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ENGL478 A Topic in Postcolonial Literatures

A study of selected postcolonial literary and critical texts from Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Since the late twentieth century, the postcolonial cultures of Australia, Canada and New Zealand have articulated the 'unsettlement' of hegemonic 'settler' national subjectivity. Such unsettlement is justifiably understood as response to the challenges posed by indigenous peoples and other minority groups within these states. At the same time, postcolonial cultures are also 'contact zones', shaped by global influences and phenomena - political (wars, refugees/exiles, migrations), technological (travel and communications), economic (the expansion of commodification and consumption) and ecological (pollution and toxicity, extreme climatic phenomena).

Focusing on fiction from Australia, Canada and New Zealand from the 1980s to the present, this paper examines how subjectivities and collectivities are shaped in response to contemporary experiences and challenges, how identities are negotiated through place and displacement, memory and memorials, and how arts and artists can offer transformative interventions towards more personally and culturally enabling social visions. We explore how the novels reach beyond the limits of (Western) literary realism to encompass 'other' perspectives and 'other' worlds, and we read critical and theoretical essays that help us situate the politics and aesthetics of the novels' cultural interventions.

Paper title A Topic in Postcolonial Literatures
Paper code ENGL478
Subject English
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,142.40
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,661.93

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72 points from ENGL 311-368, EURO 302
Associate Professor Chris Prentice,
Teaching staff
Convenor and Lecturer: Associate Professor Chris Prentice
Paper Structure

This is a full-year paper that meets once a week for a 2-hour seminar-style class. We spend three weeks on each novel, except for Carpentaria, which has four weeks. This is a long and challenging (but rewarding) novel. Please account for this in organising your reading time.

Assessment consists of:

  • One 10-15 minute 15% seminar presentation to the class (followed by submission of a written version of 1,000-1,500 words),
  • One 15% critical reading response paper (1,000 words), and
  • The 30% major course essay.
  • A 2-hour exam is worth the remaining 40% of the assessment and will consist of two questions.
  • Joy Kogawa, Obasan (Penguin)
  • Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen (Doubleday)
  • Thomas King, Truth and Bright Water (Harper Perennial)
  • Andrew McGahan, The White Earth (Allen & Unwin)
  • James George, Ocean Roads (VUP)
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the paper, you should be able to:
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of themes and modes of expression in a selection of postcolonial novels from Australia, Canada and New Zealand
  • Reflect on relationships between theme and literary modes of expression, and critically evaluate their implications for cultural intervention and transformation
  • Demonstrate core research skills of
    • Reading for understanding and identifying the main points of an argument
    • Summarising a critic's argument in your own words
    • Drawing on your own wider literary and critical reading in the course to respond to an argument
    • Correctly setting out references and quotations
  • Discuss your views, based on your reading and research findings, with others
  • Independently develop and research a topic in postcolonial literary study and present your work in a coherently formulated and clearly expressed argument of your own

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Not offered in 2020

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system