Study Abroad and Exchanges



SEL3370 : Writing the Postcolonial Nation: Literature from the Indian Subcontinent

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module will include novels, short stories, non-fiction and poetry by writers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the region known today as South Asia. In examining the rich literature of the region, we will focus especially on the following themes: nationalism, independence/partition, marginality, religion and secularism, globalization, diaspora, and language. Authors covered will consist of internationally known writers such as Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, and others, as well as literature by Dalit writers and other non-Anglophone texts in Indian languages (in translation). The module will consider postcolonial South Asian writing both in the context of the wider literary production of the subcontinent, and in relation to contemporary processes taking place in the global literary marketplace.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus may include a selection of the following authors/texts (though these are subject to change):
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1981)
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997)
Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (2008)
Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost (2000)
Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines (1988)
Bama, Karukku (2000)
Vikram Seth, selected poems, The Collected Poems (New Delhi: Penguin, 1995).
Arun Kolatkar, Jejuri [1976] (New York: New York Review of Books, 2005).
Mahasweta Devi, “Shishu/Children”, Women Writing in India, vol. II, ed. Susie Tharu and K. Lalita (Oxford University Press, 1993)
Kamila Shamsie, “Pop Idols”, Granta 112: Pakistan (Autumn 2010)
B.R. Ambedkar, “The Annihilation of Caste” (1936)
Jawaharlal Nehru, “Tryst with Destiny” (1947), The Vintage Book of Indian Writing 1947-1997, ed. Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West (1997)
Bharati Mukherjee, “The Management of Grief”, The Middleman and Other Stories (1988)
Jhumpa Lahiri, “When Mr Pirzada Came To Dine”, The Interpreter of Maladies: Stories (1999)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading184:0084:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The course weekly lectures provide the contextual basis and the theoretical background for the students to learn about South Asian literature. The lectures will include an analysis of the texts on the syllabus. They will also examine events and political-social processes that have marked the recent history of the Indian subcontinent and which are represented in literature. The seminars are forums where the students discuss the primary texts, in relationship to topics raised in the lectures, while bringing in secondary reading that relates to the set texts. Students also meet in informal study groups, before the seminars, and collaboratively prepare a written handout to be presented by a spokesperson of the study group to the whole class.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A85One essay of 4000 words, due at the end of Semester 2.
Prof skill assessmnt2A15Participation and attendance to class will be assessed throughout the module.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MThis is a 2000-word formative essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This course covers a large number of literary texts, and engages with a number of theoretical and critical concepts. While providing a solid general framework through the lectures and seminar discussions, it also encourages students to forge their own connections between the texts. For this reason, it is felt that the best method of assessment in relation to the learning and skills outcomes is the submitted essay of 4000 words (worth 85% of the mark), since it will allow students the scope to develop an independently researched essay, incorporating both primary and secondary material. The 15% assessment based on class participation is also felt to be crucial for the learning outcomes, since it will help students learn how to prepare an oral presentation and how to engage in an academic debate around literature and literary scholarship in South Asia. It also intends to develop skills in collaborative teamwork and discussion.

Reading Lists