1A: Reading & Composition
The course has as its theme the question of feminism in colonial contexts; we will thus read texts that address the relation between White Western Feminism and women in colonized contexts; more specifically: the extent to which the fact that women in the West suffered and are still suffering from exclusion and subordination by a patriarchal capitalist system mean that Western feminist discourse on colonized women would be less racist or sexist than the colonial discourse on colonized peoples. The texts we read in this course revolve, then, around the question of the possibility of a feminist discourse that escapes the colonial discourse about colonized women, and thus its ability to escape reproducing the same colonial capitalist structures of which sexism and patriarchy are an integral part. In addition, the texts address other related questions such as what does it mean to be a woman, does being a woman allow for a different knowledge; can it tell other stories, ones that are different from those of Western modern knowledges that have established women's oppression and patriarchy in the West as much as reproduced them in colonized societies. Does feminism have the ability to transcend relations of colonial and racial domination; and thus account for a common oppression for all women; does women's oppression provide a sufficient ground for a sisterhood that is able to challenge the conditions under which this oppression is produced and reproduced. Can Feminism fight against being instrumentalized as a tool for colonial intervention and domination? And finally, the question about the possibility of a feminism that questions the assumptions of a modernist White and Western feminist discourse is addressed in texts of feminists from colonized contexts.
This course is designed to help us develop analytical and critical reading and writing skills. We will work on reading texts critically, tracing their logic, way of arguing and persuading. The approach here is that reading and writing are not two separate processes, we write when we read and we read when we write. The writing assignments will thus help us write what we read in the texts. While the aim of the course is to help us learn the techniques of writing and arguing in a clear, coherent and concise manner, the ability to tell one's thoughts and ideas, argue and support them, is what writing, as inseparable from the writer, is.
David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen, Writing Analytically
(5th edition) (paperback, 2009, 2006) [WA]
Assia Djebar, Women of Algiers in their Apartment. (Translated by Marjolijn de Jager, Afterword by Clarisse Zimra) University of Virginia Press. 1992.