Engl. 277b
Hall 112
Spring '00
TTh. 1-2:30


Postcolonial Women Writers: The South Asian Instance


This course will focus on writings by women from the South Asian sub-continent and its diaspora. Working from an expanded definition of writing as the attempt to draw new maps of reality, we will look at fiction, poetry, political manifestos, theoretical discussions, socio-historical accounts, and films by South Asian women. We will examine the ways these writings intervene in and energize postcolonial culture in South Asia and beyond by forging an aesthetic and political practice that involves a radical critique of gender arrangements. In particular, we will explore the ways writers use narrative traditions such as folklore, fable, memoir, and myth to give voice to their unique historical, cultural, and political perspectives. We will also trace the play of irony, parody, and mimicry as writers figure the ambivalence of their position as women, especially around issues of modernity, sexuality, religion, nation, and development.

Office Hours: In Hall 204, Wednesdays and Thursdays 3-4, and by appointment.

Course Requirements: 1 short paper (5 pages, double spaced), 1 research paper (10 pages, double spaced), mid-term and final exams, 1 entry (1-2 pages single spaced) to the "Contexts and Backgrounds" weblink, class participation. I will also give bonus points for contributions to the weblinks for the course webpage.

Required Texts:

Lalithambika Antherjanam, Cast me Out if You Will (Feminist Press)
Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day (Penguin)
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices (Anchor)
Kali For Women, Slate of Life (Feminist Press)
Kamala Markandaya, Nectar in a Sieve (NAL/Dutton)
Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine (Fawcett)
Suniti Namjoshi, Feminist Fables (Spinifex)
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (Harper)
Bapsi Sidhwa, Cracking India (Milkweed)
Suleri, Meatless Days (Chicago) addition to these texts, you will be assigned articles and chapters that have been placed on reserve at Magill library. These texts are indicated by (R) in your reading schedule. Given the size of the class, it is very likely that you will not be able to lay hands on this material when you need it. I therefore recommend strongly that you make personal copies early enough to avoid being unprepared for class.


Reading Schedule:


January 18: Introduction
January 20: Rokeya Hossain, "Sultana's Dream" and selections from The Secluded Ones. (R)
January 25: Lalithambika Antherjanam, Cast me Out if You Will pp. 3-130.
January 27: Jayawardena, selections from Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (R)
February 1: Antherjanam, 133-183.
February 3: Markandaya, Nectar in a Sieve
February 8: Markandaya, (Contd).
February 10: Markandaya, (Contd); Selections from We Will Smash This Prison! (R)
February 11: First Paper due
February 15: Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day
February 17: Desai, (Contd); Das, "An Introduction" (R)
February 22: Desai, (Contd); Kumar, selections from The History of Doing (R)
February 24: Bapsi Sidhwa, Cracking India
February 29: Sidhwa, (Contd).
March 2: Mid-Term exams
March 14: Sara Suleri, Meatless Days
March 16: Suleri (Contd).
March 21: Slate of Life, pp. 37-49, 67-86; Kumar, "From Chipko to Sati"
March 23: Slate of Life, pp. 26-36, 50-66, 87-124
March 28: Selections from In Their Own Voice (R); Devi, "Draupadi" (R)
March 30: Shiva, Selections from Ecofeminism (R);
April 4: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
April 6: Roy, (Contd)
April 7: Prospectus for Research Papers due
April 11: Suniti Namjoshi, Feminist Fables
April 13: Namjoshi (Contd);
April 18: Bharati Mukherjee, Jasmine
April 20: Mukherjee (Contd); Kamani, "Ciphers" and Chandra Mohanty, "Defining Genealogies" (R)
April 21: Research Papers due
April 25: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices
April 27: Divakaruni (Contd)

This page is maintained by Rajeswari Mohan. It was last updated on 1/17/00.