Courses » Postcolonial Literature

Postcolonial Literature


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




INDUSTRY SUPPORT: Universities and academic institutions teaching courses on postcolonialism and South Asian studies.

1050 students have enrolled already!!


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).


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

  • 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.
  • The exam is optional for a fee.
  • Date and Time of Exams: March 31st (Sunday)
  • Time of Exams: Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon session: 2pm to 5pm
  • 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.


  • Final score will be calculated as : 25% assignment score + 75% final exam score
  • 25% assignment score is calculated as 25% of average of  Best 3 out of 4 assignments
  • E-Certificate will be given to those who register and write the exam and score greater than or equal to 40% final score. Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IITKanpur.It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.