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Fall 2013 Course Descriptions

English 4850  Third World Literature: Gender & Geography

Section 001       CRN 90839
Third World Literature: Gender & Geography    1630-1745 MW

In this class we consider many issues that pertain to the term “Third World Literature.” We do this by way of a focused investigation of South African narratives. Most of what we will read has been produced since 1994, that is, after the overthrow of a system of legislated racism known as “apartheid.” In narratives written during the colonial era and under the apartheid regime, human bodies serve as allegories for the land itself and for national identities. For example, as we will see, European colonizers imagined Africa as a “dark continent” in their colonial adventures; in this imagined landscape, Africa waited unknown and un-named for the white male explorer(s) to give meaning and purpose to its presumably blank spaces. The colonial imagination also tended to see the vast land-mass as feminine; representations of woman—as mother, virgin and/or victim—come to stand in for Africa. But there are other texts that resist these often violent representational practices. In addition to female bodies, male bodies (straight and gay), transgendered bodies, black or white bodies, also can serve as vehicles for understanding the pressures on an emerging nation, especially when it comes to contests over and distribution of land. And we will look at the ways different kinds of narratives—fiction, auto/biography, poetry and history—contribute to this process of nation-building. Assignments will include two essays, a mid-term and a final examination as well as several presentations. (Group 2)