English 203

Graduate Readings: World Systems Theory and the Asian Anglophone Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2017 Lye, Colleen
MW 9:30-11 B40 Hearst Field Annex Graduate Courses

Book List

Arrighi, Giovanni: The Long Twentieth Century; Boltanski, Luc and Chapiello, Eve: The New Spirit of Capitalism; Desai, Radhika: Geopolitical Economy; Duncan, Richard: The Dollar Crisis; Harvey, David: The New Imperialism; Moore, Jason: Capitalism in the Web of Life; Wallerstein, Immanuel: The Essential Wallerstein

Other Readings and Media

See below.


World literature theories that have borrowed from the work of Immanuel Wallerstein on early capitalism to conceptualize the dynamics of literary centers and peripheries have difficulty accounting for the Asian Anglophone novel, an ascendant form of late capitalism. Since the early 1970s, the prominent manufacturing role played by Asian economies within the capitalist world system has led scholars to argue either that the center of global hegemony has now shifted East or that the reliance on a floating dollar as the world’s currency has ensnared Asia in a new kind of financialized, structural dependency. This same period sees the rise of the Asian Anglophone novel as a medium through which Asian writers have experimented with diverse fictional modes of representing problems of sovereignty, identity and alternative modernity in a globalized economy. We’ll immerse ourselves in world systems theory debates about the nature of the “long downturn” since the early 70s (Arrighi, Harvey, Brenner, Wallerstein, Radhika Desai, Richard Duncan, etc.), and bring these to bear on the various positions held by world literature and anti-world literature theorists (Casanova, Moretti, Schwartz, Spivak, Jameson, the Warwick Collective, etc.). Further readings on the temporal implications of today’s credit economy, debates between proponents of immaterial labor versus those of Value Form Marxism, the reemergence of social reproduction feminism, theories of race and surplus populations, and the question of “anthropocene or capitalocene?” will be assigned as needed, depending on the interests of the group and the course’s eventual literary foci. The course’s literary component will consist of one work chosen from among 3-4 major novelists each (Amitav Ghosh, Han Ong, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ha Jin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amit Chaudhuri, Chang Rae Lee, Xu Xi, Ninotchka Rosca are likely contenders for the final 3-4). Besides graduate students who may be specifically interested in the field of Asian Anglophone literature, this course would be useful to those interested in histories and theories of transnational capitalism since the 1970s and in historical materialist approaches to race, gender, empire and ecology. If you are a literature student who wants to get a grip on political economy and how to think about economic mediations of culture, this is a good course for you. 

This course satisfies the Group 5 (Twentieth Century) or Group 6 (Non-historical) requirement (for English Department graduate students). It also fulfills a CORE requirement in the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory (240).

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
203/1 Graduate Readings: William Faulkner and the Historical Novel Goble, Mark
203/2 Graduate Readings Miller, Jennifer
203/3 Graduate Readings: The Queer and the Oriental Leong, Andrew Way
203/4 Graduate Readings: Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
203/5 Graduate Readings: Nineteenth-Century U. S. Historical Poetics Otter, Samuel
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
203/1 Graduate Readings: Allegorical Moments: Public, Private, and the Writing of Everyday Life Hejinian, Lyn
203/4 Graduate Readings: American Genres Serpell, C. Namwali
203/5 Graduate Readings: Prospectus Workshop Abel, Elizabeth
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
203/1 Graduate Readings: Radical Enlightenment? Goldstein, Amanda Jo
203/2 Graduate Readings: The Novel in Theory Hale, Dorothy J.
203/3 Graduate Readings: Prospectus and Grant Workshop Thornbury, Emily V.
203/4 Graduate Readings: Digital Humanities for Medieval Studies Nolan, Maura
203/5 Graduate Readings: Contemporary Chicanx/Latinx Novels Gonzalez, Marcial
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
203/1 Graduate Readings: Caribbean Literature and Culture Ellis, Nadia
203/2 Graduate Readings: Comparative Colonialisms: Latin America and the U.S. Saldaña, Maria
203/3 Graduate Readings: Materiality Flynn, Catherine
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
203/2 Graduate Readings: The Political Economy of Life and Death in African American Literature and Culture JanMohamed, Abdul R.

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