Global South: New World Texts
Global South: New World Texts’ introduces cross-disciplinary study of transnational texts in English from the Global South, with a focus on prose and poetry from the Caribbean and the South Pacific. In both regions, the local history of writing is extensive and includes notable texts that reflect diverse cultural origins, but also a sharp sense of the new. These literatures are shaped in part by shifting engagement with colonial histories and the implications of new languages, religions and political structures, as well as warfare and slavery.
Early representations of this history occur in writings of British and American writers like R. L. Stevenson and Herman Melville. This course, however, centres on work from writers within the Global South, and on texts that are written in English, but speak of local forms of culture that incorporate European inheritances and local, archipelagic experience. Our starting point is Joseph Brodsky’s comment on the new literature of the English West Indies: ‘the outskirts are not where the world ends – they are precisely where it begins to unfurl.’
Writers studied include two key poets with broad cultural influence: New Zealander Allen Curnow (1911– 2001) and the Nobel-winning St Lucian writer Derek Walcott (1930–2017). Most of the authors studied are contemporary. New Zealand writers range from indigenous trailblazers (Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace) to literary icon Maurice Gee to contemporary Māori writers of short fiction and creative nonfiction, Alice Tawhai and Nic Low. Alongside these writers we will read Samoan novelist Sia Figiel, and the celebrated diasporic Caribbean writers Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua/US), Edwidge Danticat (Haitit/US) and David Chariandy (Trinidad/Canada)
The course explores local varieties of the cosmopolitan, tensions between and within cultures, and changing currents in interpreting ‘global culture’ through literature in English.
It aims to foster critical understanding of local cultures and local literatures within the dominant cultural traditions of northern hemisphere English-language cultures. Students will be introduced to a body of theory that interrogates postcolonial experiences and cultures; develop skills in critical reading and writing; and gain greater understanding of regional and global issues, histories and artistic production.
Course work + exam
Not taught in 2022
ENGLISH 113: 15.0 points