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Undergraduate English Courses

359:210 Archives and Literature

01 MW8 CAC 14280 IBIRONKE TIL-103A

Archives and Literature
The focus of this course is to familiarize students with scholarly methods for working with sources in order to develop critical approaches to literary studies. Since what is referred to as the "archival turn" more attention has being paid to how literary texts are produced, and the materials and processes from which they are created, which could potentially influence the choice of literary style, theme, and form. Although writers are usually not required to produce a list of their sources, yet, creative writers often consult archives and libraries in the process of writing. Insight into those sources can greatly enrich readers' experience of literary works. This course examines the effects of various archives on the creation of postcolonial literature. It focuses on such sources as oral archives, audio-visual and documentary archives, and archives of memory as they affect the creation and understanding of literature.

Michel-Rolph Trouillot's Silencing the Past will be used to set up a discussion on how writers and critics, in contradistinction to historians and anthropologists use and define the archive. Following up midstream with Jacques Derrida's Archive Fever, and with selections from Burton and Hamilton, we will examine the general theory of the archive and use that as the basis for exploring how works constitute or reconstitute an archive. In addition, movies such as The Name of the Rose and The Manuscripts of Timbuktu will serve to illustrate the complicated history of the archive in general. Jean-Marie Teno's documentary Colonial Misunderstanding will be used to explore the ironies and problems of the colonial archive. We will also examine how postcolonial literature confronts and represents the colonial library in In An Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh. We will in short study how these authors, including Michael Ondaatje in Anil's Ghost represent and utilize archives in creating fictional narratives -- works that embody the writers' unique and transformative encounters with the place and power of records and remembrance.

SAS Core Code: Philosophical and Theoretical Issues (AHo)

Primary texts:
Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever.
Amitav Ghosh, In An Antique Land.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot's Silencing the Past
Michael Ondaatje Anil's Ghost
Carolyn Hamilton Refiguring the Archive (selections)
Antoniette Burton, Archive Stories (selections)
Films and Documentary:
Jean-Marie Teno's documentary Colonial Misunderstanding
The Name of the Rose
The 12 disciples of Nelson Mandela
The Manuscripts of Timbuktu.
Course Requirements
Two essays. Weekly reading reviews to be posted on Sakai. Attendance, class participation and one class presentation. There will be opportunities for extra credits.