HENK00023U English, 2013 curriculum - Free topic 13: Life Writing After Empire
The decolonisation of the British Empire has often been studied through public archives and the papers of political actors. However, studying the end of empire through life writing may offer access to a more intimate level of experience. In this course, we will study how individuals have responded to and articulated decolonisation in their autobiographies and memoirs.
A particular focus will be on memory: how reliable are these sources? What can they tell us about the imperial past and the postcolonial context of writing? How do the memories of individuals relate to the way societies commemorate the empire? What is the moral economy of traumatic memories? We will consider the importance of the context and get a sense of the differing experiences of decolonisation in various parts of the former empire, including the Caribbean, Australia and Southern Africa.
We will investigate the texts as at once literary texts with aesthetic qualities and historical sources that reveal much about their postcolonial time of writing and consider how this literary genre is harnessed to a project of personal and political positioning.
Main reading list
- Jill Ker Conway, The Road from Coorain (1989)
- Russel Ward, A Radical Life (1988)
- Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Solid Bluestone Foundations (1983)
- Austin Clarke, Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack (1980)
- Joyce Gladwell, Brown Face, Big Master (1969)
- George Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile (1960)
- Alexandra Fuller, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (2002)
- Peter Godwin, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun (2007)
Various extracts and articles – supplied online.
Content: Each session introduces a historical context or theoretical concept and then proceeds to examine a memoir or autobiography through that lens. The areas under scrutiny will be: Australia, the Anglophone Caribbean and Zimbabwe.
Learning: By critical analysis of autobiographies and memoirs (sometimes extracts); by student and tutor presentations of contexts and concepts; by group and class discussions.
Life Writing After Empire will be taught in weeks 44-50, four hours/week.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment
- Class Instruction