India)
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966, Britain/Caribbean)
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997, India)
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1981, India) (long!)
Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North (1966, Sudan)
Ousmane Sembene, Gods Bits of Wood (1960, Senegal)
Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman (1975, Nigeria) (short)(plus?)
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Devil on the Cross (1980, Kenya)

Feb 16 Monday The Postcolonial Middle Ages

Group 1: Holly Ledbetter & Becky Straple

Feb 23 Monday Postcolonialism and the Environment

Group 2: Edward Kern, Tim Conrad, & Kevin Vesecky

Mar 2 Monday Postcolonialism and Science Fiction

Groups 3: Luke McCarthy, Daniel Neff, Steve Cracchiolo & Bridget Dooley


Mar 16 Monday Postcolonialism and Science Fiction II

Group 4: Dani Ryskamp, Edward Kern, & Becky Straple

Mar 23 Monday First Paper & Presentation Due

Mar 30 Monday Postcolonialism and Native American Literature/Studies

Group 5: Tim Conrad, Jake Crow, & Kevin Vesecky

Apr 6 Monday Postcolonialism and Disability

Group 6: Jake Crow, Bridget Dooley & Dani Ryskamp

Apr 13 Monday Postcolonialism and Modernism

Group 7: Daniel Neff, Steve Cracchiolo, Holly Ledbetter & Cara Haley

Apr 20 Monday Postcolonialism and Information Technology

Group 8: Cara Haley & Luke McCarthy

Apr 27-May 1: Finals Week

Apr 27 Monday 5:00-7:00 Scheduled Final

1. Second Paper / Project and presentation Due

2. 3-Page self evaluation proposing Participation & Leadership Grade

3. Class Evaluation