Anglophone literatures and cultures (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Annalisa Pes
Annalisa Pes
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Semester 1 dal Oct 2, 2017 al Jan 20, 2018.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course provides students with an introduction to postcolonial studies and literature. We will use postcolonial theory to engage critically with representative Anglophone texts from Africa, the Caribbean, and Australia. Particular emphasis will be laid on the relationship between literary texts and their historical, socio-cultural, and linguistic contexts, within a specific methodological and theoretical framework.
Upon the completion of this course, students will be able to:
- read postcolonial literary texts closely, with focused attention to language, content, and form, and analyze the relationship between literary texts and the particular historical, social, and cultural contexts that produced them;
- demonstrate independent critical thinking in their analysis of literary texts
- demonstrate an ability to structure ideas and arguments in a logical, sustained, and persuasive way, and to support them with precise and relevant examples


“Colonial stories, postcolonial perspectives”
The analysis of texts in the syllabus will consider the consequences of British colonial invasion and imperial dominance on (formerly) colonized countries and people, and will investigate the dynamics of construction/deconstruction/transformation of identity, as well as the way in which identity is rethought, in a postcolonial perspective, as a fluid and changing concept. We will focus on the basic definitions of such concepts as “diaspora”, “cultural heritage”, “nation”, “Orientalism”, “otherness” and will discuss the topics of belonging, displacement, point of view, physical and mental colonisation. Students will be guided through the investigation and interpretations of these issues as they are expressed in the literary texts, and they will be taught to critically reconsider the imperial assumptions stratified in the history of colonialism and will observe the emergence in the contemporary world of new postcolonial perspectives on a historical past that is still somehow very actual.
A) Primary Texts:
- Kate Grenville, The Secret River
- Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
- Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place
B) Critical texts:
- S. Kossew, “Voicing the “Great Australian Silence”: Kate Grenville’s Narrative of Settlement in The Secret River”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 42, 2, 2007, pp. 7-18
- E. Mirmotahari, “History as Project and Source in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart”, Postcolonial Studies, 2011 Dec; 14 (4): 373-385
- C. McLeod, “Constructing a Nation: Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place”, Small Axe, 12, 1, 2008, pp. 77-92
C) Handbook:
- J. McLeod, Beginning Postcolonialism (ch. 1 “From ‘Commonwealth’ to ‘postcolonial’”; ch. 2 “Reading colonial discourses”; ch. 3 “Nationalist representations”; ch. 4 “The nation in question”; ch. 7 “Diaspora identities”)

- Herrero, Dolores, Crossing The Secret River: From Victim to Perpetrator, or the Silent/Dark Side of the Australian Settlement, Atlantis, 2014, vol:36, pp. 87 -105
- Watts, Jarica Linn, 'He Does Not Understand Our Customs': Narrating Orality and Empire in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 2010 Feb; 46 (1): 65-75.
- Suzanne Gauch, A Small Place: Some Perspectives on the Ordinary, Callaloo, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Summer, 2002), pp. 910-919

The course will be taught by means of lectures to be held in English

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Jamaica Kincaid A Small Place (Edizione 1) 1981
S. Gauch A Small Place: some perspectives on the ordinary (Edizione 1) 2002 Solo per non frequentanti
John McLeod Beginning Postcolonialism (Edizione 1) 2000
C. McLeod Constructing a Nation: J. Kincaid's A Small Place (Edizione 1) 2008
Dolores Herrero Crossing the Secret River (Edizione 1) 2014 Solo per non frequentanti
J.L. Watts He does not understand our Customs (Edizione 1) 2010 Solo per non frequentanti
E. Mirmotahari History as Project and Source in Achebe's Things Fall Apart (Edizione 1) 2011
Kate Grenville The Secret River (Edizione 1) 2005
chinua achebe things fall apart (Edizione 1) 1958
sue kossew voicing the great australian silence (Edizione 1) 2007

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam in English at the end of the course.

The exam will assess the knowledge of texts on the syllabus and the capacity to critically discuss the problematic issues they deal with. In particular students will have to demonstrate:

- knowledge of the major tenets of postcolonial theory;
- knowledge of texts and contexts (to know the history of colonization and decolonization of the main former British colonies, and to be able to read primary texts within their historical, geographical and political framework)
- capacity to critically comment literary texts (to be able to discuss and analyse literary texts in a thoughtful manner and with the aid of critical works);
- knowledge of the critical debate on texts (to know and be able to use theoretical tools)
- ability to express the critical interpretations of texts in clear and effective manners.

Students will have to bring their own primary texts at the exam.
The programme will be valid for two academic years (i.e. until February 2020)

Students are admitted to the exam ONLY after passing English Language 1 and English Literature 1.