Summer term 2011


Below you will find all classes taught by staff members associated with the English, Postcolonial and Media Studies in summer term 2011.

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein
Dr. Silke Stroh
Dr. Markus Schmitz
Dr. Christine Vogt-William

Bernardine Evaristo & Madeleine Thien

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein

From Postcolonial to Transnational Studies

095154 | Vorlesung | 2 SWS | Tue 16-18 | Audimax

How does the increased mobility of people, technologies, ideas, capital, and commodities continue to affect contemporary intellectual life, societies, as well as literary and cultural practices? This is the question which we are going to explore in this lecture. Methodologies ranging from Postcolonial to Transnational Studies allow us to engage with phenomena and experiences which exceed national, ethnic, linguistic, and religious boundaries and which thereby pose a challenge to traditional literary scholarship and its classification of texts and cultures in national and regional terms. Focussing primarily on literary and cultural formations, the lecture re-visits disciplinary boundaries, and seeks to ascertain in how far Postcolonial and Transnational Studies approaches critique and/or complement each other.

Transnational Literature and Postcolonial Theory

095742 | Hauptseminar | 2SWS | Di 18-20+Blocktermin | ES 3+Rothenberge

It is by no means a new phenomenon for literary texts to reach out, beyond the world of their readers and authors, and to represent elsewhere and the “other”; the figures of Caliban and Othello suffice as two examples from early modern England. However, today mobility (cultural products and other commodities, of people, capital, information) has become a defining experience for many; the unchanging fixities of state and nation, of race and culture have been challenged in countless ways. This seminar, then, deals with two texts as exemplars of a “transnational literature”, a kind of writing that is shaped by the expectations of multiple audiences across the globe; represents quotidian cross-cultural encounters; tells of the conflicts (and the humour) which result; and is marked by an aesthetic that exceeds national literary canons. We will critically engage with several examples of “postcolonial theory” and find out which textual elements they allow us to read and where the limits of this theory reside.

Reading Assignment: Students need to purchase and read Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist over the holidays.

The seminar will be conducted as a Blockseminar. After a few sessions in the English Seminar we will spend two and a half days in the University’s own retreat in Rothenberge. For dates and cost pls. consult the notice board.

Southern African Literature

095302 | Seminar | 2 SWS | Wedn 10-12 | ES 130

This seminar introduces you to a selection of texts (short stories, novels, dramas, and poems) from English-speaking Southern Africa (that is Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). We will first engage with the colonial history of this region, explore cultural and literary contexts, acquire some context-specific reading skills, and then turn to the postcolonial literatures produced there. Students are expected to present an oral presentation in class. Reading assignment: Over the semester break you will need to read two novels (s. Aushang). You need to purchase both books. Other short texts will be provided in a folder located in our library.

Requirement: Abschluss des literatur- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Aufbaumoduls

PhD Colloquium

095848 | PhD Colloquium | 2 SWS | Tue 14-16 |

The colloquium provides the space for discussing recent as well as by now classic texts from postcolonial, transnational and transcultural studies. The thematic focus for the winter semester will be social, cultural, and intellectual transmigrations. It is also a forum for presenting ongoing reserach towards MA-, Staatsexamen-, PhD-theses, or Habilitationen.

Betreuungsseminar Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft (für Examenskandidaten)

096366 | Colloquium | 2 SWS | Wedn 14-16 | ES 130

Diese Veranstaltung ist auf die Bedürfnisse von Studierenden zugeschnitten, die sich bei mir zum Examen angemeldet haben, die bei mir eine Modulabschlussprüfung absolvieren, oder denen ich vom Prüfungsamt als Prüfer zugewiesen wurde.

Die Veranstaltung befasst sich - in unterschiedlichen Sitzungen - mit allen Prüfungstypen; es geht es um schriftliche Prüfungen (Klausuren), mündliche Abschlussprüfungen (Staatsexamen/Magister), Modulabschlussprüfungen (mündlich, schriftlich) sowie um die Anfertigung von schriftlichen Hausarbeiten bzw. Examensarbeiten. Spezifische Probleme und Strategien der Prüfungsvorbereitung werden besprochen; Prüfungssimulationen können durchgeführt werden.

Der Syllabus wird in der ersten Sitzung am 6. April 2011 gemeinsam erstellt. Teilnehmer besuchen nur die für sie relevanten Sitzungen, sowie zwei verbindliche Plenarsitzungen.

Persönliche Anmeldung ist nicht erforderlich (sie erfolgt in der ersten Sitzung am 6.4.11) aber die elektronische Anmeldung in HISLSF ist erforderlich.

1. Session: 6.4.2010 (obligatorische Sitzung)
Set Text: "Dissemination" by Homi K. Bhabha in his The Location of Culture (Ordner zur Veranstaltung in der IB)


 Dr. Silke Stroh

Introduction to Irish Studies

095207 | Seminar | 2 SWS | Tue 16-18 | ES 3

This seminar provides an introduction to the general social, cultural and literary history of Ireland from the early Middle Ages to the present, combined with more detailed academic study of selected texts and themes. Focal subjects include cultural and linguistic plurality, changing relationships to England and Britain, constructions of national identity, and the position of Ireland in certain international political and cultural formations. We will read one novel, a play, and a variety of shorter primary texts such as poems, short stories, and excerpts from travel writing. Literary texts will not only be chosen from the body of anglophone literature, but also from Latin and Gaelic writing, the latter two being studied through English translations. We will also study a selection of secondary texts and relate our close readings of literary sources to postcolonial theory and other relevant theoretical frameworks.

Postgraduate Class

096170 | Colloquium | 2 SWS | Tue 10-12

This postgraduate class for 4th-semester students in the M.A. programmes “National and Transnational Studies” (NTS) and “British, American and Postcolonial Studies” (BAP) assists and supervises students’ independent study programme within their respective research modules, both with regard to their general reading lists and with regard to their own research projects, especially those connected to their M.A. theses. Students will present their projects, hypotheses and results, and receive feedback and advice, both thematic and organisational. For those intending to continue their academic studies after their M.A. graduation (e.g. via PhD study), there will also be an opportunity to discuss future research projects and career perspectives. The class will be a combination of in-class discussions and presentations and individual supervision.


Dr. Markus Schmitz

Orientalism: History, Literature, Criticism

095647| Hauptseminar | 2 SWS | Tue 12-14 | ES 333

"Direct observation or circumstantial descriptions are the fictions presented by writing on the Orient".
(Edward W. Said: Orientalism, 1978)

In the period of decolonization that followed the end of the Second World War a number of scholars, mainly Middle Eastern, launched a sustained critique of the dominant practice of representing ‘the Orient’ in Western thought – accusing its practitioners of strategic misrepresentation, prejudice and bias. As a result an intense debate occurred regarding the historical contexts and validity of the charges made, involving not only academic Orientalism but also scholars of several other disciplines as well as fictional writers. This debate has proved both instructive and enlightening, inspiring new critical approaches to study the relation between history, power and cultural production.  

Drawing on selected theoretical and fictional works (ranging from Karl Marx to contemporary Disney animations) this course provides an introduction to both, the history of Western representations of the so-called Arab-Islamic world and the critique of Orientalism. While our readings will cover a wide range of scholarly areas and subjects the course aims at guiding students through the complex debate with a particular emphasis on its relevance for cultural and literary studies. At the same time it provides ways into understanding and using key concepts of colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial criticism such as colonial archive, Eurocentricism, otherness, or imaginary geographies.  

Introductory Reading:
Said, Edward W. Orientalism. London: Routledge, 1978.

First class meeting: 05.04.2011
Students are expected to give an oral presentation and contribute regularly to discussions in class. For accreditation, a term paper (5.000 words, MLA-style) is required.

The introductory text must be read before the beginning of the semester.

Diasporic Feminist Writing

095761| Hauptseminar | 2 SWS | Wedn 14-16 | ES 3

While women of Colour living in the West have long been viewed as silenced objects of Western representations, they are increasingly making their voices heard. Including racism, colonialism and its legacies on the feminist agenda diasporic feminist writers contest a dominant Eurocentric gaze that privileges Western notions of liberation and progress and that portrays women of non-European background primarily as victims of their restrictive cultures and religions. Their writings intentionally go beyond the limitations that come from one's location in a particular place at a particular moment in history, and highlight the ways in which gender combines with race, class, sexuality, economic power and cultural capital in determining diasporic subjectivity. These narrative strategies and critical perspectives not only allow for taking ethnic diversity seriously but also thinking gender difference in new, non-oppressive ways. At the same time they resist Western feminists who seek to discursively colonize their lives, both in the West and in so-called Third World.

Focusing on selected critical and literary works the course offers an overview of contemporary diasporic feminist writings ranging from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970) to Leila Aboulela’s Lyrics Alley (2010). Students are invited to reflect and discuss how the experiences and articulations of women of Colour create spaces for breaking down racist binary categories and liberating gender difference.

Exploring how shifting social, political, and discursive contexts have pushed the voices of Diasporic women to the foreground the course at the same time places these works within the larger nomenclature of intersectionality and postcolonialism.

Introductory Reading:
Mirza, Heidi Safia (Ed.) Black British Feminism: A Reader. London: Routledge, 1997.

First class meeting: 06.04.2011

Students are expected to give an oral presentation and contribute regularly to discussions in class. For accreditation, a term paper (5.000 words, MLA-style) is required.

The introductory text must be read before the beginning of the semester.


Dr. Christine Vogt-William

Black Diaspora

095666 | Hauptseminar | 2 SWS | Tue 14-16 | ES 333

This seminar focuses on aspects of the African diasporas which are not immediately apparent. The primary text corpus offers perspectives on African presences in dialogue with the concept of “Indianness” in three different cultural contexts: the Caribbean, the United States and India. At the same time the ideas of “Indianness” will be interrogated.

With regard to the Caribbean, cultural contact between Indo-Caribbeans and Afro-Caribbeans in Trinidadian contexts will be the main focus, with a view to elucidating the concepts of douglarisation and dougla poetics.  Mixed race relationships in two Indo-Caribbean novels will be discussed in the consideration of social constructions of race in the Caribbean between the above-mentioned groups. In India the little-known fact of African migration to the western coastal regions of the subcontinent will be traced through historical articles on the subject, focusing on the culturally hybrid community of the Siddi in the Danda-Janjira region. Inter-racial relations between Africans and Indians will be considered on the basis of a Hindi film, which addresses racial and gender disparities in Mughal India.

The other “Indianess” to be brought into the dialogue is the context of the Native American. Here the complexities of mixed race African-Native American women’s lives using a range of interview transcripts from mixed race women, as well as a novel with an African-Native American female protagonist. Here the experiences of two marginalized cultural groups and the history of their cultural contact will form the backdrop against which the works are read.

Students are required to have acquired the texts and have read them by the beginning of the semester. Secondary material will be made available in a folder in the library. Student presentations and discussion are a required part of the course.

Primary Texts:

Ramabai Espinet. The Swinging Bridge. (2003)

Shani Mootoo. He Drown She in the Sea. (2004)

Kamal Amrohi. Razia Sultan. (1983)  [Film – English subtitles]

Michael Dorris. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. (1987)

Patrick Minges. Black Indian Slave Narratives. (2004) [interview transcripts]

Introductory session: Wednesday 02. Feb. 2011, in H19 from 09:00 to 09:20am

Caribbean Literature

095757 |Hauptseminar| 2 SWS | Tue 12-14 | ES 3

This seminar has the figure of the Indo-Caribbean woman as its main pivot of interrogation, with a view to elucidating the gendered aspects of post-slavery labour diasporas, in this case the system of indentured labour in the Caribbean. A range of primary texts interrogating concepts of class, and race both in historical and contemporary contexts, in the Caribbean and in diasporic situations will be discussed. Other frameworks to be considered include sexuality, family structures, generational differences, colonial history, socio-economic advancement and religion.

Students are required to have acquired the texts and have read them by the beginning of the semester. Secondary material will be made available in a folder in the library. Student presentations and discussion are a required part of the course.

Primary texts:

Olive Senior. The Arrival of the Snake Woman. (1989) [Short Story]

Ramabai Espinet, The Swinging Bridge (2003) [Novel]

Barred: Trinidad 1987. (1992) [Short Story]

Shani Mootoo. Cereus Blooms at Night. (1994) [Novel]

Merle Hodge. For the Life of Laetitzia. (1999) [Novel]

Marina Budhos. The Professor of Light. (1999) [Novel]

Introductory session: Wednesday 02. Feb. 2011, in H19 from 09:20 to 09:40am

Bollywood Film

095298 |Seminar| 2 SWS | Mon 12-14 | ES 130

Bollywood has recently come to occupy certain sectors of the Euro-American imagination with regard to ruminations on transnational capital and cultural flows. The world’s largest cinematic industry, while prolific, is by no means however, read as a hegemonically superior art form. Rather it serves often to challenge more dominant forms in the cinematic genre, through its elements of melodrama, campness and visual excess. Bollywood has instigated reflections on the involvements of South Asian diasporic communities across the globe with the subcontinent; the film industry has provided sites of transcultural contact and nodes of commonality in forming transnational networks. The main theoretical frameworks against which 7 contemporary Bollywood films will be read and analysed as cultural texts are: diaspora and postcolonial theories, gender and queer studies, concepts of transnationality and transculturality.

The films will be made available in the SAC – although interested students are encouraged to try and get these films either through DVD lending shops, through Amazon or Indian shops stocking Bollywood films (if they want their own copies) or through YouTube.

Students are required to have acquired these texts and have watched them by the beginning of the semester. Secondary material will be made available in a folder in the library. Student presentations and discussion are a required part of the course.

Primary Texts: [films]

Kabhie Khushie Kabhie Gham (2001)

Kal Ho Naa No (2003)

Salaam-Namaste (2005)

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2007)

Namastey London (2007)

Dostana (2007)

New York (2009)

Introductory session: Wednesday 02. Feb. 2011, in H19 from 09:40 to 10am

Postgraduate Class

096165 | 2 SWS | Mon 14-16 | ES 130

This course is for the beginners of the MA Nats and TNats program. Methods of research involving the library and internet, as well as planning of term papers, essays and theses will be addressed. Other issues involve academic dialogue, e.g. panel discussions, short statements and discussants, round tables and brainstorming; as well as putting together bibliographies, quotes and sources. Participants are recommended to come to class with  specific projects in mind, so that concrete steps can be considered. A preliminary bibliography along with a considerable amount of reading should have been undertaken during the Independent Study rubric from the first semester should already be in place. One-on-one consultation with the lecturer will take place in some sessions, when students have advanced in planning and research for their thesis projects. Ongoing research will be taken into consideration, whereby certain student project aspects may be considered on a seminar scale for general discussion at the lecturer’s discretion. Material will be made available on the BSCW platform and students will be informed on a regular basis via email.


Bernardine Evaristo & Madeleine Thien

The "reading classes" for the "Minorities and Migrations" module in the summer semester were held in the form of creative writing workshops by

Bernardine Evaristo: 04/04/2011-06/04/2011


Madeleine Thien: 05/07/2011-07/07/2011