Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

01  TTH6  LIV  18348  IBIRONKE  TIL-252

From “Third World” to “One World” Literature: Paradigm Shifts in World Literature

We will frame our study of contemporary world literature by starting with “Checkpoints and Sovereign Borders,” a critical chapter in Against World Literature by Emily Apter. This frame is to help us track how the concept of World literature in recent years has responded to the changing configurations of the world order. Our attempt to better understand the key moments and pressure points of the world today through an exploration of representative creative and theoretical works of contemporary world literature will ultimately lead to an exploration of the global flows in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: the intersections of capital, people, and cultural forms.

The second section of the course will use Robert Young’s chapter on “Subaltern knowledge,” among other critical works, to address one of the most spectacular crisis of displaced populations that was highlighted by the washing ashore a Turkish beach of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned in an effort to escape from war. Yet, Aylan Kurdi is only one of the migration horror stories that have proliferated since the period of colonial displacements. Two of the novels we will study: Tayib Salih’s Season of Migration to the North (Salih, 1969), Selvon, Sam. The Lonely Londoners and Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying (Danticat, 2007) capture earlier moments of migration in Africa and the Caribbean.

In the final section, we will return to the comparison of the political economy of the late colonial period which served as the matrix for the formation of “Third World” literature alongside what many have called the “One World” effect of globalization that is permeating contemporary world literature. While significant transformations have occurred from the age of Empire in the 20th century to the era of Globalization in the 21st, for example: India has emerged as a major player in the neoliberal world order; yet, as we see in Adiga’s novel, and Katherine Boo: Behind the Beautiful Forever, these transformations are marked by limits that often seem to negate their liberatory potentials.

Primary Texts:

Adiga, A. (2008). The white tiger: a novel (1st Free Press hardcover ed.). New York: Free Press.

Katherine Boo: Behind the Beautiful Forever

Cole, T. (2011). Open city: a novel (1st ed.). New York: Random House.

Danticat, E. (2007). Brother, I'm dying (1st ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Selvon, Sam. The Lonely Londoners.

List of Films:

Checkpoint, Yoav Shamir (Director)

Life and Debt, Narration written by Jamaica Kincaid; Stephanie Black (Director).

The Kite Runner, novel by Khaled Hosseini, Marc Forster (Director)

Midnight's Children, written and Directed by Salman Rushdie

The Namesake, novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, Mira Nair (Director)

Essays, Chapters and Selections from Theory and Criticism:

Against World Literature, Emily Apter

Dirlik, A. (1997). The postcolonial aura Third World criticism in the age of global capitalism. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.

Ferguson, J. (2006). Global shadows Africa in the neoliberal world order. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press.

Spivak, G. C., & Morris, R. C. (2010). “Can the subaltern speak? : reflections on the history of an idea.” New York: Columbia University Press.

Young, R. (2003). Postcolonialism. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.


Two essays: Essay topics will be distributed well in advance of the date a paper is due. One presentation. Weekly reading reports/Mini-drafts. Class participation

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