Winter term 2011/2012

Below you will find all classes taught by staff members associated with the English, Postcolonial and Media Studies in winter term 2011/2012

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein
Dr. Silke Stroh
Dr. Markus Schmitz

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein

Colonial History, Literature, and Postcolonial Theory

095750 | Vorlesung | 2 SWS | Tue 14-16 | Audimax

This series of interrelated lectures analyses the connections and disconnections between colonialism, literature and postcolonial theory. Not only the historical experience of colonialism but also colonial literature continues to influence a number of texts written in former colonies. This lecture therefore investigates in which ways both postcolonial literature and postcolonial theory have responded to and fought against these influences. To this end we will focus on canonical British texts including Shakespeare's The Tempest (1611), Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847), Kipling's Kim (1901), Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902), Forster's A Passage to India (1924) and their postcolonial rewritings and critiques.

The “Brixton Riots”: 30 years on

096078 | Hauptseminar | 2 SWS | Wedn. 14-16 | ES 2

In 1981, the Metropolitan police and black Londoners clashed in the so-called Brixton riots, causing the worst disorder Britain had seen in a century. 30 years on, this seminar seeks to answer three questions: What were the historical conditions that led to the protests? How has the unrest been represented in newspapers, photographs, in documentaries, on TV, and literary texts? Thirdly, what has (and what has not) changed in London since then?

Provisional list of materials to be studied in the class:
Contemporary news footage, photography and journalism
Selected poems by Linton Kwesi Johnson
Scarman Report (1981)
Macpherson Report (1999)
The Battle for Brixton (dir. Rachel Currie, video, 2001)
South West Nine (dir. Richard Parry, film, 2001)
Roy Rankin & Raymond Naptali, Brixton Incident (2001):
Alex Wheatle, Brixton Rock (1999) and/or East of Acre Lane (2001)
South West Nine (dir. Richard Parry, film, 2001)

This class would ideally be conducted as an excursion to Brixton, South London. In order to facilitate this, an application for financial support has been made. Participants of the class will be notified about the outcome of the application and any changes to the teaching location of the seminar.
Preparatory meeting / Vorbesprechung:
An obligatory preparatory meeting will take place on Thu., 14.7., 4-6 pm.
Die obligatorische Vorbesprechung findet Do., 14.7., 16-18h statt.

KO PTTS: Research colloquium Postcolonial, Transnational and Transcultural Studies

PhD Colloquium | 1 SWS | Tue 18-20 |

By invitation only.

KO Betreuungsseminar

096575 | Colloquium | 2 SWS | Tue 16-18 | 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 getrennten Sitzungen – mit allen Prüfungstypen; es geht 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. TeilnehmerInnen besuchen die für sie relevanten Sitzungen, sowie zwei verbindliche Plenarsitzungen.
Für Studierende, deren BA-, MA-, MAed-Arbeit durch mich betreut werden, findet 14-tägig ein Examenskolloquium (Di, 16-18h) statt. Hier werden Projekte präsentiert und diskutiert.
Persönliche Anmeldung ist nicht erforderlich (sie erfolgt in der ersten Sitzung), aber die elektronische Anmeldung in HISLSF ist erforderlich.

Postgraduate Class

096537 | Colloquium | 2 SWS | Wedn 10-12 |

The postgraduate class is a forum in which MA BAP and NTS students present and discuss their research findings and/or their MA project. Students build on knowledge, experience and skills gained in “Research Module I” to further develop their specialised research interests, pursuing independent studies on one or several subjects of their choice which may/will lead to (and later complement) their Master theses. It is also a forum in which career plans and options can be discussed – and ways of realizing them.


 Dr. Silke Stroh

Magic realism

095860 | BA-seminar | 2 SWS | Tue 10-12 | ES 3

Used in both literature and fine art, the concept of magic(al) realism could briefly be described as a term for works which combine “realistic narrative and naturalistic technique [...] with surreal elements of dream or fantasy” (Oxford Dictionary of English, 2010). Magical realism has become a key concept in literary criticism, and a mode of writing used by a large number of hugely successful authors around the globe. This course provides a transcultural introduction to magical realist literature. We will survey the genesis of the concept, discuss its use in literary criticism, and study several key texts from a range of geographical, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. These will include three major novels and several short stories. Particular emphasis will be placed on the relationship between magical realism and postcolonialism, and the use of magical realism in political writing.

Nation, Nationalism, Transnationalism: Historical and Theoretical Foundations

096336 | MA-seminar | 2 SWS | Tue 16-18 (room to be announced, see updates on LSF)

This course will explore a wide variety of texts, issues and concepts which are central to the study of nationhood, nationalism and transnationalism. This will be done from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing especially on the fields of history, the social sciences, as well as literary and cultural theory. Topics will include: pre-modern political and cultural (as well as national?) constructs of community; modernity and the nation state; the nation as ‘imagined community’; nation(alism) and colonialism/anti-colonialism/postcolonialism; nation and language; the role of minori­ties; regionalism; stateless nations; heterogeneity in terms of class and gender; as well as recent transnational developments in the fields of supra-national cooperation (for instance on EU or UN level), economic and cultural globalisation, migration and diasporas. We will explore these general topics by focusing on a number of national/regional case studies from different parts of the world, including the British Isles, America and Africa.

We will discuss excerpts from a wide range of publications. Set texts will be made available in the dept. library during the term.
Lists with recommendations for additional (optional) reading (for this class and for this M.A. course in general) will likewise be made available during term-time.

For those who wish to do preparatory reading during the summer, here is a selection of texts we will discuss over the first eight weeks of term:

  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983), new ed. London & New York: Verso 2006, excerpt: 2-4, 6-14, 19, 24-26, 33-38, 40-42, 47-50, 61, 63-65, 67-82, 90-94, 113-116, 118-120, 133-135, 139 f, 143-146, 163 f, 168-175, 178-185, 204-206.
  • McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester & New York: Manchester UP 2000, pp. 67-130, 136-138.
  • Bhabha, Homi K. "Introduction: Narrating the Nation." Bhabha (ed), Nation and Narration, London & New York: Routledge 1990, 1-7.
  • Gardiner, Michael. Modern Scottish Culture, Edinburgh: Edin­burgh UP 2005, 11-14, 17, 21.
  • Colley, Linda. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837. New Haven CT & London: Yale UP 1992. Repr. London et al.: Pimlico 1994, 5-8, 164-177, 193 f, 219-228, 364-375.
  • Ernest Renan, "Qu' est-ce qu'une nation?" (Lecture, 11th Mar 1882, Sorbonne, Paris. Oeuvres Complètes, Paris 1947-1961, vol. 1, 887-907. Transl. (by Martin Thom) as "What is a Nation?", in: Homi K. Bhabha (ed), Nation and Narration, London & New York: Routledge 1990, 8-22.)
  • Vecoli, R. "The Significance of Immigration in the Formation of an American Identity", The History Teacher 30.1 (1996): 9-27.
  • Hollinger, D. "Authority, Solidarity, and the Political Economy of Identity: The Case of the United States", Diacritics 29.4 (1999): 116-27.
  • Basch, Linda; Cristina Szanton Blanc; & Nina Glick Schiller. Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Global Predica­ments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States. Amster­dam et al.: Gordon & Breach 1994, 4th ed. 1997. 40-45.
  • Gerstle, G. "Liberty, Coercion, and the Making of Americans", The Journal of American History 84.2 (1997): 524-58.Spickard, Paul. Almost All Aliens, 2007, ch. 9.
  • Frantz Fanon, "On National Culture," from The Wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove 1963 (tr. of Les damnés de la terre, Paris: Francois Maspéro 1961), pp. 206-48.
  • Achebe, Chinua. "The African Writer and the English Language," Morning Yet on Creation Day, London: Heinemann, & New York: Anchor/Doubleday 1975; e.g. repr. in Laura Chrisman & Patrick Williams (ed), Colonial Discourse and Postcolo­nial Theory: A Reader, New York: Columbia UP 1994, 428-434.
  • Ngugi, "The Language of African Literature," Decolonizing the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, London et al.: James Currey et al. 1986, 4-33)
  • Anthias, Floya; & Nira Yuval-Davis. "Introduction." Anthias & Yuval-Davis (ed), Woman - Nation - State, Basingstoke et al.: Macmillan 1989, 1-15.
  • Kandiyoti, Deniz. "Identity and its Discontents: Women and the Nation," Millennium Journal of Inter­national Studies 20.3 (1991), repr. in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, ed. Laura Chrisman & Patrick Williams (New York: Columbia UP, 1994): 376-91.


Dr. Markus Schmitz

Cultural Resistance in Postcolonial Audio-Visual Representations

095803 | Proseminar | 2 SWS | Tue 16-18 | ES 130

This seminar examines the role of audio-visual arts in contemporary postcolonial cultural practice. It provides an introduction into selected artistic works which are produced in response to the aftermath and continuing effects of colonialism. Drawing on works by concept and performance artists and video artist from a variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds (focus on Arab American artists) it traces the ways in which postcolonial art bridges the realms of political resistance and cultural production. The seminar invites students to explore how these works counter the repetitive imaginary of dominant Western representations in order to express a commitment to local and global emancipatory struggles.

Class discussions will revolve around the following questions: How do postcolonial arts reflect the many worlds inhabited by the artists and their audience? How do postcolonial artists manage to infuse resistive activism into their artistic practice? How is their cultural practice related to postcolonial struggles for freedom and justice and how do these works correspond with current theoretical debates? How does postcolonial art address issues of national and cultural identity/difference within contested relationships of unequal power relations and structural inequality? How are issues of (neo-)colonialism, imperialism, migration, and racism addressed? What is the relation of the political issues addressed and the aesthetic forms /representational modes used in these works?

Covering a wide range of audio-visual representations the course aims at guiding students through the complex debate of global art with a particular emphasis on its relevance for contemporary postcolonial discourse. Thus this seminar provides both, an introduction into the theory and methods of visual studies and into the key concepts of postcolonial criticism such as re-presentation, (counter-)archive, decentering, writing back, and mimicry. 

Introductory Reading:

Crinson, Mark. "Fragments of Collapsing Space: Postcolonial Theory and Contemporary Art." In: Amelia Jones (Ed.).  A Companion to Contemporary Art since 1945. London: Blackwell, 2006. 450-469.

Enwezor, Okwui. "The Postcolonial Constellation: Contemporary Art in a State of Permanent Transition." Research in African Literatures – Vol. 34, No. 4, Winter 2003, 57-82.

First class meeting: 11.10.2011

Artists’ videos, links, and other materials will be made available.


Prerequisites: Students are expected to give an oral presentation and contribute regularly to discussions in class. For accreditation, a term paper (3.000 words, MLA-style) is required.

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

Visions and Re-Visions of Empire: Introduction to Contrapuntal Reading

096097 | 2 SWS | Wedn 14-16 | ES 130

"As we look back at the cultural archive, we begin to reread it not univocally but contrapuntally, with a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts."

(Edward W. Said. Culture and Imperialism, 1993)

Contrapuntal reading is a method of literary and cultural interpretation first introduced by the Palestinian-American critic Edward Said in his seminal study Culture and Imperialism (1993). It aims at exploring the dense relationship between European culture and the colonial enterprise. This seminar provides a detailed introduction into one of Said’s most important contributions to the study of the overlapping histories of imperialism and resistance to imperialism with a particular emphasis on its relevance for postcolonial literary theory and criticism.

Drawing on selected literary representations ranging from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) and reading back these canonical Western texts from the perspective and through the writings of the (former) colonized like Derek Walcott (Pantomime, 1978) or Tayeb Salih (Season of Migration to the North, 1968) the seminar provides ways into understanding and using key concepts of contrapuntal reading such as worldliness, voyage in, polyphony, discrepant experiences and intertwined histories.

Introductory Reading:

Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage, 1993.

First class meeting: 12.10.2011


Prerequisites: 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.