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Study information

World Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Module titleWorld Literature and Postcolonial Studies
Module codeEASM184
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Jane Poyner (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module engages with key and emerging aesthetic, critical and theoretical debates in world literature and postcolonial literary studies. From anti-colonial resistance struggles, to decolonisation and the question of political agency in peripheral societies, and   to recent and timely  iterations of environmental justice, globalisation and writer activism, this module will place debates on world literature and postcolonial studies alongside an exciting range of literatures from the so-called postcolonial world, including  Africa, Britain, the Caribbean and South Asia.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to trace the developing political, social, economic and cultural histories of world literature postcolonial literary studies and intellectual practice. You will have the opportunity to extend your knowledge of the fields of world literature and postcolonial studies in dialogue with a rich and exciting selection of world and postcolonial literatures primarily from the Global South. The module considers the role of writers and intellectuals in relation to ongoing and emerging debates. The module aims to expose and challenge paradigms of colonialism, highlight the forging and subsequent critique of the newly independent, ‘postcolonial’ state, processes and practices of decolonising, literary commitment and writer activism, representations of peripheral communities,  , environmental justice and the environmentalism of the poor, and contestations of ‘globalisation’. The module aims to establish important links between key and emerging debates within these fields and literary form. The module will provide methodological training in working across disciplines, in a critical engagement with world literature and postcolonial studies and works of literature, and in using bibliographic and electronic resources.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Gain an advanced knowledge and awareness of the contexts (cultural, political, intellectual, historical, social, economic and aesthetic) that have informed world literature and postcolonial literary studies as well as the complex debates surrounding the politicisation of writing and intellectual practice as they have emerged in twentieth- and twenty-first century world and postcolonial literatures.
  • 2. Develop an advanced understanding in the diverse fields of world literature and postcolonial theory and be able to apply this to a range of literatures, primarily from the Global South.
  • 3. Be able to analyse and critique at an advanced level the varied genres produced within the disparate fields of world literature and postcolonial studies, and to recognise the significance of these in terms of the ethics and politics of writing.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Be able to devise, research and execute a sustained independent research project.
  • 5. Be able to identify the links between the contexts of works of literature and the mode in which these texts are presented.
  • 6. Develop advanced skills in critical and theoretical thinking that apply beyond the subject, particularly to the fields of critical theory and intellectual history.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Develop public speaking and communication skills through seminar discussion.
  • 8. Develop advanced skills in academic writing as well as personal organisation and time-management through written assessment and assignments.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The module is structured around key theoretical debates and concerns in world literature and postcolonial studies.
  • The syllabus plan consists of three thematic blocks: Decolonising, Peripheries, and New Debates. It covers anti-colonial writings, key theoretical paradigms such as Orientalism, decolonising and subalternity, the world system, globalisation, environmental justice; and world literature and postcolonial studies in practice. This will be complemented by discussions of literary texts drawn from Africa, South Asia, Britain and the Caribbean, which will act as case studies for these theoretical paradigms.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 22Seminars
Guided Independent Study110Seminar Preparation
Guided Independent Study168Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan1000 words1-6, 8Tutorial follow-up
Seminar ParticipationOngoing throughout the term7Tutorial follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Literature Review252500 words1-6, 8Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Essay755000 words1-6, 8Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Literature ReviewLiterature Review1-6, 8Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-6, 8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


  • Bhanu Kapil, Ban en Banlieu
  • Earl Lovelace, Salt
  • Zakes Mda, The Whale Caller
  • Note that the above primary reading list is an indicative list only, and that the list for the current year will be available on ELE.

Critical Conceptual works:

  • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
  • Neil Lazarus, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies
  • Benita Parry, Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique
  • Edward Said, Orientalism
  • Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism
  • Warwick Research Collective, Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World Literature
  • Rob Nixon, Slow Violence: The Environmentalism of the Poor
  • Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Colonialism, neo-colonialism, globalisation, world and postcolonial literatures, postcolonial and world literary theory, environmental justice, peripheral societies and subalternity

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date