Narrating the Nation: Novels of Decolonizing Nationalism and Postcoloniality
127 | CCN: 77911
Instructor: Pheng Cheah
The dominant geographical focus of postcolonial literary and cultural studies has been on the literature of British Africa, India, the Caribbean, and their various diasporas in the North Atlantic. The historical variety of colonial regimes, however, makes it more appropriate to speak of colonialisms in the plural and different experiences of anti-colonial nationalism and postcoloniality. This course examines the relationship between the novel as a literary form and the imagining of national community through a comparative study of narrative fiction from decolonizing and postcolonial Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. We will read novels by Jose Rizal (the Spanish Philippines), Pramoedya Ananta Toer (Indonesia), Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana), Salman Rushdie (Ukania/South Asia), and Ninotchka Rosca (postcolonial Philippines) and critical writings by theorists such as Gyorgy Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Franco Moretti and Benedict Anderson in order to explore questions such as the following: what are the consequences of the encounter of native populations with the ideas, cultural forms and sociological structures of modernity as a result of colonialism, and how are these phenomena used to subjugate native populations? How can we explain the rise of the radical “educated native” who plays a pioneering role in opposing the colonial regime despite the fact that the educated native derives many benefits under colonialism? What role can radical nationalist literature play in the continuing process of political revolution both before and after formal independence? We will also consider the use of the Bildungsroman, magical realism and the tropes of heterosexual romance and reproduction in the representation of the postcolonial nation.