Course description and goals:

this course in an attempt to put into conversation postcolonial studies and indigenous theories. Students will be mostly taken into close reading of literary texts, ethnographic and archival texts by responding through critical academic writing.

This course explores how modern traditions have travestied other modes of experience. It is an attempt to identify native ways of life and how they have been subject to certain forms of animalization. A recurring trait in this course will be the native’s contact with the whites and how modern discourses have turned humans (mainly through race, regions and gender) into non-humans. This analysis of modern discourses somehow deconstruct the modern and the premodern on which neocolonial modes of domination rely. In Barbed wire, Razac emphasizes the metastatic aspect of the “west[that] was more a form of society than a geographical territory. The term is applied to a region where the concept of free land changed ancient ways of life and ideas”. Who is human and who is not human and how do we navigate in-between is the question in this course.


J.M. Coetzee, The Life and Times of Michael K.

Zakes Mda, Heart of Redness.

Bruno Latour, We Have never been modern.

Edouard Glissant, Collected Poems.

Marcel Mauss, The Gift

Elizabeth Povenelli, The Governance of the Prior

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall apart

Sol Plaatje, Mhudi

Week 1: Fragmentation and Endurance: Colonialism and Indigenous Belief

  • Bruno Latour, We Have never been modern
  • Blood Narrative/ kiowa Narrative
  • Chinua, Achebe. “Things fall apart.” (1958).
  • Trigger, D.& Asche, W. (2010) “Christianity, cultural change and the negotiation of rights in land and sea”, The Australian Journal of Anthropology 21,1.

Week 2: Magic, Mimesis, and “Archaic Society.”

  • Plaatje, Sol T. Mhudi. Waveland Press, 2013.
  • Povinelli, Elizabeth A. “The governance of the prior.” interventions1 (2011): 13-30.
  • Mauss, Marcel, and Ian George CUNNISON. Essai Sur Le Don. The Gift. Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies… Translated by Ian Cunnison. With an Introduction by EE Evans-Pritchard. London, 1954.

Week 3: After colonial trauma.

  • M. Coetzee, The Life and Times of Michael K.
  • Razac, Olivier. Barbed Wire: A Political History. New Press, 2002.
  • Essays by Diamond and cavell from Wolfe(Ed). Philosophy and Animal life

Week 4: The postcolonial, Ecocriticism, and Errantry (Errance).


  • Mda, Zakes. The Heart of Redness: A Novel. Macmillan, 2007.
  • Glissant, selections from The Poetics of Relation (Poetique de la Relation) and poetic Intention (L’intention poetique)
  • B. Peires, from The Dead Will Arise: Nonqawuse and the Great Xhosa Cattle-Killing Movement of 1856-7

About sdiouf

Ph.D student in Comparative Literature.
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One Response to syllabus.

  1. Anne Gulick says:

    Ahhhh, Michael K and Mhudi! So great! The combination of primary texts and critical interlocutors looks fascinating to me. I wonder whether perhaps you could ditch Things Fall Apart and really just focus on South African literature – some Nadine Gordimer might be great.


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