Faculty of Arts


Postcolonial Literary Studies

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for ENGLISH 702.


This course engages with postcolonialism as a site of cultural theorising in a globalised world, but especially as a mode of analysis of a large, new field of contemporary literature. In foregrounding colonialism’s profound worldwide impact, we discover a critical lens that offers flexible methodologies for tackling imperial literature, but especially for engaging with contemporary literary texts produced in current former colonies in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Americans and the Pacific.

In taking up topics like decolonisation, migration, language, cultural production and social representation, postcolonial studies approaches the study of literature in ways that intersect with fields such as critical race theory, indigenous and feminist studies. A primary issue for us is the problematic disciplinarity of postcolonial studies, reflected in topics to be addressed, and in a range of questions to be tackled. 

Topics will include postcolonial modernity, nation and narration, fictions of nationhood and development, the Black Atlantic, migrant and diasporic aesthetics, marginality and hybridity, new imperialisms, gender in postcolonised history, the metropolitan and the cosmopolitan.

A general investigation of the postcolonial will occupy most of the course, but this semester we will focus on literature of three special regions – India, Pakistan and the Caribbean.  Such a focus is designed to foster a proper sense of the variety of cultural formations and experiences, social and political practices covered by the concept of the postcolonial, while also allowing a more focused and developed study of a chosen region, its history, culture and literature.


Coursework only

Availability 2020

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Claudia Marquis



Recommended Reading

These will be assigned weekly.  But as a starting point you may wish to look at the following:

Althusser, Louis. On Ideology, Verso, 2008.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Verso. 2000

Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Postcolonial Literatures.

Beckles, Hilary. Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society.

Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks, Pluto Press, 1986

Gilroy, Paul. After Empire.

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic.

Gilroy, Paul.  Against Race.

Gilroy, Paul. There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack,  After Empire: Multiculture or Postcolonial Melancholia.

Jameson, Fredric. "Third World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism". In Social Text, No. 15 (Autumn, 1986) pp. 65-88.

Parry, Benita. "Postcolonialism: Conceptual Category or Chimera?" in Yearbook of English Studies, vol 27, The Politics of Postcolonial Criticism (1997), pp. 3-21.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. [I recommend the 2nd ed., which has an appendix where Said responds to critics of his concept of Orientalism.] Orientalism is considered by many as the founding work on which postcolonial theory developed.

Spivak, Gayatri. "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Nelson and Grossberg, Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, pp. 271-313.

Wa’Thiongo, Ngugi.  Decolonising the Mind.

Young, Robert, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race (Routledge, 1995)


ENGLISH 702: 30.0 points



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