English 138

Studies in World Literature in English: Partitioned States/Partitioned Selves

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2014 Saha, Poulomi
Saha, Poulomi
note new time: TTh 2-3:30 note new location: 179 Dwinelle

Book List

Buttalia, Urvashi: The Other Side of Silence; Cao, Lan: Monkey Bridge; Kanafani, Ghassan : Men in the Sun; Lee, Chang-rae: The Surrendered; Ninh, Bao: The Sorrow of War; Rushdie, Salman: Midnight's Children; Said, Edward: The Question of Palestine; Shelach, Oz: Picnic Grounds; Shin, Kyung-Sook: Please Look After Mom


Territorial division has long been used as a means of political reorganization, especially in the face of ethnic or ideological conflict. This course examines the relationship between territorial splitting, or partition, and empire in the twentieth century. We will take a comparativist approach to two historical moments in which four major partitions took place: the 1947 partitions of India and Palestine, and the 1954 partitions of Korea and Vietnam. Taking seriously the historical contexts of decolonization and Cold War conflicts, this course considers literary and cinematic reflections on these geopolitical ruptures. After the lines have been drawn, making two states where there was once one, how do people imagine these new nations? How do they imagine themselves in relationship to what exists on the other side of that new border? Does partition make possible new kinds of nation-states and new kinds of national feeling? What is the relationship between the splitting of territory and psychic trauma?

We will examine novels, short stories, memoirs, and films alongside theories of psychoanalysis to consider the affective afterlives of partition, on nations and on individuals. 

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