Spring, 2000, Pin-chia Feng & Kate Liu

students: Chiao-Tung, Fu Jen
Final; Course Evaluation

Cultures and Map

picture adapted from Post_Imperial Web

India & Pakistan
The Caribbean Area
  --National Identity 
   & Race Relations,

  --Chinese Immigrants
    (1), (2)

Glossary of Terms

  Course Description
As English majors, we need to know that "English" is not always British, and "American"--not necessarily the U.S.  How about English Literature?  British and U.S. literature?  In the past, maybe, but now in the age of postcolonialism -- definitely no.

     English literatures are all the literatures written in English in 1.) the U.S. and U.K., and in 2.) the English-speaking countries in areas ranging from Africa,  South Asia, South-East Asia, East Asia (e.g. Hong Kong), South Pacific area (e.g. Australia & New Zealand), the Caribbean area, to North America (e.g. Canada).   (See Map.)  To distinguish the latters from the formers, we call the latters -- world literatures written in English, or postcolonial (Third World) literature in English, or New English literatures. 

      Since world literatures written in English cover so many nations with their distinct national/racial cultures, it is hardly possible to generalize about them, not to mention teaching them all in one course.  These literatures, however,  do have common concerns, their nations having all experienced imperialism and colonization, and their peoples, immigration and frequently more than once.   Among the common cercerns there are: influences of colonization, possibilities of decolonization and defining national identity, power relations (between the colonizer and the colonized, dominant group and minorities).   These national literatures,  moreover, are linked to each other by the large flows of immigrants of Chinese, African and/or Indian descent--what is called Chinese, African and Indian diasporas (離散族群). 

      To do a focused survey of world literatures in English, this course chooses literatures (short stories, novel excerpts and poems)  in the Indian subcontinent (including Pakistan and India), the Caribbean area (including Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica), and Canada, as well as those by diasporic/immigrant writers from these areas such as Salman Rushdie, Jean Rhys, Michael Ondaatje, V.S. Naipaul., etc.  (See the black areas on  Map.)   Our central questions are: 

  •   What is colonization?  Is de-colonization possible? 

  •   How is national identity defined after the end of official colonization?  Can traditional culture not be contaminated by colonial culture?
      What gets involved in immigration?  Identity crisis or cultural exchange/transformation, social mobility/climbing or different forms of racism?
       Heavy reading (each week about 50 pages' prose writing or fewer for poems) will be required to avoid the superficial understanding of these literatures.  On the other hand, history, films (e.g. Salaam Bombay, Wide Sargarso Sea, Exotica ), and popular songs (e.g. Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen) will be used to help us visualize, enter and understand the national cultures.  You are also encouraged to bring in other relevant texts from popular culture of these areas. 

      As we move from Indian subcontinent to the Caribbean, and then to Canada, the diasporic writers (e.g. Indian-Caribbean, African-Caribbean, Indian-Caribbean-Canadian) will help connect the different regions.  At the end, with discussion of Chinese-Canadian texts, we hope to come back to Taiwan and discuss local engagement in the issues we focus on in class; that is, (de-)colonization, national identity and migration. 

Textbook:A Reader, Films and Documentaries (Used in Class)

  Requirements and Grading Policy:
    Reading before class and active participation in class is essential.  Any late or absence will affect your final grade.   Three absences constitute reason for failing the course.  If you have to be absent, please let the teachers know beforehand. No plagiarism!

Active participation and designated response in class -- 10%
Bi-weekly online journals -- 30%
One group report on a topic of your own choice -- 20 %
A take-home exame -- 40%

  A note on the pedagogy
Q:Is it possible to teach World Literature in English?
A: No, unless there is a focus in theme.  No because World Literature in English includes so many regions and nations and culture, and the Yes is given under the condition that a proper theme is chosen to allow the teacher to set up a manageable context.

Q: Why are you teaching "Indian Literature" when you are not an Indian, nor have you been to India or know any Indian languages?
A: No, I am not teaching Indian, nor Pakistani, literature, and definitely not in the way an Indian academic would teach it.  I am focusing on the literature written by Indian diaspora (see definition of Diaspora). 

Q: But are you sure your interpretation of their culture (Indian, or Indian diasporic) is correct? 
A: No, I cannot be 100% sure, and that is why I need to be careful in learning and researching about their culture. 
On the other hand, what is proper or correct interpretation but interpretation given and accepted in a given historical/social context?  At the same time I try to understand the other cultures, I retain the right to interpret the texts and culture from a Taiwanese perspective. To borrow Hans-Georg Gadamer's terms, my interpretation is inevitably and actively a fusion of horizons. . 


  for Discussion & Group Report  and possible texts to choose:

(to be updated as the class develops)

Group Report I: Cultural Identity & Representation of India or Indian/Pakistani Women
Feature Films: In Custody, Masala, Mississippe Masala, My Beautiful Laundrette, Fire
Documentaries:  (more. . .)
Literature: Passage to India, Passage to Lahore, other chapters from Meatless Days, short stories by Rushdie & Narayan. 

Group Report II: Caribbean Disapora and Survival
Feature Films: Rude, Soul Survivor, My Mother's Place
Literature: A lot!  Please see us. 

Group Report III: Issues related to Immigrants' (of Chinese Descent or Immigrants to Canada) Cultural Identity
Feature Films: Canadian films on immigrants: A lot,  e.g. The Adjuster, Exotica, Lulu
Documentaries (more. . .)
Chinese diaspora: Double Happiness, Mom, Mona and Me, 《浮生》 Floating Life , 《愛在他鄉的季節》, 《三個女人的故事》, etc. 
Literature: A lot!  Please see us. 

*  Want to see the final exam questions of the course, '98?  Go ahead!

Please feel free to write to us, call us
or make an appointment with us!

Kate Chiwen Liu 劉紀雯

Office: SF 124

Office Hours: 
Tues. 1:00 - 3:00, 
Fri. 10:00 - 12:00 or by

TEL:  (O)  02-2903-1111, ext. 3676 (H) 2528-2570; fax: 2528-4163 

E-Mail: engl1009@fujens.fju.edu.tw

  Pin-chia Feng 馮品佳

Office:  F 315

Office Hours: Thurs. 10:00-12:00 or by appointment

TEL:  (O)  03-5731660 or 5712121-58102; fax:  03-5726037