Module Identifier EN37320  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr Michael Franklin  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Mrs Carol Marshall  
Course delivery Seminar   20 Hours (10 x 2 hour seminar workshops)  

Brief description

From our post-colonial perspective as 'consumers' of India in such best-selling works as Midnight's Children, we shall consider some imaginary narrative representations of the subcontinent, comparing the Indian construction of Self with earlier colonial, imperialist, and Orientalist constructions of Other. In this inevitably intertextual module, we shall use some of the insights of postcolonial theory to clarify and complicate our reaction to literary texts and the postcolonial construction of the entity called 'India'. We shall consider to what extent the non-linear, magic realist narratives of writers such as Rushdie, while appealing to postmodern tastes, might be said to create an image of India as fantastic and non-rational. To examine the reliability of such an image we shall read some translated extracts from classics of the Indian literary tradition.

Seminar Programme:

1. Introductory Session: Who is the Subaltern and can s/he speak?
We shall look at 'Draupadi', a short story by Mahasweta Devi, the Bengali novelist, in the translation of Gayatri Spivak. We shall examine the resonance of the west Bengali tribal voices which she has allowed to speak.

2-3. Passages to India
We shall consider two texts: E.M. Forster's A Passage to India (1924), and xeroxed extracts from a text written over a century earlier, The Original Letters of Eliza Fay, which Forster edited.

4-5. The Hindu Tradition
We shall look at extracts from the Bhagavadgita, ancient Tamil poetry, the courtly lyrics of Kalidasa, and the divine eroticism of Jayadeva's Gitagovinda.

6. Orientalism, Hybridity and the Pickle Factory
Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Mitter

7-8. Representing Independence
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981)

9. Mother India/Mata Ganga
We shall consider narratives of nation, family and gender in A. Desai's Clear Light of Day (1980)

10. The Birth of Bangladesh
R. Mistry's Such a Long Journey

Detailed bibliographies will be circulated to the class. Besides the texts listed above, students will find the following useful introductory reading:

B. Ashcroft et al (eds), The Postcolonial Reader (Routledge 1995)
Homi K Bhabha (ed), Nation and Narration (Routledge 1990)
Edward Said, Orientalism (Penguin 1991)
Gayatri Spivak, The Post-Colonial Critic (Routledge 1990)
Robert Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (Routledge 1990)

There are also a growing number of excellent sites about India and Indian culture on the world wide web. Dramatic Hindu temple sculpture or delicate northern Indian paintings of scenes from Gitagovinda (with accompanying raga, if you have the technology) can be on your screen in seconds.

Aims and objectives

to enable students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of a range of writing about India, and of the historical and cultural contexts in which is was produced and disseminated;
to encourage students to apply contemporary and cultural theory to the study of a particular body of writing about India.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:
demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the primary texts on the module and a critical awareness of the broader issues raised by the module;
be able to engage in a coherent oral discussion of the texts;
be capable of writing about them in a structured and well-argued way.