ENGL 047E. Southeast Asian Literature in Translation

In traditional terms the part of the world between China and India, Southeast Asia lies at a global crossroads where its more powerful neighbors have spread their influence and where the East met the West in the European scramble for "the (East) Indies." This position at a Pacific borderland has long led the region to function as a transnational contact zone, thus to be defined in reference to external actors-as intimated by a name for its peninsular half, "Indochina"-or in indeterminate ways-as intimated by a name for its maritime half, the "Malay Archipelago." Given this irreducibly minor status to which Southeast Asia is relegated (not to mention the region's multifarious colonial histories and diverse indigenous regimes), is there a Southeast Asian literature? If so, what histories does it lend sight of, both particular to the (nations in the) region and symptomatic of the world? This course turns to Southeast Asian literature that has been translated for a global readership-to folk tales, a "medieval" chronicle, the colonial novel/serial, a World War II novel, magic realism, melodrama, and ecofiction-to chart national/regional/world history from precolonial to contemporary times. In the process, it will examine history and literature's common narrative structure and incommensurability, thus the potentials and problems of translation. Readings will be in English and may include NusantaraThe Genealogy of Kings (Sulalat Al-Salatin), Noli Me TangereDumb Luck (So Do), Potions and Paper Cranes (Perempuan Kembang Jepun), Beauty is a Wound (Cantik Itu Luka), The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth (Saiduean Ta Bod Nai Khaowongkot), Revenge of Gaia, and Virtual Lotus. This is the second of a two-part course sequence that also includes Engl 47D, "Southeast Asian Literature in English" (47D and 47E may be taken independently of each other and in any order, and may also be combined into an Honors preparation).
20th/21st c.
1 credit.
Eligible for ASAM, ASIA, GLBL-paired, CPLT.
Spring 2023. Ku.
Catalog chapter: English Literature  
Department website: https://www.swarthmore.edu/english-literature

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