English 501-03: "Is English We Speaking"

ENGL 501-03
"Is English We Speaking": Language as Cultural Experience in Caribbean and African Literature (3 Credits)

Instructor: Erin James
June 16-July 11, Monday - Thursday, 10:30a.m.-1:20p.m.


Erin James
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In this course, we’ll examine a range of Caribbean and African poems, songs, novels, and non-fiction essays to question the ways in which language can encode specific cultural meanings. In doing so, we’ll explore what postcolonial writers such as Chinua Achebe,Bob Marley, Sam Selvon, and Ngugi was Thiong’o, among others, have to say about the way Standard English has been used as a tool of oppression within colonial societies and their strategies to overcome that oppression via their use of non-Standard Englishes.

This course is designed to address skills outlined in the Common Core Standards. While primarily focused on analyzing a particular point of view or cultural experience as reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, readings and activities in this class will also seek to determine the figurative and connotative meanings of words and phrases as they are used in texts (especially those rendered in non-Standard English), analyze the ways in which non-Standard English is often accompanied by innovative textual structures (organization of time, narration, etc), and query how postcolonial authors “write back” to canonical British texts by drawing on and reshaping source material. While postcolonial theory and literatures form an important foundation to this course, no experience with either is required.