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Embedded Resources: SNC

ILS 2010


REQUIRED TEXT BOOK(S)/SOFTWARE (to be purchased by students): On Reserve Downcity Library

Davis, Paul et al, The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Twentieth Century, 1900-The Present, Book 6, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003 (latest edition). ISBN: 978-312-40266-X

A course pack assembled from articles and chapters of other works (with copyright permissions obtained). Additional readings may be added by individual faculty.

Instructors should cover all readings and activities marked “essential” but otherwise are free to select different areas for textual and thematic emphasis. Instructors are encouraged to privilege in-depth, comparative analysis within select areas of inquiry, rather than broad, overall content coverage. Thus instructors should include

supplemental readings or discard optional ones in the service of that goal.

1) European Colonization of Africa: With Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as the central literary work, this unit explores four major concerns of postcolonial studies: a) Colonial writers’ portrayal of the African continent, its history and its indigenous people; b) Postcolonial response to the Eurocentric viewpoint; c) Human responses to moral questions posed by colonialism; d) Impact of European colonialism on the politics of 20th century America

a) Historical, political, economic and autobiographical contexts (Obj. 1)

i) Essential reading: History: Scramble for Africa – causes, contributing factors, effects

ii) Essential reading: Ideology: “The White Man’s Burden” – Rudyard Kipling

iii) Optional: Political cartoons of early 20th century as a visual representation of the White Man’s Burden ideology and its misuse

iv) Optional: Abuse of power, human rights, economic exploitation and corruption

(1) George Washington Williams, “An Open Letter to His Serene Majesty Leopold II” OR

(2) Satirical representation of the abuse of power: Mark Twain, “King Leopold’s Soliloquy”

v) Optional: Joseph Conrad’s childhood and African experiences shaping the author’s view on indigenous people and European presence in Africa

b) Literary analyses of the colonial theme in Heart of Darkness – (Essential: Instructors are encouraged to choose at least two of the following literary theories.) (Obj. 1, 2, 4)

i) Historical

ii) Autobiographical

iii) Race and gender

iv) (Essential activity) Synthesizing multidisciplinary analyses of the novella for an in-depth interdisciplinary interpretation of its colonial theme

c) Postcolonial perspective on the colonial Heart of Darkness (Obj. 3)

i) (Essential reading) Revising history: Chinua Achebe, “An Image of Africa” – analyzing postcolonial African writer’s perspective on Conrad’s depiction of the continent and its indigenous people

ii) (Essential activity) Analysis of Achebe’s criticism of Heart of Darkness through racial, feminist, ethnic, historical lenses of the 21st century

d) Theme of evil: Exploring and applying psychological theories and philosophical concepts to explain human responses to moral and ethical situations presented by colonialism. (Instructors are encouraged to include two or more of the following sections:) (Obj. 2, 4, 5)

i) Freud’s stages of psychosexual development

ii) Aristotle, excerpts from The Ethics

iii) Immanuel Kant, excerpts from Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason

iv) Philip Zimbardo, “A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil”

v) (Essential activity) Synthesizing philosophical and ethical theories to interpret actions of the novella’s main characters in the setting of colonial Africa

e) Apocalypse Now: A modern perspective on Heart of Darkness (Obj. 1, 2, 3, 5)

i) Historical Perspective (Essential 1.a. – 1.d.)

(1) American Empire: Results of Spanish-American War (political cartoons will be used to illustrate differing viewpoints on American imperialism)

(2) Colonization of Africa vs. imperialism of the Vietnam War

(3) Examining similarities and differences between Conrad’s anticolonial and Coppola’s anti-imperialistic themes

(4) Vietnamese as the “other”

(5) (Optional readings) Historical accuracy of the movie: Michael Kline, “Apocalypse Now: The Absence of History”, and Rick Jepson, Apocalypse Now: Hollywood’s Vietnam”

ii) (Essential activity) Moral perspective: Examining cinematic characters’ responses to complex moral situations presented by colonialism/imperialism from the perspective of major philosophies

2) World Wars: In this unit, two world wars are explored through postcolonial themes of: a) evolution of colonialism/imperialism; b) its effect on the oppressed; c) human responses to moral situations posed by the imperial oppression. (Instructors may choose to

emphasize only one of the two World Wars to allow for sufficient depth of study elsewhere.)

a) World War I: Causes, effects and human response to the horrors of war as portrayed in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (Obj. 1, 2, 4)

i) Colonial rivalry and nationalism as main causes of WWI

ii) Essential reading for WWI emphasis – Literary analysis of All Quiet on the Western Front with emphasis on the imperial theme

iii) Germany’s response to the novel – 1920’s and 30’s as a sign of Hitler’s imperial plans

iv) Effects of the war. Examples may include the following:

(1) Psychological trauma of war

(a) Shell shock and PTSD

(b) The Lost Generation

(2) Weakening of European colonial power in Africa

b) World War II (Obj. 1, 2, 4, 5)

i) Essential reading for WWII emphasis – Historical context applied to literary analysis of the imperial theme in Jean Paul Sartre’s play The Flies (Obj. 1 & 2)

(1) Germany’s loss of colonial holdings contributed to Nazi conquest of Europe

(2) Occupied France vs. Free France

(3) The Flies as an allegory

ii) The Flies as a vehicle for analysis and evaluation of French response to German occupation by applying

concepts of existential philosophy and other branches of moral philosophy (Instructors are encouraged to choose two philosophical theories.)

(1) Existentialism: Albert Camus, “The Myths of Sisyphus”

(a) Greek mythology

(b) Themes of suicide, morality and faith

(c) The absurd and existential philosophy

(2) Kantian morality: The Categorical Imperative

(3) Utilitarianism: Definition of happiness and The Greatest Happiness

3) Post-Colonial World: This unit examines postcolonial concerns of history, identity and representation (Obj. 2,3,4)

a) History

i) (Essential: 1.a – 1.c.) Restructuring European realities – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

(1) Examining political, economic, judicial and social systems; culture; religion and gender roles through the native lens

(2) Examining colonial impact on indigenous tribes

(3) Analyzing how the book responds to, negates or challenges Eurocentric assumptions

(4) (Optional) Things Fall Apart as tragedy: Protagonists’ response to inevitability of European dominance

ii) Essential: Role of history in rebuilding former colonial nations: African form of social democracy vs. Western models

(1) Chinweizu, from Decolonising the African Mind OR

(2) O’Kot P’Bitek, from Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol

iii) (Optional) Asia: Edward Said, Orientalism

(1) Chapter 1: The Scope of Orientalism

(2) Chapter 2: Orientalist Structures and Restructures

(3) Chapter 3: Orientalism Now

b) Identity

i) (Essential) Albert Camus, “The Guest” – Factors shaping identity and its impact on moral decisions of White/European Africans

ii) Identity of indigenous people in the post-colonial world (Instructors are encouraged to choose at least two of the following readings:)

(1) Alienation and search for black identity: Frantz Fanon, from Black Skin, White Masks and Negritude

(2) African/Caribbean American: W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk and select readings from Derek Walcott, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Aime Cesaire

(3) (Optional) Asian: Salman Rushdi, “Imaginary Homelands” and Midnight’s Children

(a) Effects of Indian and Western cultures on Indian identity before and after independence and the partition

(b) Hybrid language

c) Representation (Instructors are encouraged to choose one of the following demographic groups.)

i) Gender

(1) “Double colonization” – women as victims of both colonization and patriarchy

(2) Binary division between nationalist political movements resistant to colonial powers and feminist movements associated with these powers

(3) Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, “Sultana’s Dream” OR

(4) Taslima Nasrin’s poetry

ii) Race, ethnicity, social class

(1) Lu Xun, “The True Story of Ah Q” OR

(2) Anita Desai, “The Farewell Party”


1. The final grade will be based on a minimum of four evaluative criteria exclusive of a grade for participation and including a final examination.