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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: World Literature and the World Ocean (ENLI10395)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryTaking the world ocean as its organising principle, this course will allow students to engage with a range of disparate spaces and texts that are connected through the material, historical, economic and cultural flows of the ocean. By introducing students to contemporary theories from world literature studies and critical ocean studies the course will prompt students to explore alternative models of organising literary studies, ones that seek to contextualise literary works within a global framework as opposed to restrictions based upon period, genre or nationality. If world literature is understood as the literature of the capitalist world-system, this course prompts students to consider the extent to which the ocean registers the consequences of capitalist modernity and its attendant crises. The module will introduce students to a range of textual forms (including experimental poetry, the historical novel, magical realism, weird fiction and sci-fi) from across the globe (including the Caribbean, India, Nigeria, North America, South America, Australia and Oceania) and will map the ways in which different genres and geographies inscribe the historical, social, and ecological consequences of continuing imperialism and globalisation. The course will ask a series of key questions regarding the ways in which world literature registers the seas and oceans as mediums of exchange, encounter, and expropriation, and will further enable students to examine the critical intersections between world literature, postcolonial, and ecocritical perspectives. Of concern for this module will be how the emergent interdisciplinary area of the Blue Humanities recognises the ocean as not merely a backdrop to human action, but positions the ocean as an active force in shaping human histories, environments, and cultures.
Course description While the ocean often emerges at the margins of literary scholarship, its vast body is central to the production of food, energy, communication and transport links that underpin our daily lives. This course invites students to reorient the traditionally ¿terrestrial¿ focus of environmental literary discourse and to actively consider the role of the ocean in facilitating, shaping, and disrupting the unfolding of capitalist modernity. This course will further allow students to investigate the ways in which world literary texts register the unevenness and inequalities of the world system, and will prompt them to comparatively consider the ways in which such texts respond to conditions of social and environmental injustice that are inflected and complicated by factors including race, gender and class.

The ability to read literary and theoretical writing independently and with precision and confidence that students have gained from their prior study of English Literature will be essential for the successful completion of this course. In addition to set literary texts, the course will begin with two introductory weeks of theory-based discussion which will allow students to develop confidence with new critical terminologies, methodologies, and concepts that will be integral to the successful completion of the course. On the basis of independent preparatory reading, seminars will be used to discuss the literary, philosophical, social, cultural, environmental and political implications of world ocean literatures. In addition to individual reading, students will be required to meet in advance of seminars in ¿autonomous learning groups¿ (ALGs) to produce material that will be presented to class in a variety of formats (including: written reports, verbal presentations, poster presentations and other activities). Active preparation for and participation in class discussion is required, and will be assessed as part of the student¿s overall performance.

The structure of the course is broadly comparative in nature and asks students to explore the similarities and differences evident in a range of cultural forms spanning the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The course will enable students to reach an informed understanding of the relationship between postcolonial, ecocritical, and oceanic approaches to literature and will provide students with the theoretical and methodological skills that will enable them to critically engage with this rich field of study, and to develop the analytical skills and knowledge that will be assessed in their essays. The course is assessed by two essays, one to be completed by Week 9 of the course and one to be written during the exam period, and an assessment of students' participation in class and their autonomous learning groups. Written feedback will be provided on each element of assessment, and further oral follow-up feedback from the tutor will be available for anyone who would like it.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct original and clear arguments that demonstrate an understanding of literary depictions of ecological and social crises in postcolonial and critical ocean studies contexts.
  2. Analyse world ocean literatures using critical theoretical methodologies such as ecocriticism, postcolonial studies and world literature to substantiate and illustrate those arguments.
  3. Extrapolate, evaluate and assess ideas from a range of critical sources in order to bring them to bear on their analyses of world ocean literature.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to apply skills of close reading and of comparative analysis that reflects a critical understanding of similarities and differences across and between texts, genres and spaces.
  5. Orally present the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, respond judiciously to such research undertaken by others, and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the chief themes of the course.
Learning Resources
Core texts:
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. The Autumn of the Patriarch. London: Penguin, 2008.
Ghosh, Amitav. Sea of Poppies. London: Penguin, 2015.
Hogan, Linda. People of the Whale. New York: Norton, 2008.
Okorafor, Nnedi. Lagoon. London: Hodder & Soughton Ltd, 2014.
Winton, Tim. Shallows. London: Penguin, 2012.

Core Extracts provided:
Brathwaite, Kamau. Arrivants: New World Trilogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.
Dunham, Rebecca. Cold Pastoral. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2017.
Gautreaux, Tim. 'Gone to Water', The Guardian: Oil Stories, 20 April 2011 «»
Jetnil-Kinjiner, Kathy. Iep Jaltok. Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 2017.
Kavenna, Joanna. 'Barthelme', The Guardian: Oil Stories, 19 April 2011 «»
Mieville, China. 'Covehithe', The Guardian: Oil Stories, 22 April 2011 «»
Philips, M. NourbeSe. Zong!. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2008.
Santos Perez, Craig. Unincorporated Territory [Saina]. California: Omnidawn, 2010.
Senior, Olive. Shell. London Ontario: Insomniac Press, 2007.
Skinner, Jonathan. 'Two Poems', Wave Composition, 10.1 (September 7 2015) «»
Walcott, Derek. Collected Poems. London: Faber, 1992.
Wong, Rita. Undercurrent. British Colombia: Harbour Press, 2015.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 10 characteristics:

Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of a range of literatures and theoretical concepts and to relate their concerns and modes of expression to their cultural, political, social and critical contexts.
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material and to situate these arguments in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history.
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessed essays and class presentations, students will have practised identifying, defining, conceptualising and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline.
Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists.
Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
KeywordsWorld Literature,Blue Humanities,Ecocriticism,Postcolonial Studies
Course organiserDr Alexandra Campbell
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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