The University of Southampton

ENGL2010 Postcolonial Texts and Contexts

Module Overview

Postcolonial studies critically engages cultural debates concerning human rights, the law, and national identities by moving between interpretive strategies, uncovering silenced voices, and unravelling and displacing ‘predominating’ cultural discourses. Opening dialogues between contextual frameworks and literary texts, postcolonial studies puts into question how we conceive the centres and margins of cultural spaces, and definitions of mainstream and ‘vernacular’ discourses. Literatures from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Indian sub-continent representative of cultures emerging from colonial rule can be described as postcolonial. Postcolonial studies also refers to the work of theorists, such as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, and Gayatri Spivak, all of whom address the relationship between history and literature through multiple points of enquiry.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• introduce you to postcolonial literatures from Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian sub- continent • encourage you to think of the relationship between history, theory and literary production in relation to postcolonial literatures

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • some key postcolonial texts and the ways in which they engage with questions of language, form, colonial histories and contemporary postcolonial developments
  • contemporary theoretical debates to do with gender, race and class and their relevance for reading literary narratives
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • carry out your own research on a topic
  • participate in and contribute to group discussion
  • make oral presentations and set the terms for discussion
  • follow a central argument in your writing
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • read complex and multilayered novels
  • tune into the multiple discourses (historical, scientific, literary, popular) through which the colonial enterprise was justified and resisted
  • show an awareness of how questions of gender, race and class are represented through visual, written and oral media
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop a critical vocabulary for thinking about questions of marginal and canonical literatures
  • think of the politics of how “centres” and “margins” get instituted within mainstream literary studies
  • think critically about how readers are positioned and their investment in reading literatures of “difference”


This course introduces you to postcolonial literatures from Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent. Key debates within postcolonial studies will be studied through the work of theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Stuart Hall and Mary Louise Pratt among others. These theoretical discussions will provide a contextual framework for reading literary texts by writers such as J.M.Coetzee, Maryse Conde, Erna Brodber, Ngugi wa Thiong’ó, Amitav Ghosh and Salman Rushdie. Key questions we will think about will include: the relationship between history and literature, centres and margins, mainstream and “vernacular” Englishes, readers and texts, genres and narratives and, of course colonialism and postcolonialism.

Special Features

Knowledge and understanding will be developed through attendance at lectures, individual reading and individual research for essay work. Seminar preparation and discussions will help you in the close analysis of a wide range of historical, theoretical and literary sources. Individual consultation and feedback sessions on essays will help you improve your written style and bibliographical skills. Doing seminar presentations and leading group discussions will develop transferable skills in developing an agenda, maintaining focused but flexible discussion, and speaking to and engaging with an audience.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Seminars • Office hours for individual feedback on essays Learning activities include • Office hours for individual feedback on essays • Introducing a seminar through oral presentations • Small group work focusing on close readings of theoretical material Innovative or special features of this module ? Its emphasis on showing students how to apply complex theoretical material to read literary texts

Independent Study252
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Pauline Melville (1998). The Migration of Ghosts. 

Arjun Appadurai (1997). Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. 

Alex La Guma (1972). In the Fog of the Season's End. 

J.M. Coetzee (1988). Foe. 

Salman Rushdie (1980). Midnight’s Children. 

Ngugi wa Thiongo (1989). The River Between. 

Henry Louis Gates. Ed (1985). “Race,” Writing, and Difference. 

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1990). The Post-Colonial Critic. Ed. Sarah Harasym. 

Sam Selvon (1956). The Lonely Londoners. 

Aijaz Ahmad (1992). In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures. 

Frantz Fanon (1986). Black Skin, White Masks. 

Edward Said (1993). Culture and Imperialism. 

Homi. Bhabha (1994). The Location of Culture. 

Maryse Conde (2000). I, Tituba. 

Edward Said (1978). Orientalism. 

Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart (1984). w to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic. Trans. David Kunzle. 

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1993). Outside in the Teaching Machine. 

Kiran Desai (2006). The Inheritance of Loss. 

Amitav Ghosh (1998). The Circle of Reason. 

Chimamanda Adichie (2009). The Thing Around Your Neck. 

Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein (1991). Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities. 

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1988). In Other Worlds. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 65%
Examination  (2 hours) 35%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.