Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Education and Empire: Decolonising the Mind (ENLI10420)

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
SummaryIn this course, we will study literary texts dramatizing educational experiences in the context of Empire. We will examine these texts from a historical, aesthetic, and political point of view, gaining a critical understanding of the generative contexts that have shaped the public school as an imperial training ground, the permutations of this educational model in the age of Empire and beyond, the colonial university and its relationship with universities in the metropole, the imbrications of educational institutions with political-cum-literary constitutions of subjectivity, and the ways in which imperial education was constantly reconfigured in response to the cultural disaffection (of both colonizer and colonized) and anti-colonial nationalism, enabling individual and collective acts of personal and curricular decolonisation that anticipate present-day decolonising movements.
Course description In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, public schools were intricately linked with the building and preservation of the British Empire. Not only did these institutions socialize their students into the mores and values of the gentlemanly classes, but they upheld a distinctive model of imperial masculinity. As well as attitudes of loyalty and deference, public school boys acquired the confidence and initiative of the ruling elite. When, as educators, they transplanted the public school to the outposts of Empire, they sought to 'create a universal Tom Brown', to use the words of historian J.A. Mangan: a leader of his people and a powerful advocate of British values. The idea was to create an intellectually empowered, yet politically quiescent colonial replica of the 'English Gentleman'.

Rather than simply a site of imperial brainwashing, the public school was an institution riddled with ambivalence: simultaneously an imposition and an aspiration, it could be coercive and suasive in its technologies of instruction, as well as a cultural and political battlefield germane to radical re-imaginations of the self. The absorption of the ethos of Englishness, embodied in the colonial library, English gentleman ideal and the cult of games, had significant psychic effects on colonial schoolboy subjects.

In this course, we will examine the construction of colonial educational institutions and their effects on a range of novels, essays, memoirs and school stories from all over the British Empire. What is the nature of the cultural locations and conflicting political ideas that writers navigate during their formative years, how did they transcend these polarities in adulthood and how are these processes of negotiation and (re)configuration reflected in the plot and formal strategies of the works we will study?

Other themes of the course include generic variations, the connection between genres, the relations between individual and collective experience, the linkages between race, class and gender-inflected subjectivities in narrative, theoretical debates on 'fact' and 'fiction' in autobiographical writing, as well as topical and politically-fraught questions relating to student-led decolonising movements and imperial reckoning. We will draw on insights from mimetic theory, postcolonial criticism and gender studies.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) AND Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) plus 1 hour Autonomous Learning Group per week, at time to be arranged.
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word coursework essay (30%) submitted mid-semester;
plus 3000 word final essay submitted during exam period (70%)
Feedback The students will receive detailed written feedback on essays. All students will be able to ask for a face-to-face consultation in order to clarify and build on any of the feedback, should the student feel this would benefit them. Emphasis will be on what the student has done well, and how to build on that. Verbal feedback will be given for all ALG work and for in-class discussions.

Postgraduate students will be required to submit an essay plan before the submission of the essay component of the assessment, for which they will be provided with written feedback. They will have the chance to discuss said feedback and their planned action points in a one-on-one meeting with the course leader.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Formulate original, clear and nuanced arguments about the ways in which the texts studied engage with imperialism and its legacies.
  2. Analyse literary texts using recognised methods of literary criticism to substantiate and illustrate those arguments.
  3. Present the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group; respond critically to such research undertaken by others; and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the key themes of the course.
  4. Show an incisive understanding of education in the context of Empire and understand the ways in which colonial subjects navigate its politically-fraught space.
  5. Engage rigorously, confidently, and sensitively with politically-charged contemporary debates on hybridization, decolonisation, and imperial reckoning.
Reading List

Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857)
Rudyard Kipling, Stalky and Co. (1899)
R.K. Narayan's Swami and Friends (1935)
Austin Clarke, Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack (1980)
Chike Momah, The Shining Ones: The Umuahia Schooldays of Obinna Okoye (2003)
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir (2012)
Tsitsi Dangaremgba The Book of Not (2006)
Scholastique Mukasonga, Our Lady of the Nile (2021)


Achebe, Chinua (1993) 'The Education of a British-Protected Child,' Cambridge Review 114, pp. 51-57.

Ashcroft Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin (1989) The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge.

Bhabha, Homi (2004) The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 2004.

Bristow, Joseph (1991) Empire Boys: Adventures in a Man's World. London: Harper Collins.

Chigudu, Simukai (2021) 'Colonialism Had Never Ended: My Life in the Shadow of Cecil Rhodes,' The Guardian 14 January 2021

Couser, Thomas J. (2012) Memoir: An Introduction. New York: OUP.

Fanon, Frantz (1986) Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press.

Gikandi, Simon (1997) Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism. New York: Columbia UP

Holt, Jenny (2008) Public School Literature, Civic Education and the Politics of Male Adolescence. London: Routledge.

Mangan, J.A. (1985) The Games Ethic and Imperialism: Aspects of the Diffusion of an Ideal. London: Viking.

Ochiagha, Terri (2015) Achebe and Friends at Umuahia: The Making of a Literary Elite. Oxford: James Currey.

Pesold, Ulrike (2017) The Other in School Stories: A Phenomenon in British Children's Literature. Leiden: Brill.

Quigly, Isabel (1982) The Heirs of Tom Brown: The English School Story. London: Chatto and Windus.

Radstone, Susannah and Bill Schwartz, eds. (2010) Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. New York: Fordham UP.

Richards, Jeffrey, ed. (1989) Imperialism and Juvenile Literature. Manchester: UP.

Jonathan Rutherford, (1997) Forever England: Reflections on Masculinity and Empire. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Saunders, Max. (2013) Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature.

Oxford: UP.

Wagner, Gillian (1982) Children of the Empire. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their detailed knowledge of the fields of the novel as a literary form, and of life-writing and postcolonial literature more generally.' The students taking this course will be able to demonstrate their understanding of how a range of the principal concepts of literary analysis may be applied to the course material.''

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these concepts in their construction of arguments about the course material.

Generic Cognitive Skills: through group work and completing assessed essays, students will have practiced identifying, designing, 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.'
Additional Class Delivery Information one 2-hour Seminar per week;
one 1-hour Autonomous Learning Group per week (at time to be arranged)
KeywordsEnglish Literature,African Literature,Postcolonial Literature,World Literature,Caribbean
Course organiserDr Terri Ochiagha Plaza
Tel: (0131 6)50 6875
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information