Universität Wien FIND
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130106 PS Sozialgeschichte der Lit. (PS): Postcolonial Con-Texts: Writing Back to the Canon (2017S)

Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung


Hinweis: Ihr Anmeldezeitpunkt innerhalb der Frist hat keine Auswirkungen auf die Platzvergabe (kein "first come, first served").


max. 30 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch


Termine (iCal) - nächster Termin ist mit N markiert

Dienstag 07.03. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 14.03. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 21.03. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 28.03. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 04.04. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Freitag 07.04. 12:30 - 14:00 Seminarraum 3 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 25.04. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 02.05. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 09.05. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 16.05. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 23.05. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 30.05. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 13.06. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 20.06. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Dienstag 27.06. 12:15 - 13:45 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

The re-reading and re-writing of the English “classic” texts in the 20th century became a way for the formerly colonized to resist or challenge a Eurocentric vision of the world that represented colonized peoples and cultures as marginal, inferior and dependent on the European cultures. This “writing back”, “counter-discourse” or “con-texts” contest the authority of the English canon as well as the whole discursive field within which these texts operated and continue to operate in the postcolonial world. It involves the abrogation of the imperial centre within the text and the active appropriation of the language and culture of that centre. Hence, dominated literatures are characterized by subversion, hybridity and syncreticity: the language and culture of the colonizer are appropriated and used against the colonizer as an instrument of subversion and resistance to assert the value of own culture and identity.
Over the last 30 years, the study of postcolonial rewritings of the English canon has attracted considerable attention. This course will focus on the most famous examples, attempting to survey some of the distinctive characteristics of such writing.

• identify, analyse and understand key philosophical, historical, social and aesthetic issues of postcolonial literature
• analyse key postcolonial works in terms of their social, historical, philosophical, and aesthetic significance
• apply close reading skills to a variety of literary texts
• reflect critically on the relations between primary texts and relevant secondary texts
• discriminate between ideas and justify personal positions
• produce well-structured, relevant arguments with an appropriate intellectual framework

Methods: lecture, discussion, oral presentation

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

Participation and homework (20%), oral presentation (20%), argumentative essay (60%), 3,500 words. Argumentative essay (3,500 words) can be submitted until September 15, 2017. Correction essay can be submitted on an on-going basis until January 30, 2018 (3 attempts at correction are possible). Topics for the essay will cover all texts discussed in the course and students will be free to choose their preferred topic.

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

1) Content (in particular the detection of the central points; clear formulation, structure and organization of the argument, supported with evidence from primary and secondary sources; the ability to read text closely and interpret both form and content; the ability to identify, analyse and understand the context and make connections; the ability to reflect critically on the relations between primary texts and relevant secondary texts, instead of just citing secondary texts as a source of authority and interpretation; correctness of methodology; originality; creativity; scope or relevance of the secondary literature used and their methodologically consistent incorporation): Here about 60% of the points will be awarded.

2) Format (esp. layout, formatting, and citation practice): Here about 20% of the points will be awarded.

3) Language (particularly scholarly terminology and correct use of technical terms; clear and understandable language; correct spelling, grammar, and sentence composition; care about style): Here about 20% of the points will be awarded.

In all three areas at least 50% of the points must be achieved in order to obtain credit. The mark breakdown is as follows:

Excellent (1) 90-100 %
Good (2) 80-89 %
Satisfactory enough (3) 65-79 %
Unsatisfactory (4) 50-64 %
Fail ( 5) 50 -0 %


1) How is Aimé Cesaire responding to Shakespeare and the entire Western discourse of Enlightenment in his play Une Tempete? What myth is Cesaire trying to debunk? Apply the critique of Enlightenment of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkeimer in Dialektik der Aufklarung (1947) to the representation of nature/culture in The Tempest and Une Tempete.

2) Compare the nature/civilization debate in Shakespeare, Defoe and Cesaire. What discourses are behind these representations? Trace the development of discourses on nature from Shakespeare (Renaissance and Romantic) through Defoe (Enlightenment) and to Cesaire (postcolonialism).

4) How is Chinua Achebe writing back to European colonial of representations of Africans, particularly those found in Conrad? Analyze various aspects of Things Fall Apart in which Achebe is asserting the value of Igbo culture and responding to the Euro-centric images of Africans. Do you agree with Achebe that Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a racist work?

5) How is colonialism both present and absent in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? How does this destroy the novel’s aspiration to freedom for the main protagonist?

6) How is the woman’s condition in British Victorian society represented in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre through various Others? The main Other is of course Bertha, but there are also Oriental women, slaves, and other women in Rochester’s life.

7) How is Jean Rhys responding to the image of Bertha in Jane Eyre (1847) in her novel Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) from a postcolonial perspective? Focus on the themes of madness, disability, death, and split identity from a postcolonial perspective (rather than a psychoanalytical perspective). How does race, gender, class and money intersect in the colonial environment? How do racism and sexism work through each other, preventing Rochester from understanding Antoinette?

8) Analyze Wide Sargasso Sea as a modernist text and explain the political meaning of modernist style in this novel that rewrites the realist novel Jane Eyre. Discuss modernist elements, such as highly subjective narrative voices, polyphony of narrative voices, free indirect discourse, flashbacks, split identity (e.g., consider the function of mirrors in the story), the subconscious, alternative states of consciousness (madness, dreams, day-dreams), the role of the imagination in the construction of identity, and others. How do all these create a tangled, unstable story with many mysteries unsolved? What is the meaning of the parallel interpretation of events? How is Antoinette a more real woman than women in Jane Eyre?

9) Analyze Robinson Crusoe (1719) as a myth of Enlightenment that expresses the ideologies of the time such as: scientific thinking (empiricism), rationalism, materialism, utilitarianism, individualism, capitalism, imperialism, nationalism and racism. Ideologies are sets of ideas that serve certain needs – for example, to conceal inequalities and exploitation based on class, race and gender, and in this way to maintain power. Analyze contradictions or silences in the text that subvert the ideas of Enlightenment (that progress and freedom is achieved through rational economic activity).

10) How is J. M. Coetzee responding to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) in his novel Foe (1986)? Analyze how Coetzee is responding to several discourses at the same time: colonial, Enlightenment, Eurocentric and patriarchal, writing a novel that is at once postcolonial, post-Enlightenment, post-Marxist, postmodern and feminist. In addition, Coetzee is concerned with the idea of authorship, the author as someone who has authority to tell the story. Why is this so important in relation to colonialism, patriarchy and slavery? Why is the story narrated by Susan, rather than Friday?


Primary literature:
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (1958)
Charlotte Brönte, Jane Eyre (1847)
Aimé Césaire, Une Tempête (1968)
J. M. Coetzee, Foe (1986)
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
William Shakespeare, The Tempest (1610-1611)
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Secondary literature:
Ashcroft, Bill et. al., The Empire Writes Back. Routledge, 1989, 2002.
McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester University Press, 2000.
Tiffin, Helen. “Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse.” Kunapipi 9(3), 1987)
Said, Edward. Orientalism. London: Keegan & Paul, 1978.

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis


Letzte Änderung: Mo 07.09.2020 15:34