HUM 310

Imperialism and Culture: The British Experience

An exploration of the break-up of the British colonial empire of the 18th and 19th century as reflected in literature and history. Emphasis is placed upon the idea of imperialism, the role of culture in imperial expansion, the conception of national character, and the process of decolonization. The readings trace the theory of empire in the metropole and its practice in the colony in both literary and historical works. The course is organized around the interaction of two disciplines: history and literature, emphasizing the ways in which two discourses treat the past. History not only provides an account of the past and therefore a context for literary works, but also incorporates aspects of literary language and method; conversely, literary texts that focus on the past attempt to capture a reality of historical experience. By reading selections from each discipline students are able to gauge how two distinct but related disciplines reflect upon the culture of a particular epoch. While the focus may change in future offerings (another version might choose to focus on Africa, for example), particular attention in this course will be given to the British experience in India.