Courses » Postcolonial Literature

Postcolonial Literature

About the course

This course on Postcolonial literature will explore colonialism and anti-colonial resistance through the cultural legacies and literary imprints that they leave. It will also be an introduction to the specialised field of postcolonial studies which started emerging during the 1980s and ever since then has come to occupy a significant position within the various humanities departments across the world. It is hoped that this course will enable students to competently navigate the complex maze of theoretical terms and concepts that characterise postcolonial studies and savour the wonderful variety and richness of the literature that is today classified under the rubric of postcolonialism.

Intended Audience

PG/MA students of English Literature



Industries that will recognize this course

Universities and academic institutions teaching
courses on postcolonialism and South Asian studies

Course instructor

Dr. Sayan Chattopadhyay is an assistant professor of English literature at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Kanpur. He has a doctorate degree from the University of Cambridge. His primary areas of research include Postcolonial Studies and Indian English Writings, and his research articles have appeared in various scholarly journals including Journal of Postcolonial Writing (Routledge), Ariel: A Review of International English  (University of Calgary), The Journal of Commonwealth Literature (Sage) and Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism (Routledge).
Course Plan

Week 1:
1. Introduction: What is postcolonialism?
2. Commonwealth Literature  
3. Colonial Discourse Analysis: Michel Foucault 
4. Colonial Discourse Analysis: Edward Said  
5. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Week 2
1. Colonialism: The African Perspective
2. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (I)
3. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (II)
4. Decolonisation and the Discourse of Nationalism: The Context of India
5. Sonnets of Henry Derozio

Week 3
1. Raja Rao’s Kanthapura (I)
2. Raja Rao’s Kanthapura (II)
3. Critics of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and Frantz Fanon
4. Homi Bhabha and the concept of cultural hybridity
5. Caribbean Poetry: Derek Walcott

Week 4
1. Diasporic literature: Selections from Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies
2. Gayatri Spivak: Answering the question “Can the Subaltern Speak?”
3. Mahasweta Devi Pterodactyl I
4. Mahasweta Devi Pterodactyl II
5. Conclusion: Postcolonial Futures

More details about the course

Course duration : 4 weeks
Start date and end date of course: 23 January 2017-17 February 2017
Date of exam:  26 March, 2017
Time of exam: Shift 1: 9am-12noon; Shift 2: 2pm-5pm (Any one shift can be chosen to write the exam for a course)

Final List of exam cities will be available in exam registration form

Registration url - Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations. 

The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. 
More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published.


E-Certificate will be given to those who register and write the exam and score greater than or equal to 40% final score. 

Final score = 25% assignment score + 75% exam score
25% assignment score is calculated as 25% of average of scores of Best 3 out of 4 assignments

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup. It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Kanpur. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

References/ Bibliography
  • Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Massachusetts Review, Vol. 18, 1977.
  • Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. UK: Heinemann, 1958.
  • Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.
  • Boehmer, Elleke. Colonial and Postcolonial Literature: Migrant Metaphors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. UK: Blackwood's Magazine, 1899.
  • Derozio, Henry Louis Vivian. “The Harp of India.” In Songs of the Stormy Petrel: Complete Works of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. Ed. Abirlal Mukhopadhyay. Kolkata: Progressive Publisher, 2001. 
  • Derozio, Henry Louis Vivian. “To India - My Native Land.” In Songs of the Stormy Petrel: Complete Works of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. Ed. Abirlal Mukhopadhyay. Kolkata: Progressive Publisher, 2001. 
  • Devi, Mahasweta. “Pterodactyl.” In Imaginary Maps: Three Stories. Tr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. New York & London: Routledge, 1994.
  • Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 1963.
  • Foucault, Michel. “The Order of Discourse.” In Untying the Text: A Post-Structuralist Reader. Ed. Robert Young. Boston: Routledge & Keagan Paul Ltd., 1971. 
  • Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
  • Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London: Routledge, 1998.
  • Rao, Raja. Kanthapura. London: New Directions, 1938.
  • Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.
  • Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. "Can the Subaltern Speak?" In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.  
  • Tagore, Rabindranath. Nationalism. San Fransisco: The Book Club of California, 1917.
  • Walcott, Derek. “A Far Cry from Africa.” Collected Poems, 1948-1984. New York: Noonday Press, 1986. 
  • Walcott, Derek. “North and South.” Collected Poems, 1948-1984. New York: Noonday Press, 1986.