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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: The Francophone Postcolonial: Theory and Literature (Ordinary) (ELCF09034)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis Option course will examine the development of francophone postcolonial thought since the late 1940s through the study of a number of seminal works of theory and literature. Although certain important contributors to debates relating to colonialism such as Fanon and Sartre have long been recognised beyond the French-speaking world, others have been largely overlooked by scholars and general readers alike. The lack of international recognition accorded to the considerable oeuvre of Edouard Glissant until relatively recently is a particularly noteworthy example, but the writings of theorist Albert Memmi or of novelists such as Raphael Confiant and Patrick Chamoiseau have similarly not enjoyed the degree of attention of which they are undoubtedly worthy. This course will trace the origins of postcolonial thought and offer an overview of the central themes and preoccupations associated with thinking about colonial and postcolonial questions in the francophone context. Students will also be given some insight into how these debates relate to parallel or contemporaneous debates in the Anglophone postcolonial context. In the interests of ensuring thematic coherence, the literary texts studied will all be works by writers of francophone Caribbean background. Themes covered on the course will include: bi-linguistic and bi-cultural identities in the context of colonial and postcolonial societies; the politics of anti-colonial struggle; the legacy of slavery; interstitiality and in-betweenness; creolisation; the race/culture debate; creolist literary aesthetics; postcolonialism, postmodernity and globalisation.
Course description Syllabus

Week 1
Sartre, Orphée noir
The first class will focus on the inception of postcolonial thinking in the francophone context. This text of Sartre¿s, published in the late 1940s, introduced ¿négritude¿ poetry and thought to the general readership thereby helping to give greater legitimacy to a powerfully anti-colonial cultural movement.

Week 2
Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs
In this now classic work Fanon examines the psychological implications of being a black citizen in colonial territories ruled by a minority white community.

Week 3
Césaire, Discours sur le colonialisme
Extracts from Anthologie des poésies noires et malgaches
Aimé Césaire was closely associated with the ¿négritude¿ movement as a poet, but was also a leading politician serving as ¿député¿ for Martinique from 1945 to 19?? . His Discours was a powerful rallying call to those oppressed by colonialism.

Week 4
Memmi Portrait du colonisateur, portrait du colonisé
This work, prefaced by Sartre as would be Les Damnés de la Terre, offered a distinctive perspective on issues related to colonialism by highlighting the ways in which the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised conditions each of them.

Week 5
Fanon, Les Damnés de la Terre (extracts)
This book quickly became one of the best known and most widely cited works in the field of anti-colonial theory. Written and published shortly before Fanon¿s death, it blends anti-colonial and Marxist universalist thought, also offering perceptive analyses of the challenges facing newly independent nations.

Week 6
Anglophone postcolonial perspectives:
Bhabha The Location of Culture (extracts), Spivak ¿Can the Subaltern Speak?¿ and Gilroy The Black Atlantic (extracts)
For many years the development of postcolonial studies as a field of research took place predominantly in the Anglophone context and it is hence important to gain an awareness of some of the key debates in this area. We will look at the concepts of hybridity and in-betweenness as articulated by Bhabha, the inception of what was to become the field of Subaltern Studies by reading the best known article in the field, and Gilroy¿s somewhat militant defense of black cultures in and surrounding the Atlantic area.

Week 7
Chamoiseau, Confiant, Bernabé Eloge de la créolité
Arguably the leading postcolonial politico-cultural tendency in the French West Indies after ¿négritude¿, ¿créolité¿ involved asserting a determinate creole identity with the militant intention of supporting the movement for secession from France, Martinique and Guadéloupe being (and remaining to this day) ¿départements¿.

Week 8
Chamoiseau, Solibo Magnifique
Condé, La Traversée de la Mongrove
The intertextual dialogue which exists between these literary two works is replete with ramifications for issues pertaining to Caribbean identity. Where Chamoiseau has defended a fundamentally essentialist and traditionalist image of Caribbeanness, Condé responded the following year with a parodic re-writing of his Solibo conversely promoting an open-ended, modern and rootless conception of what is it to be a creole.

Week 9
Confiant, Nègre marron
A creolist novel by a leading contemporary Martiniquan author which highlights issues relating to the legacy of slavery.

Week 10
Glissant, Poétique de Relation (extracts)
Edouard Glissant is generally acknowledged to be the most eminent writer and thinker in the francophone Caribbean context. His Poétique opened up a new chapter in his oeuvre, one which ultimately proved to be the antecedent to all his thought of the last twenty years of his life. Glissant argues in favour of ¿creolisation¿ which, being a process, should be distinguished from the more essentializing ¿créolité¿.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: French 2 (ELCF08001)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Ordinary Students and Visiting Students only
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesIn order to be eligible to take 4th Year Options, Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s).
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  3
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Coursework:
1 x 1500 word essay (80%)
1 x in-class presentation (10%)
1 x class participation (10%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To demonstrate an advanced knowledge of a significant number of primary source text in their socio-historical and cultural contexts as well as a good understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks needed to analyse them.
  2. To select and apply relevant theoretical and methodological approaches in their critical evaluation of postcolonial theoretical and literary texts and to demonstrate mastery of relevant technical terminology and research methods.
  3. To assess and synthesise primary and secondary sources and to engage critically with these sources, showing awareness of nuance and accommodating ambiguities.
  4. To construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and the relevant contexts and to present them with a high level of clarity in both oral and written form.
  5. To demonstrate autonomy and initiative in their activities, carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor, and to show awareness of their own and others' roles and responsibilities as part of a team.
Reading List
Set Texts (in some cases extracts alone will be used and these will be available on LEARN):
Bhabha, H. The Location of Culture (Routledge, 1994)
Césaire, A. *Discours sur le colonialisme, suivi de Discours sur la négritude (Broché, 2000 [1955 et 1987])
Chamoiseau, P. *Solibo Magnifique (Gallimard, 1988)
Chamoiseau, Confiant, Bernabé *Eloge de la créolité (Gallimard, 1989)
Condé, M. *La Traversée de la Mangrove (Folio, 1992 [1989])
Confiant, R. *Nègre marron (Ecriture, 2006)
Fanon, F. *Peau noire, masques blancs (Poche, 1971 [1953])
*Les Damnés de la Terre (Broché, 2004 [1961])
Gilroy, P. The Black Atlantic (Harvard University Press, 1993)
Glissant, E. Le Soleil de la conscience (Seuil, 1960)
*Poétique de la relation (Gallimard, 1990)
Memmi, A. *Portrait du colonisé, précédé du Portrait du colonisateur (Folio, 2002 [1957])
Sartre, J.-P. *'Orphée noir', in Situations III (Gallimard, 1949 [1948])
Spivak, G. 'Can the Subaltern Speak ?'

Secondary reading (a brief indicative bibliography):
Anderson, B. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983)
Bongie, C. Islands and Exile: The Creole Identities of Post/Colonial Literature (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998)
Friends and Enemies: The Scribal Politics of Post/colonial Literature (Liverpool UP, 2008)
Confiant, R. Aimé Césaire: une Traversée paradoxale du siècle (Ecriture, 2006 [1993])
Forsdick, C. and Murphy, D. (eds.) Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction (London: Arnold, 2003
Gallagher, M. Soundings in French Caribbean Writing Since 1950 (Oxford University Press, 2002)
Suk, J. Postcolonial Paradoxes in French Caribbean Writing (Oxford University Press, 2001)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will have further developed their skills in the areas of research and enquiry, personal and intellectual autonomy, communication, and personal effectiveness. For further specification of these skills see the university¿s graduate and employability skills framework at
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Samuel Coombes
Course secretaryMrs Elsie Gach
Tel: (0131 6)50 8421
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