2009-10 AM Fictions of India: Colonial, Postcolonial, Contemporary

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  • Time: Tuesday 10-12

Course Description

Our seminar is organised around three novels in each of which the fate of a memorable young male protagonist is entangled with the political history of India. In reading Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the seminar provides the setting for an exemplary encounter with colonial, modernist and postmodernist fiction, as well as with the complex relationships that exist between historical backgrounds (colonialism, decolonisation, postcolonial politics) and literary discourse, not only in relation to topical and textual analysis, but also in relation to their cultural status and their conditions of production and circulation.

Students must purchase: Rudyard Kipling, Kim [1901], ed. Alan Sandison, Oxford: OUP (World’s Classics), 1987 [current reprint]. Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable [1935], London: Penguin [current reprint, preface by E. M. Forster] Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children [1981], London: Vintage, 2006.

[All texts may be had at a very competitive price at the CvO Bookshop] Further materials will be made available on the course’s wiki-website.

As an introduction to key concepts and major regions and historical perspectives in postcolonial studies, I recommend Tobias Döring, Postcolonial Literatures in English, Stuttgart: Klett, 2008.

Requirements: for 3 KP: regular attendance, an oral contribution in the form of a presentation and participation in an ‘expert group’ that will prepare a certain aspect of the seminar’s topic for the final discussion.

Requirements for 6 KP: as above, with a term paper of ca. 10 pp. based on the topic of the presentation (deadline Feb 29, 2010).


Introduction. Technicalities. Recalling “The White Man’s Burden”


Key terms in Postcolonial theory. [cf. also J. McLeod, Beginning Postcolonialism]


Recap of Narratology: Analysing colonial, modernist and postmodern / postcolonial fiction.


Rudyard Kipling, Kim (1900-1) – The structure of the plot: A colonial adventure story and its historical backgrounds. (Bose / Jalal 2004, chap. 10 and 11)


Kim: Representations of India and of Colonialism: National Characteristics and Cultural Identities in Kim


Kim: Hybridity and the Ideology of Kim: Kim’s identity, his relation to other characters and his quest.


Anand, Untouchable (1935): “A Day in the Life of Bakha the Sweeper”: the protagonist and the structure of the text.


Untouchable: Impersonal Narration and the Ideology of the Text: The Representation of India and of Bakha’s consciousness.


Untouchable and Kim: “Expert Perspectives” on the First Two Novels: Comparisons and Contrasts (Topics might include: ‘Boy heroes,’ India’, ‘Colonialism’, ‘caste system’, ‘religion’, ‘nation’, ‘power’, ‘humanity’ etc. )


Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1987): The Historical Background and the Structure of the Text.


Midnight’s Children. Narration: a Postmodern and Postcolonial Narrator-Protagonist.


Midnight’s Children: History and Identity, or: Politics and Hybritidy: Kim’s India, Bakha’s India, Saleem’s India.


Course Evaluation. – “Expert Perspectives” on the Three Novels: Comparisons and Contrasts


Feedback on Course Evaluation. – Final Discussion. Presentation and Student Discussion of Term Paper Projects

Expert Groups

The pages opening unde the following links are designed to enable more comparative perspectives on the three novels, on their specific textal qualities as well as on their major themes. There is no need to do any extra work, but please take the time to cut and paste the materials from your presentations and your summaries of discussion results under the headings under which they belong. (If you need formatting help, click on the "Help" button under "navigation", on the left of the screen.

In preparing for our final meeting, please look through the pages that interest you most, and make a note of at least one observation or insight that results from the comparative view of these themes and aspects.