Postcolonial Theory and Practice

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3114

Semester and Year Offered:

Course Coordinator and Team: Vikram Singh Thakur

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: The course aims to introduce students to some of the major issues and themes of postcolonial theory. The course may revolve around the following themes: empire, language, hybridity and mimicry, cultural identity and diaspora, representation and resistance. As the title of the course suggests, the course aims not only to introduce students to these theoretical concepts but also make them examine various literary and cultural texts using these critical concepts. A range of literary, cultural and theoretical texts from India, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America may be included. In addition to the texts from various postcolonial societies, the course may also include more canonical English texts to be studied under the lens of postcolonial theory.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Gain a postcolonial perspective on literature written in India and other erstwhile colonies
  2. Identify major postcolonial writers and trends in postcolonial literatures
  3. Apply postcolonial methodology to interpret literature
  4. Think in a self-reflexive manner about their own history
  5. Think critically and engage with the postcolonial times in a nuanced manner
  6. Carry out research in the field of postcolonial literatures
  7. Work in a group as the presentations in the course have been designed as a group activity
  8. Articulate themselves both in speaking and writing in a lucid manner

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:


This module will introduce students to Postcolonial Studies. Besides exploring the objectives and scope of this area of study the module will also take up basic terms like colonialism, imperialism and post-colonialism on which subsequent modules are based.


This module looks at the question of English language and literary studies in postcolonial societies. Beyond the question of language that the post-colonial writers have fiercely debated this module will also look at how post-colonial writers have responded to some literary texts which they have found to be embedded in colonialist ideology.


Drawing on the theoretical formulations of Ernest Renan, Ernest Gellner, Benedict Anderson, Frantz Fanon and Partha Chatterjee this module will look at the question of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ as significant categories for post-colonial societies. This module will also look at how ‘cultural nationalism’ has been appropriated in post-colonial societies and as it emerged in their literatures.


This module will look at an important constituent of post-colonial cultures viz. diaspora and identity formation. Drawing on theoretical insights of scholars like Stuart Hall, Homi Bhabha and Vijay Mishra the module will examine cultural identities as fluid rather than stable categories.

Reading List:

  • Anderson, Benedict. [Selections from] Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London and New York: Verso, 1983.
  • Ashcroft, Bill, et al. “Introduction”. Eds. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. New York: Routledge, 1989.
  • Bhabha, Homi. “Of Mimicry and Men: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse”. October 28 (1984). ___________. “Signs Taken for Wonders: Reflections on Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree outside Delhi””. Race, Writing and Difference. Ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. University of Chicago Press, 1986.
  • Bharti, Dharamvir. Andha Yug (The Blind Epoch). Tr. Alok Bhalla. New Delhi: OUP, 2009.
  • Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. Translated by Joan Pinkham. Monthly Review Press, 2001.
  • Dharwadker, Aparna Bhargava. “The Formation of a “New National Canon””. Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India since 1947.New Delhi:
  • OUP, 2006. Fanon, Frantz . “On National Culture”, The Wretched of the Earth. Preface by Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • Trans. Constance Farrington (1963), 1st Evergreen Edn, New York: Grove Press, 1991. Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”. Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader.
  • Ed. Padmini Mongia. London: Arnold, 1996. Migrant Music of Caribbean islands.
  • Ngugi wa Thing’o, “The Quest for Relevance”. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey, 1981.
 Ray, Satyajit (dir.) Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players, 1977)
  • Renan, Ernst. “What is a Nation?” Nation and Narration. Ed. Homi K Bhabha. London: Routledge, 1990 (1882).
  • Rhys, Jean.Wide Sargasso Sea. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968. Said, Edward. “Introduction.” Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. London: Penguin, 1991 (1978).


  • Ahmad, Aijaz “Orientalism and After: Ambivalence and Cosmopolitan Location in the Work
  • of Edward Said.” Economic and Political Weekly27.30 (July 25 1992).
  • Ashcroft, Bill, et al, ed. “Cutting the Ground: Critical Models of Post-Colonial Literatures”. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. New York: Routledge, 1989.
  • Awasthi, Suresh. “‘Theatre of Roots’: Encounter with Tradition”. The Drama Review 33.4 (1989).
  • Brathwaite, Edward Kamau. “Creolization in Jamaica”. The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770–1820 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.
  • Cesaire, Aime. A Tempest. Trans. Richard Miller. Ubu Repertory Theater Publications, 1992. Chatterjee, Partha. “Whose Imagined Community?” The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial
  • and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1993. ______________. “The Nation and its Women”. The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1993.
  • Dharwadker, Aparna. “Orientalism, Cultural Nationalism, and the Erasure of the Present”. Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India since 1947.
  • New Delhi: OUP, 2006. Frantz Fanon, “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness”. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farrington. NY: Grove Press, 1963 (1961).
  • Gandhi, M. K. Hind Swaraj and Other Writings. Ed. Anthony J. Parel. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.
  • Mishra, Vijay, “The Diasporic Imaginary: Theorising the Indian Diaspora”. Textual Practice 10.3 (1996).
  • Nandy, Ashis. “The Psychology Of Colonialism : Sex, Age And Ideology In British India”.
  • The Intimate Enemy. New Delhi, OUP, 1983. Shohat, Ella. “Notes on the Post-Colonial”. Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Social Text 31/32 (1992).

Assessment Details with weights:

S. No


Date/period in which Assessment will take place




After Module 2,3 &4



Mid-semester exam

Mid October



Term paper

End of November