Graduate Courses, Summer 2008

Times and locations of class meetings are subject to change. Consult the UF Schedule of Courses for an explanation of the class period abbreviations.

Summer Session B

Course no. Time(s) Room Course title Instructor
downLIT 6856 TR 2-3 TUR 2353 Postcoloniality, Globalization & English Literature Amoko

LIT 6856

Postcoloniality, Globalization & English Literature

Apollo Amoko

At any point in his student career [the typical university student of literature], his English literature will be patchy and partial, but properly guided, he will in acquiring his selected areas and themes be forming a sense of the whole to which they belong and which they implicitly postulate. And […] he will at the same time be developing a sense of “belonging” as he reads and thinks and works at organizing his knowledge and thought; and this sense – one of belonging to a collaborative community, the essential nucleus of which is the permanent English school – will play a very important part in the force and effectiveness with which he realizes the fact and nature of the existence of English literature.

F. R. Leavis, English Literature in our Time and the University.

There is no question of producing a national culture by means of a university curriculum. Or conversely, of producing a national multiculturalist ethos by the same means. The question is rather what social effects are produced by the knowledges disseminated in the university, and by the manner of their dissemination […School Culture] does not unify the nation culturally so much as it projects out of a curriculum of artifact-based knowledge an imaginary cultural unity never actually coincident with the culture of the nation-state.

John Guillory, Cultural Capital.

The very concepts of homogenous national cultures, the consensual or contiguous transmission of historical traditions, or ‘organic’ ethnic communities – as the grounds of cultural comparativism – are in the process of profound redefinition. There is overwhelming evidence of a more transnational and translational sense of the hybridity of imagined communities.

Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture.

One of the great ironies of the discourse of globalization is that although English literature has become the most obvious sign of transnationalism, it is continuously haunted by its historical – and disciplinary – location in a particular ethnos. What are we going to do with these older categories – nation, culture, and English – which function as the absent structure that shapes and yet haunts global culture and the idea of literature itself.

Simon Gikandi, “Globalization and the Claims of Postcolonial Theory”

This course will turn on a critical examination of the condition of literary studies. Over the last two decades, departments of English literature in the so-called Anglo-American academy have become the locus of some of the most ostensibly trans/postnational cultural discourses, most notably postcolonialism and globalism. At the same time, however, these departments have remained profoundly ethnocentric institutions so much that, as Simon Gikandi has recently argued, the common periodization of English Literature in epochs such as Medieval, Renaissance, Augustan, Victorian and so on makes sense only if the organization of the discipline is pegged to a certain nationalist history of England onto which is uncritically appended a nationalist history of the United States of America. As well, the literatures of Africa and the Caribbean continue to inhabit the conceptual and/or actual margins of the discipline. In short, English literature is at once nationalist and global. How might we account for this paradox? How did a relatively small number of high canonical fictional texts – and the metropolitan institutions of culture that study them – come to occupy center stage in theorizing the global moment? Why did English prove so hospitable a home for discourses of postcolonialism and globalism even as it seemed institutionally to disregard the radical implications of these theories? How is it that the global or postcolonial age came to be theorized in primarily, if not exclusively, cultural terms so much that, as Arjun Appadurai has memorably opined, “Social scientists look on with bewilderment as their colleagues in English and comparative literature talk (and fight) about matters that, until recently as fifteen years ago, would have seemed about as relevant to English departments as, say, quantum mechanics”?

Course Requirements:

There is no research paper for this class. Instead, we will focus on readings and discussions. Needless to say, attendance is mandatory for this class. In addition to completing readings in a comprehensive and timely fashion and participating actively in class discussions, you will write two-page responses to each week’s reading. These response papers will be due at no later than 4pm each Thursday.