Modern British Novel and the British Empire

Course title: Modern British Novel and the British Empire
Instructor: Prof. Borislav Knežević
ECTS credits:

Status: elective
Semester: 1st and 3rd
Enrollment requirements:
Enrollment in the graduate programme
Course description: In this course we will read a selection of novels by British authors (Kipling, Conrad, Woolf) and one novel (by Tagore) written in India under British rule; our thematic focus will be on the literary uses of the British Empire, imperialism and colonialism in those novels. We will deal with characteristics of modernism as a period in literary history, and the ways in which the selected novels exemplify such characteristics. Much of our discussions will center on themes articulated by postcolonial criticism (the relationship between the metropole and the colony; going native; writing about imperial others; writing as an imperial other, construction of gender in colonial societies and discourses, etc.). Kipling’s novel Kim, which does not belong to literary modernism, will be used to provide an introduction both to the discussion of literary-historical periodization and the discussion of postcolonial criticism. The students are expected to take part in course discussions and to examine closely the formal and historical characteristics of the literary texts. The students are also expected to further develop skills of researching and working with secondary sources. By participating in class discussions and their individual research work the students should develop the ability of familiarizing themselves with the structure of the literary-critical debate about the topics of this course.

Objectives: The course offers an introduction to some of the key texts of British modern novel, and to postcolonial criticism as an important type of contemporary literary study. Like other graduate level English literature courses, this course also focuses on improving the skills of analyzing literary texts.

Course requirements: The grade is based on a written essay at the end of term (5-6) pages, a mid-term quiz and a quiz at the end of term.

Week by week schedule:
1. week: Introduction to modernism. Periodization, status of the novel as a genre, the historical context of imperialism. Said’s concept of orientalism. McClintock and the question of postcolonial theory.

2. week: Kipling.
3. week: Kipling Cohn: representations of colonial authority. Conrad, and European imperialism in Africa.
4. week: Conrad. Achebe, and the issue of racism in literature.
5. week: Brantlinger, and the relationship between modernism and imperialism.
6. week: Tagore.
7. week: Mid-term quiz.
8. week: Tagore.
9. week: Renan, and defining the nation.
10. week: Nehru, and the question of development.
11 week: Woolf. The essay is due.
12 week: Woolf.
13 week: Cannadine, Ornamentalism .
14 week. Second quiz.
15 week: Course summary.

A. Required reading:

Rudyard Kipling, Kim
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World
Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts

Chinua Achebe, “An Image of Africa.” Massachussets Review 18, 1997.
Patrick Brantlinger, The Rule of Darkness (excerpts). Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990.
Frantz Fanon, “The Wretched of the Earth” in Omar Dahbour, The Nationalism Reader. Humanity Books, 1995.
Anne McClintock, “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ‘Post-colonialism’”.  Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory. A Reader (ed. Patrick Williams, Laura Chrisman).  New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
Edward Said, “Introduction” to Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books, 1979.
Bernard S. Cohn, “Representing Authority in Colonial India”, in Eric Hobsbawm, The Invention of Tradition.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Ernest Renan, “What is a Nation?”, The Nationalism Reader.
Jawaharlal Nehru, “The Discovery of India”, The Nationalism Reader.

David Cannadine, Ornamentalism. How the British saw Their Empire (excerpts). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

B. Optional reading:
Anthony Apiah, “Topologies of Nativism” Julie Rivkin, Michael Ryan, Literary Theory: An Anthology. London: Blackwell, 1998.
Carole Boyce Davies, “Migratory Subjectivities”. Literary Theory: An Anthology.
Fredric Jameson, “Modernism and Imperialism”, from Nationalism, Colonialism and Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.