ENGL 047D. Southeast Asian Literature in English
In traditional terms the part of the world between China and India, Southeast Asia lies at a global crossroads where the giants of the continent have historically spread their influence and where the East met the West due to the European scramble for "the (East) Indies." Its position at these borderlands has made Southeast Asia one of the world's most diverse, but also liminal, sites, as indicated by its elision in history and literary studies (including in postcolonial studies, if not as much in area studies). Given the minor role to which it is relegated in the world and in Asia, how does the history of Southeast Asia get narrated in its literature-in particular, in literature written in or translated into English, the postwar lingua franca? This course charts modern Southeast Asian history through literature from or about its different periods-from the colonial era to the world between the wars to independence to the contemporary time. In the process, we will examine the literary strategies invented and adopted by locals to tell their (version of) history as well as the language of transmission-a language that, as it becomes more and more universal, might efface the very thing for which we are looking. Readings will come from mainland and maritime Southeast Asia as well as the diaspora and may include Dumb Luck, The Harmony Silk Factory, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, Only a Girl, Insurrecto, Virtual Lotus, and A/PART.
Eligible for ASIA, GLBL-paired
Spring 2022. Ku.
Catalog chapter: English Literature
Department website: https://www.swarthmore.edu/english-literature
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