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ENGL332 Postcolonial Literatures

Twentieth-century literatures in English from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and India, emphasising the forms of cultural encounter and response arising from colonial expansion and from contemporary contexts of travel and writing.

Some of the most innovative and challenging contemporary literature in English has been produced in response to the experience and legacies of British colonisation. This paper offers a selection of fictional and dramatic works in English by modern and contemporary writers from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and South Asia. They present narrative responses to colonial encounters among peoples, traditions and ideas; the complex processes and effects of decolonisation; and the legacies of colonialism in contemporary individual and/or collective cultural experience. With reference to some of the key figures and essays in postcolonial theory, we focus readings of these fictional works on the ways that literature can creatively negotiate relations between politics, ethics and poetics across a variety of colonial and postcolonial contexts.

Paper title Postcolonial Literatures
Paper code ENGL332
Subject English
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level ENGL points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.

Associate Professor Chris Prentice,

Teaching staff

Convenor and Lecturer: Associate Professor Chris Prentice
Other Teaching Staff: Dr Simone Drichel

Paper Structure

There are generally three or four 1-hour lectures per text (the two plays have two lectures each) and a 1-hour tutorial for each text. Although tutorials are specifically designed to focus on your participation, there is also some opportunity in lectures for you to engage actively in discussion.

Assessment consists of:

  • One 20% essay proposal
  • One 30% essay of 3,000 words
  • A 50% exam during the examination period
Teaching Arrangements

Two 1-hour lectures per week and a 1-hour tutorial on each text in the paper.

Tutorials start in the second week of the semester.

  • Selected critical essays (available on eReserve).
  • Conrad, Joseph. Edited Knowles, O. & Hampson, R. Heart of Darkness & The Congo Diary (Penguin Classics).
  • Fugard, Athol. Statements (Theatre Communications).
  • Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions (The Women's Press).
  • Thiong'o, Ngugi wa. Devil on the Cross (Penguin Classics).
  • Kincaid, Jamaica. Lucy (Farrar Straus and Giroux).
  • Atwood,Margaret. Bodily Harm (Vintage).
  • Sinha, Indra. Animal's People (Simon & Schuster).
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of themes and modes of expression in a selection of postcolonial literary works from a range of continents and countries
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of some of the key theoretical concepts in analysis of colonial and postcolonial texts
  • Reflect on relationships between theme and literary/performative modes of expression in postcolonial fiction and drama
  • Critically evaluate how literary or performance texts intervene in wider cultural, social or political concerns
  • Discuss your views, based on your reading and research findings, with others
  • Independently 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 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system