EN 4262 Writing Global India: (Dis)Posessions of Capitalism
On this module, students will read Indian Anglophone literary texts in the context of global capitalism and transnational movements and flows. It examines the construction of imaginary homelands, the cultural politics of that homeland and its (re)negotiation in the larger world, the politics of gender, sexuality and the body, and religious and other cultural identities. The trope of “(dis)possessions” provides theoretical leverage into and focus on material influences, the trope of the hauntings of cultural memory, the perceived “contaminations” of culture, disciplines of the body, and related themes.
Primary Texts to be covered:
Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
Amitav Ghosh, The Calcutta Chromosome
Gautam Malkani, Londonstani
Shani Mootoo, Valmiki’s Daughter
Hanif Kureishi, The Body
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Manju Kapur, The Immigrant
Seminar Notes: Click on the link to go to the seminar notes for each seminar
The following are really just suggestions: the module will take a broad and eclectic approach to this big topic, and students are encouraged to read widely and wherever their interests (on the issues raised in this module) takes them. It is hoped that the following will merely be starting points for individual reading journeys.
Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, Theory:
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari (19840, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Hall, Stuart (1991a) “The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity.” Culture, Globalization and the World-System, ed. Anthony D. King.
----- (1991b) “Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities.” Culture, Globalization and the World-System, ed. Anthony D. King.
Baudrillard, Jean (1981), For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign.
Dreze, Jean and Amartya Sen (2013) An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions
Friedman, Thomas L. (1999) The Lexus and the Olive Tree
Holston, James ed. (1999) Cities and Citizenship
Carol A. Breckenridge ed, (2002) Cosmopolitanism
India: Literature, History, Nationhood
Crane, Ralph J. (1992) Inventing India: A History of India in English-Language Fiction.
Khan, Nyla Ali (2005) The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism
Sharrad, Paul (2008) Postcolonial Literary History and Indian English Fiction
Fernandes, Edna (2007) Holy Warriors: A Journey into the Heart of Indian Fundamentalism.
Korte, Barbara (2010/2011) “Can the Indigent Speak? Poverty Studies, the Postcolonial and Global Appeal of Q & A and The White Tiger.” Connotations 20: 2-3, pp. 293-317. Online at: http://www.connotations.uni-tuebingen.de/korte02023.htm
Mendes, Ana Cristina (2010) “Exciting Tales of Exotic Dark India: Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 45: 2.
Partha Chatterjee, Nation and its Fragments, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993
Tanika Sarkar, Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion and Cultural Nationalism.
Claire Chambers, “Postcolonial Science Fiction: Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 38:1 (2003)
Suchitra Mathur, “Caught Between the Goddess and the Cyborg: Third-World Women and the Politics of Science in Three Works of Indian Science Fiction”, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 39:3 (2004).
Bhabha, Homi K. (1994) The Location of Culture
Primary Texts (Other notable novels, in a list of many possible ones, ideas for further reading, particularly for comparative readings for purposes of student projects)
Rushdie, Salman Midnight’s Children; Shame; The Moor’s Last Sigh
Narayan, R. K. The Painter of Signs; The Guide; Malgudi Days; The Vendor of Sweets
Desai, Anita Baumgartner’s Bombay; The Village by the Sea;
Desai, Kiran The Inheritance of Loss; Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard
Naipaul, V. S. A House for Mr Biswas; The Enigma of Arrival; A Bend in the River
Mukherjee, Barathi Wife; Desirable Daughters
Tejpal, Tarun The Story of My Assassins
Swarup, Vikas Q & A; Six Suspects
Chandra, Vikram Red Earth and Pouring Rain; Sacred Games
Indra Sinha Animal’s Children
Gadekar, Reeti Bottom of the Heap
Adiga, Aravind Between the Assassinations; Last Man in Tower
Ghosh, Amitav Shadow Lines; Circle of Reason; Glass Palace; Sea of Poppies; River of Smoke
Mistry, Rohinton A Fine Balance; Family Matters; Such a Long Journey
Vassanji, M. G. The Assassin’s Song; The In-Between World of Vikram Lall; Amriika
Verghese, Abraham Cutting for Stone
*Roberts, Gregory David Shantaram
*Irving, John A Son of the Circus
*McDonald, Ian River of Gods
Finally, some of my own work:
I stress that my work on Indian Anglophone literature is by no means the recommended (and certainly not the exclusive) way that Indian literature and culture will be read for the purposes of this module. Students will certainly gain no bonus points by citing my work. However, I have often been asked by students how I myself would read certain texts (whether on this module or another that I have taught), and in that spirit of offering my own reading as just one of many possible, and hopefully as merely a spur to the student’s own thinking process, I list the following:
Goh, Robbie B. H. (2011) “Narrating ‘Dark’ India in Londonstani and The White Tiger: Sustaining Identity in the Diaspora.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 46.
Goh, Robbie B. H. “The Overseas Indian and the Politics of the Body in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger and Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 47: 3 (2012).
Goh, Robbie B. H. “Engaging Future Asia: Techno-Orientalisms, Ethnography, Speculative Fiction.” Cre ative Industries Journal, 6: 1 (2013),
Goh, Robbie B. H. "The Postclone-nial in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Amitav Ghosh's The Cal cutta Chromosome: Science and the Body in the Asian Diaspora." ARIEL 41: 3-4 (2010)
Goh, Robbie B. H. "The Cultural Politics of Christianity in India: Representations and Negotiations of an ' Inclusive Other." South Asian Review 30: 1 (2009)
Goh, Robbie B. H. “Inner Circles and the Voice of the Shuttle: Native Forms and Narrative Structure in Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason.” History, Narrative, and Testimony in Amitav Ghosh’s Fict ion, ed. Chitra Sankaran. Albany: SUNY Press, 2012
Goh, Robbie B. H. "The Return of the Scientist: Essential Knowledge and Global Tribalism in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide and The Calcutta Chromosome," in Narrating Race: Asia, (Trans) Nationalism, Social Change, ed. Robbie B. H. Goh. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011.
Goh, Robbie B. H. “Cyberasian: Science, Hybridity, Modernity, and the Asian Body.” Contemporary Asian Modernities: Transnationality, Interculturality, and Hybridity, ed. Yiu-Wai Chu and Eva Kit- Wah Man. Bern: Peter Lang, 2010
4262 Suggested Pairings/Themes for Final Projects
In response to student requests/suggestions, I’m listing some possible pairings of novels, and thematic organisations, as possible final projects. Please note that these pairings and themes are NOT final projects as such – you would still have to come up with a proper research topic, approach, etc. What I’m offering is merely a starting point – fair enough, since I take the point that most students would not have read the novels outside the module reading list, and a nudge in the right direction would help you read more and come up with your own topic. But you must read the novels for yourself, and come up with your own more specific topic, and your own approach to it.
Social Injustice, oppression, inequality: a big topic in Indian literature, covered in many novels, including GST, WT, Tejpal’s Story of my Assassins, Swarup’s Q & A and Six Suspects, Sinha’s Animal’s Children, etc.
Sub-themes include caste/”new caste” (poverty) – WT, GST, A. Desai’s Village by the Sea, Gadekar’s Bottom of the Heap, Mistry’s A Fine Balance,
Gender: GST, CC, Immigrant, Mukherjee’s Wife and Desirable Daughters and Jasmine,
Crime/Corruption/Social Disorder: Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis, Adiga’s Last Man in Tower, Tejpal’s Story of my Assassins, Roberts’ Shantaram (for a non-Indian view of India’s underworld), Chandra’s Sacred Games, Swarup’s Q & A and Six Suspects
Religion: including communal violence, religious conflict, religious segregation, and post-partition religious-social estrangement: GST, Londonstani, WT, Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children; Narayan’s Painter of Signs; Chandra’s Sacred Games; Adiga’s Between the Assassinations (some of the stories therein); Ghosh’s Shadow Lines; Vassanji’s The Assassin’s Song; McDonald’s River of Gods (for a techno-future, non-Indian view)
Diasporic identity crisis, cultural loss, alienation: Immigrant, Londonstani, CC, Body, Valmiki’s Daughter, most of Hanif Kureishi’s other novels (Black Album, Buddha of Suburbia), Mukherjee’s Wife and Jasmine, Naipaul’s House for Mr Biswas and Enigma of Arrival, Ghosh’s Glass Palace and Circle of Reason, Vassanji’s In-Between World and Amriika
“Science” and Modernity (and problems therein): CC, Body, McDonald’s River of Gods (non-Indian writer), Londonstani (in the sense of economic “modernity,” capitalism), Ghosh’s Hungry Tide (environmentalism/science vs traditional way of life), Adiga’s Last Man in Tower (urban modernization), Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone (educational modernity/change)
Crisis of the Indian Family – generational gaps, stresses of social change, economic issues etc: Set in India - GST, WT, A. Desai’s Village by the Sea, K. Desai’s Hullabaloo and Inheritance of Loss, Adiga’s Last Man in Tower, Mistry’s Family Matters, Kapur’s The Divorce
Set in the diaspora: Valmiki’s Daughter, Immigrant, Londonstani, Kureishi’s Buddha of Suburbia, Naipaul’s House for Mr Biswas, Mukherjee’s Wife