Politics of Affect: Postcolonial and Feminist Literature and Film

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In Edward Said’s introduction to his groundbreaking book, Orientalism, he gives several explanations for the purpose of his work. One of the more personal articulations of his motive is stated as follows: “In many ways, my study of Orientalism has been an attempt to inventory the traces upon me, the Oriental subject, of the culture whose domination has been so powerful a factor in the life of all Orientals.” Despite the strong personal language of this particular statement, Said makes clear that the “mere being” or “brute reality” of lives lived in the so-called Orient would have to remain necessarily beyond the scope of his study. More than 40 years later, we will explore literature and film that have emerged in between and beyond the original framework given to us by Said. From Near East to Far East, contemporary responses to the histories of Orientalism and the emergence of postcolonial-feminist literary and cinematic movements may require that we expand our methods beyond critique toward the (re)invention of new—and very old—ways of encountering and engaging “mere being.” The question of individual motivation (of students) will necessarily be addressed by this course; this fact should be considered carefully by prospective students.  This course is limited to students who have already done coursework on some aspect of colonial/postcolonial or feminist histories (relating to various possible historical periods, geographic locations, or academic disciplines) but does not require previous study of literature or film in this specific context.