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Postcolonial Representations




Admissions requirements

What is Culture?
Cultural and Visual Analysis
permission from the lecturer.


Questions of representation have pertained to the struggles for emancipation and agency in different parts of colonial and postcolonial world over the past two centuries. Even being interrogated in postcolonial critiques of Reason, representation remains a central, though in no way unambiguous, concept. Gayatri Spivak has perhaps most poignantly identified the politics involved in its double meaning: representing as ‘speaking for’ (others) and the potential violence of this act when re-presenting is taken as ‘portraying’. It is this nexus of political and aesthetic practices, as well as related ethical questions that will be at the core of our discussions.

The course will focus on a range of aesthetic forms and practices, including literary texts, visual art, theatre and film, that raise questions regarding the politics of representation. How can marginalised people and subjectivities be represented without distorting their own perspectives? What are the limits of self-representation? How do colonial regimes impede one’s agency, and what strategies of breaking these silences can art provide? How are aesthetic forms and genres implicated in colonial practices, and how do postcolonial representations appropriate and re-write them?

The readings and discussions will be organized along several key topics in postcolonial studies, including the practices of ‘writing back’ to the colonial centre, nationalism, cosmopolitanism and their limitations, questions of memory, ecocriticism, and imaginations of urban space and migration. Every week we will concentrate on one of these topics by close-reading a novel/short stories, films and performances as well as exploring approaches developed in postcolonial theory and applying them in the analysis of these works. In doing so, we will be engaging with the interfaces of textual and visual representations and the expressive possibilities of different forms. The examples will include some ‘classics’ such as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as well as pieces by less renowned and more ‘local’ authors.

Week 1: Postcolonial practices of re-writing
Week 2: Postcolonial nations and difference
Week 3: Postcolonial trauma and memory
Week 4: Postcolonial ecocriticism
Week 5: Postcolonial urban imaginations
Week 6: Postcolonial (trans)migrations and diaspora
Week 7: Peer-reviewing and wrap-up

Course objectives

Students will

  • develop skills of analyzing literary, visual and performative representations;

  • practice to apply the concepts and tools of postcolonial theory in analyzing these representations;

  • enhance their skills of critical reading, oral presentation and analytical writing.

Students will:

  • be able to demonstrate the ways in which postcolonial aesthetic practices impact social identities and discourses;

  • learn to reflect on the contribution of postcolonial theory to the study of social and cultural practices in the globalising world;

  • acquire a good understanding of central concepts and categories of postcolonial theory and be able to implement them in their own analysis.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Classes will be a combination of short lectures and seminar discussions, with students examining the required texts and images by applying suggested theoretical approaches. A thorough engagement with the readings, a thoughtful manner of presenting and discussing one’s ideas in class, as well as respect for differences of opinion are crucial for the optimal unfolding of the course. For some of the sessions, students are expected to research for materials related to given topics and bring them into class discussion.

In addition to an oral presentation engaging with a theoretical text and explaining relevant concept(s), each student will write two short responses (webposts) - one to a (literary) text, the other to a film, artwork or performance. At the end of week 3 students submit short proposals for the final paper. At the end of week 5, a draft of the final paper is due, which will be peer-reviewed and discussed in small groups at the beginning of week 7.


  • In-class participation, 15% (ongoing)

  • Two web-posts and prepared discussion of web-posts by other participants, 20% (weeks 2-6)

  • Group presentation, 15% (weeks 2-6)

  • Essay proposal (300 words) and draft (1200 words), not graded but mandatory (late submissions not accepted), week 6

  • Peer review of the draft, 10% (week 7)

  • Final research essay (2500-3000 words), 40% (week 8)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. [NB: It is recommended that you read this novel before the beginning of the course as we’ll be discussing it already during the first week.]

  • Women Righting: Afro-Brazilian Women's Short Fiction, ed. by Miriam Alvares and Maria Helena Lima

  • Veronique Tadjo, The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda

  • Arundhati Roy, The Greater Common Good

  • Imraan Coovadia, The Institute of Taxi Poetry

  • Zadie Smith, The Embassy of Cambodia


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Ksenia Robbe