online syllabus:


electronic reserve:


listserv website:


listserv address:


~ schedule ~



Literature 422:
Studies in the Novel in a Global Perspective


fall 2003


Dr. Abby Coykendall

Office Phone: (734) 487-0147

Office Location: Pray-Harrold Hall 603G
Office Hours: Monday 8:00–11:00; 12:00-1:00; 2:00-3:00

~ or by appointment ~


Section # 14763
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00 - 11:50 AM
Pray-Harrold Hall 319




“The novel could only concentrate on personal relations once … human beings, and not collectivities [or] transcendental actors … were allotted the supreme role in the earthly stage.  The novel … is the epic of a world forsaken by God.”

— Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel

“How strange it is to need another’s help to learn that this naked baby in the yellowed photograph, sprawled happily on the rug or cot, is you. … Out of this estrangement comes a conception of personhood, identity (yes, you and that naked baby are identical) which, because it can not be ‘remembered,’ must be narrated. … As it is with modern persons, so it is with nations. … Nations, however, have no clearly identifiable births, and their deaths, if they ever happen, are never natural.”  

— Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities

“History represents human nature as it is in real life, alas, too often a melancholy retrospect!  Romance [shows] the pleasing features, and throws a veil over the blemishes. … I confess that [the novel] may be abused, … so may poetry, so may plays, so may every kind of composition; but that will prove nothing more than the old saying … ‘every earthly thing has two handles.’”

— Clara Reeve, Old English Baron

Literature 422: Studies in the Novel in a Global Perspective

More than anything else, the novel is a means of transport: it can be a vehicle for identification with others, differentiation from others, or even a way to escape the demands of human interaction altogether.  As such the novel is a prime example of what Mary Louis Pratt terms a “contact zone,” offering not only an ideal forum in which to stage encounters across cultures, but also, at its best, an ideal means to facilitate what are truly global perspectives, or points of view free of insularity, cognizant of diversity, and receptive to the manifold ways of being and thinking throughout the world.  In fact, the novel can be such an effectual means of identification that, at least temporarily, the mind of the reader, the mind of the narrator, and the minds of the assorted characters can blend together, thereby encouraging us to surmount otherwise intractable barriers of nationality, sexuality, ethnicity, or economic status, no matter how deeply entrenched those barriers may be in actuality. 


Taken together, the epigraphs above allude to one of the central tensions that we will investigate throughout this course; namely, that of the novel as an inducement both to further knowledge of and to absolute fantasy about ourselves and others.  It is for this reason that Watt believes the novel places readers in a position akin to the divine, possessing “the supreme role in the earthly stage,” although a malleable and fallible divinity to be sure.  Indeed, as Anderson suggests, the novel, and narrative more generally, is a tool for overcoming the inadequacies of our overly individualized and localized perspectives.  By fashioning a coherent but approximate sense of identity, whether it be on the small scale (personhood) or on the large scale (nationhood/globalization), the novel knits together unfamiliar places and times with what we experience as the here and now.  It is precisely because the expanse of this unexperienced arena is so vast — not only including foreign territories or previous eras, but also the forgotten moments of our own childhood or the unexplored regions, unknown peoples, and neglected histories of our native country — that novels must step in to fill the gap.  However, as Reeve cautions, notwithstanding her passionate defense, this potent imaginative medium might also work just as effectively the other way around: seducing us with delusions of clairvoyance and omniscience, wholly unblemished, enormously pleasurable, yet profoundly blind. 


Thus, on the one hand, the novel has historically been one of the chief means used to produce a vision of humanity based on the single, monolithic standard of Europe, exoticizing and exorcising the “savage” deviation (a.k.a. “deviancy”) of other cultures in the process.  And yet, on the other hand (and perhaps even because of this nefarious history), the novel has become one of the most important means used to demystify this process of mistaken identification, exposing the political investments in what we believe to be, and do in fact experience as, private fantasy.  In order to take both of these aspects of the novel into account, we will begin with a classic colonial narrative, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella “The Beach of Falesá,” and thereafter focus on the contemporary postcolonial novel, a thriving literary movement to say the least.  By the end of the class, we will have traveled by narrative proxy through a variety of countries — the Caribbean, Africa, Palestine, India, New Zealand, and Ireland — learning of and hopefully identifying with cultures dissimilar from our own, while all the while asking ourselves how the politics of literary representation impacts the content, form, and reception of the genre of the novel as a whole.


Texts and Materials

The following books are available at Ned’s bookstore (; 483-6400; 707 W. Cross St.), although additional copies may be available at other EMU bookstores.  Please ensure to get the same editions pictured and listed below, for otherwise the differing page numbers will make it difficult for you to follow along with class discussions:


v       Michelle Cliff (Caribbean), No Telephone to Heaven.  Penguin, 1996 (ISBN #0452275695)

v       Nadine Gordimer  (South Africa), Burger’s Daughter.  Penguin, 1980 (ISBN #0140055932)

v       Arundhati Roy (India), God of Small Things.  Harper Perennial, 1998 (ISBN #0060977493)

v       Sahar Khalifeh  (Palestine), Wild Thorns.  Interlink, 2003 (ISBN #1566563364)

v       Seamus Deane (Ireland), Reading in the Dark.  Vintage, 1998 (ISBN #0375700234)

Many required readings, if not distributed in class, will be available online at the Halle Library’s Electronic Reserve website:  These include portions of the other works that we will cover in class — Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Beach of Falesá” (Scotland/South Seas), Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (Africa), Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (India), and Janet Frame’s Edge of the Alphabet (New Zealand) — as well as biographies and literary criticism.


Research materials and extra copies of the required readings will be available on reserve at the Halle circulation desk.  These include all five of the major novels, along with complete versions of Achebe and Rushdie, as well as a number of novels that you may want to investigate for your research essay: Red Azalea (Min/China), Wide Sargasso Sea (Rhys/Caribbean), Night (Wiesel/Transylvania), and Satanic Verses (Rushdie/India).  In addition, there are several films on reserve, some of which you may want to discuss in your research essay: Lawrence of Arabia, The Piano (Campion/New Zealand), The Vertical Ray of the Sun (Anh Hung Tran/Viet Nam), Life and Debt, Edward Said on Orientalism, Red Capitalism (China), and Fourth Dimension (Trinh Minh-Ha/Vietnam).  On reserve as well are four excellent reference works — the Post-Colonial Studies Reader, Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Institutions of the Novel, and Cultures of Globalization — as well as an assortment of critical studies, including Tropicopolitans (Aravamudan), The Dialogic Imagination (Bakhtin), Culture and Imperialism (Said), and Atlas of the European Novel (Moretti), along with many other books that will be useful for your research essays.


Make sure to print out the Electronic Reserve and NetLibrary materials so that you have a copy to refer to during class discussions.  If you experience difficulty printing out the Electronic Reserve materials (e.g. they print in a mirror image), simply uncheck the options in the print menu, especially the “Fit to Page” option selected by default.  If that does not work, you can always check out (and photocopy) hard copies, which will be available at the Halle circulation desk if they comprise more than ten pages or require downloading over 1000 KB. 


Course Itinerary


Section One: Contact Zones: The Caribbean and South Pacific

Main Assignment:

Responses & Discussion 

Selections from and videos of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (Ireland) and Edward Said’s Orientalism (Egypt), Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Beach of Falesá” (Scotland/South Seas), and Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven (Jamaica)

Section Two: Diasporas: Africa and the Black Atlantic

Main Assignment:

Take-Home Exam 1

Selections from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (Africa), Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter, Part I (South Africa), the film Life and Debt, based on Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place (Antigua), and Frantz Fanon’s “The Fact of Blackness” (Algeria)

Section Three: Former Colonies: India and New Zealand

Main Assignment:

8-10 pg. research presentation and essay

Selections from Janet Frame’s Edge of the Alphabet (New Zealand), Jane Campion’s film The Piano (New Zealand), Selections from Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (India), and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (India)

Section Four: Occupied Territories: Palestine and Northern Ireland

Main Assignment:

Take-Home Exam 2

 The “Post”-Colonial Novel in Conclusion: Sahar Khalifeh’s Wild Thorns (Palestine/Israel), Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark (Ireland)



Nothing is more vital for success in this course than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the daily reading assignments and class discussions.  There will be a large number of writing assignments: informal responses, polished essays, and essay exams.  The responses will be posted to the class listserv after each major reading assignment, or they may be handwritten if you prefer privacy or have difficulty accessing the internet.  Your responses should be at least two paragraphs in length, although longer (or more engaged) responses will not only enhance your grade, but also increase the ability of other students and myself to offer feedback.  The responses can be on subjects of your own choice, but must relate to the readings assigned for that day.  In contrast to the responses, the essays will offer a thorough examination of the readings, incorporate at least some literary criticism, and have the proper academic format.  The primary difference between a response and an essay is that with the responses, the mechanical elements of writing do not matter in the least, and the goal is to freely and openly express ideas; whereas, with the essays, the mechanical elements of writing must be attended to very thoroughly and the goal is to defend a focused argument clearly, coherently, and persuasively.  There will be two take-home exams, at the middle and at the end of the semester.  They will have two sections — critical responses and essay questions — comprehending the literary, filmic, and critical materials that we have covered in class. 


Make sure to bring a copy of the material that we are discussing to class.  Also, make sure to keep up with the readings in order to have plenty of preparation for the essays and exams.  There may be periodic, unannounced quizzes to ensure that you are keeping up with the reading.  As with any university course, homework will take around two hours for every hour of class, and thus you can expect each week to spend six hours outside of class completing the various assignments and readings. 


Research Presentations and Essays

There will be informal, in-class, 10-minute presentations of the research that you have done for your final essay scheduled every Friday (or thereabouts) throughout the semester after the first few weeks of class; there will also be presentations during our final class, the time scheduled for the final exam.  I will pick the order of the presentations randomly, which is most fair to all concerned.  You need not have your paper written to do the presentations; you will simply provide background on your novel, describe the country from which it derives, identify a tentative thesis, and offer a synopsis of the historical context and critical debates relating to each.  Indeed, it may well be best not to have written the paper in advance, for I generally find that students only figure out the true purpose of their argument and inspiration for their essay after presenting their position to others. 


You must turn in a research proposal at least two weeks in advance of your presentation so that there will be time to consult with me beforehand about your research.  Although your essay may not be on any of the five major novels that we will cover in class (Cliff, Gordimer, Roy, Khalifeh, or Deane), it may be on the novels from which we will only read portions: Achebe, Rushdie, or Frame.  I will hand out a list of recommended novels, from which you will pick at least one to write on and present to the class.  In the end, the goal is to have our discussion open up to other authors or other countries that we do not have time to cover in depth in class.  Since many of the issues raised in this class pertain just as well — if not better — to cinema, I highly recommend researching a film together with a novel should you have any interest in film.  However, if you do so, the novel must be at the forefront of your investigation.






Responses, Participation,

and Research Presentation




Take-Home Examination 1

November 5, 2003



Take-Home Examination 2

December 15, 2003



Research Essay (8-10 Pages)

December 21, 2003


Any late essay or exam will drop a third of a grade for each day late; that is, an A paper will turn into A- if turned in one day late, an A paper will turn into B+ if turned in two days late, and so on.  Responses are worth up to 15 points; late responses are marked down only minimally, but must be turned in within a week of the initial due date.  The best way to make up a response is by comparing the reading that you missed to that which the class is currently considering.  This will help both you and the other students make connections and comparisons that span the course as a whole.  The participation grade, largely based on responses, quizzes, and the research presentation, is a considerable portion of your final grade — 20% — so keep up with the reading and response assignments and make your voice heard in class.  Your total response points will be averaged, put on a fair grading curve, and then bumped up or down slightly depending on how actively you engage in class discussions.  The second take-home exam is not cumulative, nor will it cover as much material as the first exam, in order to free up more time and energy for the research essays.


Academic Dishonesty

Any plagiarized writing or cheating on the exams will automatically result in a failing, zero-percent grade for the assignment.  Thus, if you cheat on the first exam or plagiarize on the research essay, you can expect, at most, to receive a C- (or 70%) for your final grade, supposing that you did everything else perfectly.  With the internet, plagiarism is quite easy and tempting to do; however, the internet also makes plagiarism that much more easy for professors to catch and document, so do not even think about doing it in this class or elsewhere.  Note: Turning in a paper that you wrote for another class as the final paper, i.e. recycling the same words for double credit, also constitutes academic dishonesty at EMU. 


Plagiarism is a very serious offense against the Code of Student Conduct.  The general rule is that if you use three or more words of another writer in a row without enclosing those words in quotation marks and citing your source, you are guilty of plagiarism.  According to Funk and Wagnalls’ New Standard Dictionary (1921), plagiarism is the “act of plagiarizing or appropriating the ideas, writings, or inventions of another without due acknowledgment; specifically, the stealing of passages either for word or in substance, from the writings of another and publishing them as one’s own.”  In short, plagiarism is theft.   



Because this class primarily consists of reading and discussion — rather than facts, figures, or memorization — attendance is crucial.  You may be absent four times without penalty.  Each absence after that will result in a reduction of your final grade by one-third the letter grade: that is, the fifth class missed will turn a final grade of an A into an A-; the sixth, into a B+; and so on.  The four absences are for emergencies, so if you ditch the class four times, do not expect a reprieve from the rule if you become ill or have other extenuating circumstances towards the end of the semester.  If there is a documented emergency (a death in the family, lost limb, prison term, &c.), I will go out of my way to help in any way I can, including giving an incomplete, supposing that you have otherwise kept up with the assignments, attended class regularly, and finished a majority of the course.  Aside from the grade reduction, missing classes will hinder your ability to do the assignments properly and promptly.  Likewise, even though there will be no penalty for lateness, it can have several undesirable consequences: you may miss critical information (such as the extension of a deadline) often covered in the first ten minutes of class and, of course, you will likely distract other students and myself while entering the room.  If you are late, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent.  If you are absent from class, contact another student who can fill you in on missed work before contacting me.  Above all, make sure to withdraw from the course by November 11, 2003 if you find that you cannot attend class regularly or fall too far behind in the reading. 



Section One: Contact Zones: The Caribbean and South Pacific

Wednesday, September 3: Introduction; Watch Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities / Homework: Get books; Review the syllabus and write down any questions that you have; Read Anderson, Imagined Communities (5-7, 22-26, 33-36, 204-6) and Mary Louise Pratt, “Arts of the Contact Zone” (8 pgs.), both in the Electronic Reserves (ER) at (18c); Read entries from the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies,  “Globalization” (ER 209-16) and “Nationalism” (ER 312-15).

Friday, September 5: Discuss Anderson, Imagined Communities, Terminology, and Pratt / Homework: Email to be added onto the class listerv; Read the biography of Robert Louis Stevenson in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Read Stevenson, “Beach of Falesá,” Chapters I-IV (ER, roughly 45 pgs.); Read entries from the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, “Alterity” (ER 16-18), “Miscegenation” (ER 298-300), “Multiculturalism” (ER 305-6), and “Worlding” (ER 455).

Monday, September 8: Discuss Terminology, Stevenson / Homework: Read Lynch and Warner, Introduction to Cultural Institutions of the Novel (ER 1-5) and M. M. Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel” (ER, 4 pgs); Finish Stevenson, “Beach of Falesá,” re-reading earlier portions of the novella in light of its ending; Apply Bakhtin, Anderson, Pratt, or Lynch and Warner to Stevenson, writing down at least one quotation from the critics and at least one related quotation from Stevenson.

Wednesday, September 10: Discuss Stevenson, Novel Criticism; Group Work / Homework: Read Edward Said, “Imaginative Geography and Its Representations,” Orientalism (ER, 4 pgs.); Read entries from the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, “Anglophone Literature” (ER 23-7) and “Cliff, Michelle” (ER 101-2); Read the biography of Michelle Cliff in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Begin reading No Telephone to Heaven (1-20)

Friday, September 12: Discuss Said, Watch Edward Said on Orientalism / Homework: Continue reading Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (20-70); Write Response on Stevenson and Said, sending it in plain text to the listserv email address at; For confirmation or to see responses, visit the listerv archives at; If you have any difficulty, either email your response to me or turn in a hard copy on Monday

Monday, September 15: Discuss Said, Responses, and Michelle Cliff / Homework: Read Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (70-100); Read Peter Hulme, “Columbus and the Cannibals” (ER 365-69).

Wednesday, September 17: Discuss Cliff, Hulme, Watch Life and Debt  / Homework: Read Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (100-130); Read Edward Kamau Brathwaite, “Creolization in Jamaica” (ER 203-5)

Friday, September 19: Discuss Cliff, Brathwaite, Finish Life and Debt / Homework: Read Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven (130-180); Read Jamaica Kincaid, “A Small Place” (ER 92-4)

Monday, September 22: Discuss Cliff, Kincaid, Life and Debt / Homework: Finish Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven; Write a response on Cliff that incorporates at least one of the secondary materials and post it to the listserv (

Wednesday, September 24: Discuss the Caribbean and South Pacific in Conclusion / Homework: Read the biography of Chinua Achebe in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Read Achebe, Things Fall Apart (ER 129-167)

Section Two: Diasporas: Africa and the Black Atlantic

Friday, September 26: Discuss Achebe  / Homework:  Read Achebe, “Colonialist Criticism” (ER 57-61); Read the biography of Nadine Gordimer in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Begin reading Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter (1-37)

Monday, September 29: Discuss Gordimer, Achebe / Homework:  Read Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter (37-75); Read Frantz Fanon, “The Fact of Blackness” (ER 323-26)

Wednesday, October 1: Discuss Gordimer, Fanon  / Homework:  Read Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter (75-110); Read Kwame Anthony Appiah, “The Postcolonial and the Postmodern” (ER 119-24)

Friday, October 3: Discuss Gordimer, Appiah  / Homework:  Read Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter (110-170); Read the entry from the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, “Bhabha, Homi” (ER 60-65); Read Homi Bhabha, “Signs Taken for Wonders” (ER 29-35)

Monday, October 6: Discuss Gordimer, Bhabha  / Homework:  Finish Part One of Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter

Wednesday, October 8: Discuss Gordimer / Homework:  Write a response on Gordimer that incorporates at least one of the secondary materials and post it to the listserv (

Friday, October 10:  Discuss Gordimer; Do Presentations (30 mins.) / Homework:  Read the biography of Arundhati Roy in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Begin reading Roy, God of Small Things (1-75)

Section Three: Former Colonies: India and New Zealand

Monday, October 13:  Discuss Gordimer responses, Roy / Homework:  Read Roy, God of Small Things (75-117)

Wednesday, October 15: Discuss Roy / Homework:  Read Roy, God of Small Things (117-166)

Friday, October 17:  Discuss Roy; Do Presentations (40 mins.) / Homework:  Read Roy, God of Small Things (166-235)

Monday, October 20: Discuss Roy / Homework:  Read Roy, God of Small Things (235-74)

Wednesday, October 22:  Discuss Roy / Homework:  Finish Roy, God of Small Things

Friday, October 24: Discuss Roy; Do Presentations (30 mins.) / Homework:  Review materials and guidelines for midterm exam; Read “Guidelines on Essay Formatting and Organization,” particularly for organizational tips; Write down any questions that you have.

Monday, October 27: Discuss Essay Guidelines, & Take-Home Examination 1, Due Wednesday, November 5 / Homework:  Do Take-Home Exam.

Wednesday, October 29- Monday, November 3:  Watch and Discuss Jane Campion’s The Piano, Wednesday 7-10 PM at the Halle Library, Room 300 / Homework:  If you cannot make it to the screening, watch The Piano on reserve in the library; Finish Take-Home Exam.

Wednesday, November 5:  Do Presentations (50 mins.) / Homework (fOR MON., NOV. 10): Read Ian Baucom, “Among the Ruins” (ER 164-89, 240-242); Read the biography of Salman Rushdie in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Read Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (ER 3-53)

Friday, November 7: Do Presentations (50 mins.) / Homework:  Continue reading Baucom and Rushdie; Write a response on Roy and Rushdie and post it to the listserv (

Monday, November 10:  Discuss Roy, Rushdie, Baucom / Homework:  Read Charles Larson, “Heroic Ethnocentricism” (ER 62-5); Read the biography of Janet Frame in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Read Frame, Edge of the Alphabet (ER 99-113) 

Wednesday, November 12:  Discuss Larson, Frame  / Homework:  Read the biography of Sahar Khalifeh in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Read Khalifeh, Wild Thorns (1-36); Background reading on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (ER TBA)

Section Four: Occupied Territories: Palestine and Northern Ireland

Friday, November 14:  Discuss Khalifeh, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict; Do Presentations (30 mins.) / Homework:  Read Khalifeh, Wild Thorns (36-86)

Monday, November 17:  Discuss Khalifeh, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict / Homework:  Read Khalifeh, Wild Thorns (86-121)

Wednesday, November 19:  Discuss Khalifeh / Homework:  Read Khalifeh, Wild Thorns (121-178)

Friday, November 21:  Discuss Khalifeh; Do Presentations (40 mins.)  / Homework:  Finish Khalifeh; Write a response on Khalifeh that incorporates at least one of the secondary materials and post it to the listserv (

Monday, November 24:  Discuss Khalifeh, Responses; Do Group Work / Homework (For mon., dec. 1):  Read David Punter, “Arundhati Roy and the House of History” (ER 192-207); Read the biography of Seamus Deane in the “Author Biography” folder of the ER; Read Deane, Reading in the Dark (3-119)

Wednesday, November 26 - Friday, November 28: Thanksgiving Recess

Monday, December 1:  Case Study in Criticism: Punter’s take on Roy applied to Deane / Homework:  Read Deane, Reading in the Dark (119-153)

Wednesday, December 3:  Discuss Deane / Homework:  Read Deane, Reading in the Dark (153-201)

Friday, December 5:  Discuss Deane; Do Presentations (40 mins.) / Homework:  Finish Deane, Reading in the Dark

Monday, December 8:  Discuss Deane / Homework:  Review Readings and Guidelines for Take-Home Examination 2, Due Monday, December 15; Write down questions.

Wednesday, December 10:  Discuss Deane; Review Exam / Homework:  Do Take-Home Examination 2.

Monday, December 15, 11:00 — 12:30 PM: Research Presentations (90 mins.)  Take-Home Examination 2 Due. Note: missing this class will count as two absences.

Sunday, December 21, 12:00 PM:  Research Essay Due.  Drop it in my mailbox in the English Dept., 612 Pray Harrold (the office will be closed, but you can approach the mailboxes from the back hallway) or slide it under my office door, 603G Pray Harrold.  Anything handed in after 12 PM sharp will not be given any credit.  Also leave a self-addressed, stamped manila envelope if you want commentary on your essay.