In the “Notanda” to M. NourbeSe Philip’s poem(s) Zong!, she explains that she felt the imperative to write this “story that cannot be told yet must be told.” If this text and others present themselves as writing an impossibility, then what are they communicating? How do the choices of genre and medium affect the way we read these texts? This course will look at pieces of postcolonial poetry and prose that throw the concept of narration into question. It will therefore investigate the question of genre in postcolonial literature by considering how to read texts that ask to be read but have simultaneously rendered themselves opaque. As a result, this course will introduce the idea of reading comparatively as a means of analyzing texts that ascribe to a genre and violate that genre at the same time. In doing so, it will address questions of representation, visibility, and legibility in Postcolonial Studies by investigating imperative and impossible literary practices. Literary texts will include but are not limited to M. NourbeSe Philip’s poem(s) Zong!, Albert Camus’ posthumously published novel manuscript The First Man, and Maryse Conde’s novel Crossing the Mangrove. Reading materials will also include theoretical texts from authors such as Edouard Glissant and Homi K. Bhabha.
Header Image by
Judith Levy, January 8 2019