The Craft of Writing
R1A - 004 | CCN: 41030
The Rhetoric of the Other: (Post)Colonial Literature, Criticism, and Journalism
Instructor: Devin Choudhury & Sara Harrison
In Stuart Burge’s 1965 filmic adaptation of Othello, Laurence Olivier, a white Englishman, portrays the titular Moor. He walks with a strange gait; his voice, purposefully deepened, echoes with an odd, unidentifiable accent of his own making. Just one year later, Tayeb Salih, a Sudanese novelist, would publish Season of Migration to the North, in which Mustafa Sa’eed famously declares, “I am no Othello, Othello is a lie.” From whence did these contrasting visions come? How was—is—it possible for a famous English actor to assume the role of an imagined, exoticized North African even as a North African novelist’s characters deny such a role should even exist? Where else can we identify this crisis of representation? What are its stakes? And how can the answers to these questions inform the way in which we understand our own writing?
This course will consider the rhetoric through which the (post)colonial subject is represented. We will attempt to achieve this goal by examining literary texts by William Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad, Tayeb Salih, and Arundhati Roy; essays by Chinua Achebe, Frantz Fanon, and Frederic Jameson; and current journalism. In doing so, we will track the ways in which postcolonial writers responded to and subverted previous colonial forms of representation, as well as the ways in which this subversion is—or is not—occurring in the press. In keeping with the goals of R1A, students will learn to critically examine and analyze texts; to develop strong, original arguments; and to revise these arguments with the help of their instructors and peers. Through reading, discussion, and composition, students will learn to reflect on their own representational practices, considering the various ways in which their analyses can change their readers’ conceptions of the world.