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Literature and Colonialism: Joseph Conrad & Tayeb Salih

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research - Brooklyn

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$315
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Location:
Brooklyn
68 Jay St
Btwn Water & Front Streets
Brooklyn, New York 11201
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Description
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this literature class:

Famously excoriated by Chinua Achebe as an “offensive and deplorable” dehumanization of the lives of Africans, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness may be one of the most intensively scrutinized and adapted works of modern European literature. Achebe’s critique has since been contested, not least as a deliberate misreading of Conrad’s own perhaps ambivalent understanding of the industrialized barbarism of Belgian colonialism in the Congo. Almost a decade before Achebe’s 1975 lecture decrying Conrad’s racism, the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih responded to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with a novel of his own—Season of Migration to the North. 

Salih’s novel both echoes and subverts Conrad’s narrative, transposing Marlow’s obscene fascination with Kurtz, both agents of colonial power, into the obscene fascination that one exemplary member of the colonized elite has with another of his own class, recapitulating the perverse dynamics in Conrad’s story from the point of view of the colonized. How can we understand the two novels not only in literary conversation but as documents of long-lasting struggles in colonial politics and experience?

In this course, we will take Conrad and Salih’s novels as a case study for examining, on the one hand, the complex dynamics of literary intertextuality; and, on the other, the complex entanglements, which outlive formal colonialism itself, between colonizer and colonized. How is Salih’s book an example of what Edward Said called contrapuntal reading,” and how does such a reading help us recognize the colonial dynamics that structure the Western novel? What does Salih’s retelling of Conrad suggest about the effects of imperial domination on matters of desire, knowledge, power, and about the limits of certain forms of resistance? Does this sort of retelling effectively critique, recuperate, or recapitulate the harms of imperial domination? What degree of separateness does postcolonial literature have or hope to have from the Western canon? To help us answer these questions, we will read, alongside Heart of Darkness and Season of Migration to the North, works of criticism and commentary by Said, Achebe, Ian Watt, Muhsin al-Musawi, and Ikram Masmoudi, among others.


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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (27)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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