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CHID 250 C: Special Topics: Introduction To The History Of Ideas

Postcolonial Literature and Culture; Focus on Pakistan and South Asia

Meeting Time: 
TTh 8:30am - 10:20am
SMI 407
Anu Taranath

Syllabus Description:

CHID 480C/ English 316

Postcolonial Literatures: Focus on Pakistan

instructor: dr. a. taranath   —

class times tues & thurs 8:30-10:30am

office hours: fridays 9:30-10:30am, & by appt. (padelford hall, A506)


Once part of the global British Empire and now officially independent, countries like Kenya, India, Pakistan, Jamaica, Barbados, and Zimbabwe have performed and negotiated their break from colonialism in sometimes different, sometimes similar ways. Our investigation of postcolonial Pakistani literatures and social theory will help us better understand:

--historical colonial power and anticolonial conflict

--present day cultural legacies of imperialism in the recently independent postcolony

--who has power and privilege over others and why

--the region of South Asia

--the role of travel, diaspora and globalization.


We will read literature from Pakistan to glean insight on the South Asian region’s cultural and literary scene, and to discuss how emblematic Pakistani literature might be to larger postcolonial concerns. Additionally, we will screen films, dabble in theory, and try to piece together how our world works now and how that came to be. This class will engage with issues of gender, sexuality, race, feminism, patriarchy, globalization, culture, westernization, class, privilege, power and representation.

This is an introductory class, with no prerequisites or expectations of prior familiarity with postcolonialism, Pakistan or South Asian issues. Our one requirement: an openness and willingness to engage in productive and collegial conversations.

Learning Goals:

--increased familiarity with theories of identity and social difference

--familiarity with theories and issues of culture, globalization and postcolonialism

--increased familiarity and comfort discussing issues of difference


Required texts

Cracking India—Bapsi Sidhwa

Burnt Shadows—Kamila Shamsie

Do Muslim Women Need Saving?-- Lila Abu-Lughod

The Other Side of Silence--Urvashi Butalia Articles & Essays on Canvas


Course expectations: all readings & assignments completed on assigned days; course work to be turned in on time; attendance in class, engagement and respectfulness toward colleagues and course ideas. Late papers not accepted unless something quite dramatic occurs. If you are absent from class, please first check with two of your classmates to find out what you have missed and exchange notes. Once you do this you are welcome to contact me for additional information. Please note: if you do not attend class you will not do well in the course. All assignments due at the beginning of class. I will be posting reading prompts and questions via class announcements, so please configure your Canvas appropriately.


Grade Distribution:

--Class Citizenship: 15%

--Quartets: 15%

--First Assignment: 10%

--Second Assignment: 20%

--Third Assignment: 40%


Class Citizenship:

Includes all assigned readings by the assigned dates

active participation in class, active listening in class, and attendance

collaborative engagement with our class colleagues

timely submission of written work

completion of in-class writing prompts

completion of short homeworks

student generated reading & discussion prompts

overall “how you are engaging”

Class Citizenship will be worth 15% of your final grade.


All class participants will be organized into groups of four (or a group of three depending on our numbers). These ‘quartets’ will meet during classtime throughout the term to unpack readings, exchange classmate feedback, and make links between the reading themes and the various worlds outside academia. Additionally, quartets will be working on the final portfolio project together. This is a quarter-long relationship, with actual grades riding on the shared hard work, good communication, and collegiality of its participants.

Quartet grade: 15%


Assignment One: The Beginnings

This assignment is comprised of a one-page single-spaced paper. It serves as a way to situate and contextualize yourself in relation to the material & ideas we’ll be engaging with this term.

Path 1: Let’s say you know very little about Pakistan, South Asia, postcolonialism and Global South literature. Reflect on how and why these topics relate to you as a scholar, student, and person in the world. Why is it so right, so timely and almost serendipitous that you are in this course right now, at this stage in your education and learning?

Path 2: Let’s say you know quite a lot about Pakistan, South Asia, postcolonialism and Global South literature. Reflect on how and why you came to know what you know. How might a course like this strengthen what you already know with the intellectual equivalent of a good-quality cement? Or might this course act like an earthquake tremor, causing what you know to come tumbling down?

This assignment will be evaluated on its thoughtfulness, willingness to probe, and self-investigation. Bring a paper copy of your assignment to the beginning of class, tuesday october 6th.

            Assignment One grade: 10%


Assignment Two, Midterm Paper

Toward the middle of the quarter, we will collectively generate a list of prompts and themes that have threaded our class work and readings. From this list we will select 4 prompts. Each prompt will require one single-spaced page of analysis, exposition, and engagement. Class participants will work in quartets, and decide for themselves how to configure the work amongst group members. We will devote some class time to work on this assignment. Each and every member of the group quartet will receive the same final grade based on their collective submission. Bring a paper copy of your assignment to the beginning of class, thursday november 5th.

Assignment Two grade: 20%


Assignment Three, Final Paper

From our collectively generated list of prompts, this final assignment will showcase eight single-spaced pages of analysis, exposition and engagement. Each quartet will decide for themselves how to configure the work amongst quartet members, and will work together to answer the 8 prompts as a team. We will devote some class time to work on these finals. Each and every member of the quartet will receive the same final grade based on their collective portfolio submission. Bring a paper copy of your assignment to the beginning of class, thursday december 10th.

Assignment Three grade: 40%


tentative schedule of readings—subject to revision

week 0—thurs oct 1: introduction to course themes, philosophies, pedagogies.


week 1- tues oct 6: Assignment One due; Cracking India parts I and II

            thurs oct 8: Cracking India; film screening


week 2—tues oct 13: Cracking India parts III and I

thurs oct 15: excerpts from The Post Colonial State & Social Transformation in India and Pakistan: Intro & Chp 12-- PostCol State & Social Transformation


week 3—tues oct 20: The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India

            thurs oct 22: The Other Side of Silence


week 4-   tues oct 27: The Other Side of Silence

            thurs oct 29: The Other Side of Silence


week 5—tues nov 3: Assignment Two in-class work

            thurs nov 5: Assignment Two due; film screening


week 6—tues nov 10: Burnt Shadows

thurs nov 12: Burnt Shadows


week 7- tues nov 17: Burnt Shadows

thurs nov 19: short stories; film screening


week 8- tues nov 24: short stories; film screening

            thurs nov 26: holiday


week 9— tues dec 1: Do Muslim Women Need Saving?

            thurs dec 3: Do Muslim Women Need Saving?


week 10—tues dec 8: Do Muslim Women Need Saving?

               thurs dec 10: Assignment Three due; film screening

Additional Details:

Introduction to literatures from the formerly colonized worlds of Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean

Catalog Description: 
Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:11am