Summer 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:383 Colonial and Postcolonial Literature

H1  7/6-8/12  CAC  MTWTH 1:00-2:50PM  05782  DELORME  MU-204

Postcolonial Literature and the Question of Orality

This course asks why “literature,” the dominant English-language concept of verbal art, privileges the written word over the spoken word. Because the silencing of oral tradition, and perhaps even the invention of orality/literacy binary itself, played a key role in colonial efforts to discredit African and indigenous knowledge, we will approach this topic through a consideration of critical and creative work by various African and Native American thinkers. As we read and listen to this work, we will discuss questions such as: Does the literary analysis of oral traditions provide an anti-colonial corrective to literary studies? Or will the methods of literary criticism inevitably misrepresent orality? How significant is the influence of oral tradition on written postcolonial texts? And how might a deeper understanding of orality change how we think about art, politics, history and truth? Primary sources may include literature by D.O. Fagunwa, Véronique Tadjo, Efua Sutherland, Victor Montejo and Humberto Ak’abal. Secondary sources may include theory and criticism by Walter Ong, Eileen Julien, Aissata Sidikou and Souleymane Bachir Diagne. No prerequisites; non-majors welcome.

This course fulfills the Global Anglophone requirement for English majors.