A crane across a skyline

“Development”—and its myriad cognates, including “underdevelopment,” “uneven development,” “developing nations,” “human development index” and so forth—has been the central paradigm framing colonial and postcolonial geopolitical and economic structures over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The aim of this graduate course is twofold: first, we will trace the history and evolution of the term “development”; its historical impact on colonial, postcolonial, and international forms of governance; and its imbrication with other political discourses like human rights and gender equality. Second, the course will read twentieth- and twenty-first century colonial, postcolonial, and world Anglophone fiction to see how various novelistic forms, especially the Bildungsroman—the quintessential narrative of development—adapt themselves to different socio-historical conditions of development and intervene in broader political debates. The reading list is still in flux, but will likely include theorists such as: Arturo Escobar, James Ferguson, Amartya Sen, Giovanni Arrighi, and David Harvey. We may also look at a range of primary materials, including government documents on colonial development and World Bank and IMF reports. Authors we may read include: Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief, Joyce Cary’s Mister Johnson, Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day, or Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable from the first half of the century; and Ngugi Wa Thiong’O’s Petals of Blood, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born; Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions; Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place; Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness; Chris Abani’s GraceLand, or Zadie Smith’s NW from the second half of the century.

MA-Lit Course Designation: Literature After 1800, Multicultural/Postcolonial Literature, C (Bodies/Identities/Collectivities), D (Cultures/Politics/Histories)