English R1B

Reading & Composition: Postcolonial China

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
19 Spring 2012 Lee, Amy
MWF 9-10 129 Barrows

Book List

Eng, Tan Twan: The Gift of Rain; Ghosh, Amitav: River of Smoke; Li, Yiyun: The Vagrants;

Recommended: Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers

Other Readings and Media

  • Course Reader
  • Films:
    • Wong Kar Wai, Chungking Express
    • Hou Hsiao Hsien, The Puppetmaster


Postcolonialism, as a discourse that analyzes and critiques the legacy of colonialism, has largely been developed to describe the experiences of former Western colonies in the Caribbean, India, and Africa.  This course examines the value and applicability of postcolonial critique to the Chinese context as a way to account for China’s semicolonial past, encounter with Western and Japanese imperialism, and uneven and vexed relationships with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and the Global South.  We will query how the case of China adds to and complicates what we know about postcolonialism.  We will consider postcolonial cultural productions from Greater China, including Anglophone and translated works from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora.  Topics we will explore may include the intersections between colonialism, migration, and global capitalism, ethnic and national consciousness, historiography and the postcolonial archive, racial formation and triangulation, language policies, and the poetics and politics of translation. 

In addition to developing our critical thinking and close-reading skills through in-class discussions and exercises, we will spend a significant amount of time honing our research and writing skills. Students will learn how to effectively gather research materials and incorporate secondary sources in their writing to strengthen their argumentative positions.  Assignments include short writing exercises, two research papers (including drafts), and class presentations.

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