Adventure Literature

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSOL2EN3124

Semester and Year Offered: Semester III, Monsoon Semester 2021

Course Coordinator: Dr. Bhoomika Meiling

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

This course seeks to explore the nexus between colonial enterprise, rise of the middle class readership and the corresponding clamour for narratives about the ‘unknown’ and the ‘unheard of’. A trend that was set in 1719 with the publication of Robinson Crusoe, gave rise to newer expectations among readers tied down to their home turfs, from writings that showed them a slice of the exotic elsewhere which seemed real due to the sprinkling of factual and ‘scientific’ descriptions influenced by the new knowledge created in the Age of Reason. By the mid nineteenth century, most of the adventure narratives were exploring newer ways of touching increasingly fantastic territories with uncanny similarities to real life colonialist endeavours. In this context, the course will critically analyze adventure writings, chiefly of the nineteenth century, by focusing on novels beginning with Robinson Crusoe (1719) and meandering through some representative nineteenth century European and American adventure narratives.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Introduction: What is adventure? Can adventure be political? The entrepreneurial and colonial roots of adventure literature with a special focus on Island Narratives will be discussed thoroughly in this module.

Module 2: Early Adventure Writing: A brief survey of adventure writing in various European and Asian languages will be undertaken.

Module 3:Adventure Publication in the Age of Reason: The dynamics of the publication market of fiction and early novel will be explored in this module with a special focus on Robinson Crusoe.

Module 4: Island Narratives of Nineteenth Century: The evolution of the sub-genre in the nineteenth century will be discussed with a focus on North American and European adventure writing. The nexus between adventure writing and colonial enterprise will be discussed thoroughly.

Module 5: India as the Exotic Territory for Adventure: Taking the discussion on colonialism and adventure writing further, this module would involve an analysis of texts wherein India is treated as an exotic location for adventure narratives.

Assessment Details with weights: Mid-semester Examination 20%; End Semester Examination 30%; Class assignments: 10%; Presentations: 20%, Term Paper: 20%

Reading List:

  1. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
  2. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
  3. R.M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island
  4. R.L. Stevenson, Treasure Island
  5. Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island
  6. Alfred Assollant’s Once Upon A Time in India
  7. Apart from these a host of secondary readings will be used to link the different ideological pegs that hold the course together.

Secondary Reading List:

  • Anderson Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991.
  • ---. Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-colonial Imagination. London: Verso, 2005.
  • Carpenter, Kevin. Desert Isles and Pirate Islands: The Island Theme in Nineteenth- century English Juvenile Fiction, A Survey and Bibliography. Frankfort: Peter Lang, 1984.
  • Coetzee, J. M. Foe. New York: Viking, 1986.
  • Dautel, Katrin and Kathrin Schodel. Eds. Insularity: Representations and Constructions of Small Worlds. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2016.
  • Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983.
  • Land, Isaac. War Nationalism and The British Sailor. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • More, Thomas. Utopia (1551). Trans. Ralph Robinson. Ed. Edward Arber. London: A. Constable and Co., 1906.
  • Storment, Ryan Lee. Other Spaces, Other Voices:Heterotopic Spaces in Island Narratives. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008.
  • Weaver-Hightower, Rebecca. Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals and Fantasies of Conquest. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2007.
  • Wyss, Johann Davis. The Swiss Family Robinson. 1812. Web. 12 Feb. 2009 <>.