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

Postgraduate Course: Education and Empire: Decolonising the Mind (ENLI11268)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all 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 Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
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 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 course essay of 4,000 words (100%)
Feedback 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
Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857) and Rudyard Kipling's Stalky and Co. (1899)

R.K. Narayan's Swami and Friends (1935)

Chike Momah, The Shining Ones: The Umuahia Schooldays of Obinna Okoye (2003)

Austin Clarke's Growing up Stupid Under the Union Jack (1980)

Tsitsi Dangaremgba's The Book of Not (2006)

Scholastique Mukasonga, Our Lady of the Nile (2021)

Musa Okwonga, One of Them: An Eton College Memoir (2021)

Ngugi wa Thiongo, On the Abolition of the English Department in Ashcroft Bill et. Al (eds.) The Postcolonial Reader (1972), and The Education of the Colonial Bondsman (2014) in Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing.
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.
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
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