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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2008

E 324 • Literature of the South Asian Diaspora

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35245 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
PAR 105

Course Description

May not be counted toward a major in English.

This course will examine works written in English by authors who can trace their descent to the countries located in South Asia. The "South Asian Diaspora" encompasses a vast amount of territory as well as a huge variety of nations, ethnic groups, languages, and histories; some of the authors represent specific historical events that happened in South Asian nations (the Civil War in Sri Lanka, the Indian struggle for independence, the partitions of Pakistan and Bangladesh) and others write about people and places that are outside of South Asia proper. Our purpose will be to consider the issues that seem to preoccupy all of these authors to varying extents. What is the difference between a nation and a diaspora and why is that important to authors from this region? How do these works represent the effect that colonialism has had on the region and its inhabitants? How do they represent the movements of people that colonialism and nationalism often produce? What part, if any, can literature play in decolonizing efforts? As much as possible, we will pay attention to the specific histories of nationalism, migration, and colonization that each film, short story, or novel invoke. To that end, we will read a selection of historical and critical essays that will help us contextualize the literature and ground our discussions. We will also examine how these works have been influenced by the forms and aesthetics of a Western European canon, and how they, in turn, might be transforming those conventions.

Grading Policy

Participation 10%
Reading quizzes and passage explications 20%
Essay #1 20%
Essay #2 20%
Essay #3 20%
Paper comments 10%


Gurinder Chadha (dir), Bend It Like Beckham; Stephen Frears (dir), My Beautiful Laundrette; Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines; Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia; Jhumpa Lahiri, The Interpreter of Maladies; Sunaina Maira, Desis in the House; Deepa Mehta (dir), Water; Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night; Bharati Mukherjee, The Middleman and Other Stories; Mira Nair (dir), The Namesake; Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost; Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy; Bapsi Sidwa, Cracking India; Sara Suleri, Meatless Days


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