The Master’s House: Postcolonialism & Writing Back (ENG 393)

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Are some of the most beloved masterpieces in British literature actually agents of imperialism? What does it mean that there is a “madwoman” from the West Indian colonies haunting the west wing of Thornfield in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? Does the fact that Salman Rushdie was born some hundred years after Dickens’s time and into a post-independent India make him “postcolonial”—or are there qualities in his writing style that make his novels fall under this label?  These are just some of the questions to be explored in this course, which will introduce students to the terms and some of the literary theory of “transnational” and “postcolonial” literature in comparison with the “master texts” their stories respond to.  Students will delve into the relationships between 3 canonical texts of nineteenth century British fiction and 4 contemporary postcolonial novels while completing papers, critical responses, and oral presentations. We will also ask how developments in postcolonial literature affect other discussions of race, nation, gender, and identity and look at broader implications and connections to contemporary storytelling in a globalized and multicultural world.