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EN2C4/EN3C4 New Literatures in English

 Partition 1947African Literature

Lecture Thursday 12:00 - 1:00 - MS.05
Seminar Thurs 2:00 - 3:00 (S0.17)
Seminar Thurs 3:00 - 4:00 (S0.17)



Rashmi Varma (


Mondays, 12-1; Thursdays, 4-5 and by appointment


Through the medium of English, writers from Africa and Asia today confront a (prospectively) global audience. This module aims to introduce students to the emergent body of literature being produced by writers (and film-makers) from South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa generally, and South Asia, and to situate it in terms of the historical circumstances that have engendered it and to which it constitutes a response. The module will examine the various ways in which different writers negotiate and represent social conditions -- local and global -- in their work, and the ways in which they incorporate and work with domestic and foreign literary forms and conventions. The works will be read comparatively, in relation to one another, and as contributions to particular literary and cultural traditions. Social issues under review will range very widely: for example, race, violence, religion and communalism, land, ‘development’ and the environment, sex and gendered identity, nation and state, memory, trauma and prolepsis, English as a world language and English as a language of cultural imperialism.

Method of Assessment

Intermediate Years:
2 x 2500-word essays (40% each)
Creative/Critical Project (20%)

Final Years:
2 x 3000-word essays on topics generated by the student (40% each)
Creative/Critical Project (20%)

Essays will be due Term 2, Week 1; Term 3, Week 1. The Creative/Critical Project will be due Term 3, Week 3.

Attendance: Attendance at each seminar is mandatory. If for some reason you need to miss a seminar, please do email your seminar tutor to let them know your reason before the seminar.

Seminar Participation: Seminars generally succeed or fail because of the quality of group participation. This means that you must keep on top of the required readings—reading thoroughly, carefully and in a timely manner. In order to prepare for the seminar, you should a) attend the lecture to formulate a question or response to any aspect of it; b) formulate a question and a point for discussion for each reading. One useful way to do this is to focus on a specific part of the lecture or a reading.

TERM ONE: South Asia

Required texts:

Salman Rushdie, Shame (1983)

Mirza Waheed, The Collaborator (2011)

Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997)

Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2004)

Amruta Patil, Kari (2008)

Arvind Adiga, The White Tiger (2008)

Weekly Schedule

Week One: Introductory Seminars

Week Three: Partition Narratives

Urvashi Butalia, excerpt from The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India (2000) Butalia, The Other Side of SilenceLink opens in a new window

Saadat Hasan Manto, 'Toba Tek Singh' (1955). Kingdom's End and Other Stories (1987) manto_toba_tek_singh.pdf

Manto, 'Khol Do' (1950). The Annual of Urdu Studies 27 (2012) Manto, Khol Do

Kamleshwar, 'Kitne Pakistan' (1966-7). Tarun K. Saint, ed. Translating Partition: Essays, Stories, Criticism (2001) Kamleshwar, Kitne Pakistan

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 'The Dawn of Freedom' (1947). Tr. Agha Shahid Ali. The Annual of Urdu Studies 11 (1996) Faiz, The Dawn of Freedom

TO WATCH: Film: Garm Hawa (1974) (dir., M.S. Sathyu, Urdu, with English subtitles, film)

Week Three: Salman Rushdie, Shame (1983)

Week Four: Mirza Waheed, The Collaborator (2011) 

Week Five: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997) 

Week Seven: Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2004)

Week Eight: Amruta Patil, Kari (2008)

Week Nine: Arvind Adiga, The White Tiger (2008)

Week Ten: Mahasweta Devi, ‘Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay, and Pirtha’. Imaginary Maps (1995) Pterodactyl

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, ‘November is the Month of Migrations’, ‘Baso-jhi’ and 'The Adivasi Will Not Dance' from The Adivasi Will Not Dance: Stories (2015)

Film: Satyajit Ray, dir. Days and Nights in the Forest (available on YouTube)

TERM TWO: Sub-Saharan Africa

Required Texts:

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions

Nadine Gordimer, The House Gun

Chimamanda Negozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

Mia Couto, Confession of the Lioness

No Violet Bulawayo, We Need New Names

Zoe Wicomb, Playing in the Light

Weekly Schedule:

Week One: Introduction to the Term (RV)

Week Two: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (1988) (RV)

Week Three: Nadine Gordimer, The House Gun (1998) (PM)

Week Four: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) (PM)

Week Five: Tsotsi (dir. Gavin Hood, 2005) (PM) Available for streaming on Talis AspireTsotsi film

Week Six: No class. Reading Week

Week Seven: Mia Couto, Confession of the Lioness (2012) (RV)

Week Eight: District 9 (film) (PM) Available for Streaming on TalisAspire and BOB District 9

Week Nine: NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (2013) (RV)

Week Ten: Zoë Wicomb, Playing in the Light (2006) (RV)