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Unit information: Postcolonial Environments in 2018/19

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Unit name Postcolonial Environments
Unit code ENGL30122
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Kirk Sides
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit aims to introduce students to the field of postcolonial writing through a discussion of key literary texts and how they have represented issues such as colonialism, decolonization, diaspora and postcolonial, transnational networks. We will discuss literary works from across the ‘Global South,’ paying specific attention to how this geographical and ideological designation came into formation. Our main area of focus will be on how postcolonial writing has dealt with questions of land, landscape, ecology and the environment. Reading a diverse groups of texts from a variety of postcolonial spaces the unit aims to map the role of the environment in the development of postcolonial writing over the last half a century. The unit will look at the relationship between postcolonial writing and discourses surrounding land redistribution, national culture, colonial resource extraction and ‘petrofiction’, as well as turns to Afrofuturism, science fiction, postcolonial utopias and dystopias, environmental apocalypse and the Anthropocene. The unit will ask where do we locate the post-colony? What kinds of spaces are considered post-colonial? How do postcolonial environments shape our understanding of the globe as well as the future of the planet?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of postcolonial literatures from the mid-twentieth century until today.
  2. articulate knowledge and make evaluations of historical processes of colonization, decolonization and how these bare on postcolonial spaces.
  3. demonstrate knowledge of debates within postcolonial writing related to questions of environmentalism, ecology, and land more generally.
  4. demonstrate skills in textual analysis, argumentation, close textual analysis, and critical interpretation appropriate to level H/6 using evidence from primary texts and secondary sources
  5. demonstrate skills in an oral presentation.

Teaching details

1 X 2 hour seminar weekly

Assessment Details

One x 3000-word essay (ILOs 1-4) (60%).

One 10-minute individual presentation to be given as part of a conference at the end of unit; the mark for the presentation will be combined with the mark for the presentation notes submitted online (ILOs 1, 2, 5) (40%).

Reading and References

1.Amos Tutuola, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

2.Michelle Cliff, Abeng

3.Zakes Mda, The Heart of Redness

4.Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide

5.Helon Habila, Oil on Water

6.Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon