Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Once again, I will teaching in the fall. I wanted this latest class to be a bit of a departure from my last class, Narratives of War.  It is entitled “Ghosts of Empire: Twentieth-Century British Literature & Its Postcolonial Hauntings.”  Here is my description from the English Department’s course page:

In this course, we will examine twentieth-century British literature in the light of colonial intervention and resistance.   As Walter Benjamin wrote, “To articulate the past historically…means to seize hold of memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.”  The unfortunate reality for postcolonial history is that these violent flash points reoccur in the same locales with a tragic repetition that haunts not only the writings of empire but postcolonial literature.  Together, we will trace these hauntings beginning in the early twentieth century and ending with contemporary writings.  The first unit of the course will explore narratives of empire as written by the likes of Rudyard Kipling and T. E. Lawrence, confronting their vexed relationship to the imperial project.  The second unit will address colonial resistance and the empire’s violent legacy through the writings of postcolonial authors such as Salmon Rushdie and Chinua Achebe.  Lastly, the third unit will analyze how these “flashes of danger” are restaged in the present day in neocolonial discourses such as counterinsurgency doctrine.  In addition to literary texts, there will be historical and cultural readings and analysis to provide the requisite context for each work.  Students will be encouraged to think critically about a number of issues including but not limited to race, gender, sexuality, and trauma.

I was assigned the task of teaching an upper-division British and Postcolonial Literature in light of my studies into war culture, and this is what I came up with.  I am still tweaking the syllabus, but here’s how it stands right now…

Update (8/11/10): As much as it pains me, I am cutting back on my homeboy T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I ordered the complete 1922 text, which seemed manageable until I got a copy in my hands.  The edition from BN Publishing has more words per page than an organic chemistry textbook.  Plus, I’m not crazy about the edition itself.  As far as I can tell from secondary sources, the dedication to “S. A.” is present in this edition, but BN Publishing left it out for no good reason.  From a postcolonial/gender studies perspective, that is a huge oversight.  Therefore, I feel compelled to send those books back and cut Lawrence down to about 20 pages from the 1926 edition.  Bummer.  At any rate, I am filling the void with Graham Greene’s The Quiet American.

If you didn’t notice, I’m going all Oxford on this class with the tutorials.  I thought it would befit a British literature course.  We’ll see if it goes over better than my impression of Mr. DuBois from American literature.  Ha-ha!

At any rate, here’s my latest revisions.  See what you think:

Week 1
Monday (8/23): Course overview and Introductions

Wednesday (8/25): Introduction to Colonialism; Robert J. C. Young, “Colonialism” and “Imperialism” in Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction

Friday (8/27): Edward Ingram, “Great Britain’s Great Game: An Introduction” [Available via e-Learning in Sakai]; Rudyard Kipling, Kim (Ch. 1)

Week 2
Monday (8/30): Kipling, Kim (Ch. 2 – Ch. 4)

Wednesday (9/1): Kipling, Kim (Ch. 5 – Ch. 7)

Friday (9/3): Kipling, Kim (Ch. 8 – Ch. 10)

Week 3
Monday (9/6): No class

Wednesday (9/8): Kipling, Kim (Ch. 11 – Ch. 13)

Friday (9/10): Kipling, Kim (Ch. 14 – Ch. 15, finish text)

Week 4
Monday (9/13): selection, T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph [available via e-Learning in Sakai]; Kaja Silverman, “White Skin, Brown Masks: The Double Mimesis: or, With Lawrence of Arabia” [Available via e-Learning in Sakai]

Wednesday (9/15): T. E. Lawrence, “The Twenty-Seven Articles of T. E. Lawrence” [available via e-Learning in Sakai]; David Kilcullen, “The Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency” [available via e-Learning in Sakai]

Friday (9/17): selection, John Ellis, The Social History of the Machine Gun [available via ARES]; selection, Sven Lindqvist, A History of Bombing [available via e-Learning in Sakai]; David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum, “Death from Above, Outrage down Below” [available via e-Learning in Sakai]

Week 5
Monday (9/20): Introduction to Postcolonialism; Young, “Neocolonialism,” “Postcolonialism,” and “India III: Hybridity and Subaltern Agency”

Wednesday (9/22): Salmon Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1-53; stop at “Under the Carpet”)

Friday (9/24): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (53-101; stop at “Methwold”)

Week 6
Monday (9/27): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (101-155; stop at “Snakes and Ladders”)

Wednesday (9/29): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (155-206; stop at “Love in Bombay”)

Friday (10/1): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (206-255; stop at “Alpha and Omega”)

Week 7
Monday (10/4): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (255-306; stop at “Revelations”)

Wednesday (10/6): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (306-351; stop at “Jamila Singer”)

Friday (10/8): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (351-397; stop at “The Buddha”)

Week 8
Monday (10/11): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (397-465; stop at “A Wedding”); No class; tutorials (required)

Wednesday (10/13): Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (465-533; finish text)

Friday (10/15): No class

Week 9
Monday (10/18): No class

Wednesday (10/20): No class; tutorials (required)

Friday (10/22): No class; tutorials (required)

Week 10
Monday (10/25): No class; tutorials (required)

Wednesday (10/27): No class; tutorials (required)

Friday (10/29): No class; Research Paper #1 due (see “Section V. Assignments and Grading Criteria” for details)

Week 11
Monday (11/1): Postcolonial Violence; Young, “Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism” and “The Subject of Violence: Ireland and Algeria”

Wednesday (11/3): Chinua Achebe, A Man of the People (Ch. 1 – Ch. 4)

Friday (11/5): Achebe, A Man of the People (Ch. 5 – Ch. 10)

Week 12
Monday (11/8): Achebe, A Man of the People (Ch. 10 – Ch. 13; finish text)

Wednesday (11/10): No class

Friday (11/12): Gender; Young, “Women, Gender and Anti-colonialism”

Week 13
Monday (11/15): Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1-50)

Wednesday (11/17): Greene, The Quiet American (50-100)

Friday (11/19): Greene, The Quiet American (100-150)

Week 14
Monday (11/22): Greene, The Quiet American (150-208; finish text)

Wednesday (11/24): Counterinsurgency and ‘Ghosts of Empire’; selection, David Galula, Counterinsurgency: Theory and Practice [available via ARES]

Friday (11/26): No class

Week 15
Monday (11/29): No class; tutorials (required)

Wednesday (12/1): No class; tutorials (required)

Friday (12/3): No class; tutorials (required)

Week 16
Monday (12/6): No class; tutorials (required)

Wednesday (12/8): Conclusion; Research Paper #2 due (see “Section V. Assignments and Grading Criteria” for details)


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First and foremost, I would like to thank all those men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military. We would remiss not to also acknowledge the service of the Intelligence Community. It was not too long ago that the CIA put its 90th star on its Memorial Wall in honor of fellow Floridian Gregg Wenzel who died in the line of duty in Kenya. As a civilian, I do not feel like I have much to add to these tributes besides restate the moving sentiment of veterans like this one, which honors each and every member of the military, from the good folks at Blackfive.

My own small tribute has been not on this blog but in the classroom with my course “Narratives of War, 1865-Present.” Although the goal of the course is to expose students to a wide range of literature and film about war as well as issues confronting warfighters and their families, there has been an unexpected and perhaps greater significance to my class.  As the semester progresses, a growing number of students who have family or loved ones in the military have told me that the works we have read have given them an insight into their experiences and sacrifices. It is incredibly rewarding to hear a student remark that a book or film has given him or her a greater understanding of their father, mother, brother, sister, or other loved one.

Even then, it is hard not to feel somehow inadequate in the face of so many–including members of my own family–who have given so much in service of the United States of America.  For now, this is all I have to offer.

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