Dr. Shobna Nijhawan Office hours:
Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics Tu 2.30-3.30
Office: Ross S570 Th 1.30-2.30 and
Email: email@example.com by appointment
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 88725
AP/HND 3710 3.0 (Winter 2012)
Contemporary Literatures of the South Asian Diaspora
Thursdays 2.30-5.30 (ACE 004)
This course investigates the phenomenon of South Asian diaspora in historical, postcolonial, and global contexts. Through an analysis of literary expressions of South Asian writers living in Canada, the US, the Caribbean and Europe, it discusses concepts and theories of diaspora studies. The combination of narrative and interdisciplinary scholarly writing familiarizes students with the social features of diaspora and the cultural expressions of the diasporic condition. All readings are in English.
Course structure and requirements
The class meets once a week for three hours. The course involves interactive lecturing, presentations, group work and discussion through close reading of the course materials.
Attendance and Participation: Students are expected to be in class regularly and on time. I recommend that you inform me about absences and late arrivals/early departures. The atmosphere that I intend to create in my classes is such that it encourages ALL students (also the quiet ones) to participate in the discussions and during the interactive lectures. Students are also able to contribute to their participation grade through the course management system outside of class. They may raise questions we discussed in class and initiate some discussion on this site. The additional writing assignments listed in selected weeks are to be posted on the course management website. They also count towards your participation grade.
Readings and Journal Entries: It is absolutely necessary that all students engage with the weekly reading assignments in order to participate in the class discussions. The reading load is reasonable and I expect every student to explore each text by means of close reading and write-ups before and after class. The journal counts 20% towards your final grade. Even though you are only asked to submit 4 journal entries, I recommend that you exercise critical writing as a preparation for the class discussion every week since write-ups of your thoughts before and after class are conducive to your overall academic development. They will furthermore prove helpful when you prepare for tests.
The length of each journal is 1 page (double spaced). This page is divided into a summary of the readings (1/2 page) and a critical response thereto (1/2 page). You may also submit your journals handwritten. The summary should contain information about the author, genre and topics discussed in the text you read. For the critical response you may include the following questions: what challenged you? What reinforced/changed your assumptions? What did you learn? You may point to a particularly interesting passage of the text and quote it. Every response should end with one question, which you also bring up in class.
You are welcome to resubmit two journal entries within two weeks of the date they were returned if you would like to improve your grade. In order to do so you need to add a paragraph explaining what made you revise or add thoughts. Please also attach the initial journal entry that you are revising. At all times you can come see me in person or set up a telephone or "skype" appointment to receive additional feedback on your entry. Remember that the purpose of these journal entries is to enhance your critical engagement with texts.
Ideally, after class you should revisit the readings as well as your reading notes. This exercise will assist you in improving your critical thinking and writing skills. You can incorporate new thoughts as they emerged from the lecture and discussion or clarify questions that you had prior to the class. This exercise need not be turned in, even though you are very welcome to do so. It will be an extremely valuable exercise and preparation for the tests.
Journal entries are due on the day that the readings you write about are discussed in class. You may also turn them in one week later. If you decide to do so, you have to briefly incorporate and reflect on the class discussion/lecture. The entry may then be 1 ½ pages long.
Presentation: For their presentation, students are asked to select one writer or filmmaker whose work we are reading and introduce her/him to the class by preparing a biography.
Midterm and Tests: There is one in-class midterm (two hours) and two tests (one of them a take-home test). You will be asked to respond to questions pertaining to the readings and lectures. You may use the lecture slides and your class notes in all tests.
Final paper: For the final paper (5 pages) you will be asked to analyze a short story of your choice in light of the theoretical approaches learned in class. The final paper is due on April 5, 2012 at noon. It can be submitted as a hard copy (Ross S 570) or sent as an attachment to the course management website. Unexcused late submissions will not be accepted.
The final grade will be calculated as follows
Attendance and Participation 15%
2 tests (15% each) 30%
4 Journal entries (5% each) 20%
Final paper 15%
All required texts are also held on reserve in Scott Library
The most up-to-date information, announcements, lecture notes, handouts and a discussion forum is accessible on the course management website: https://moodle11.yorku.ca/moodle/. You are expected to check this site twice a week for updates on the course.
Additional important course information for students is accessible via: http://www.yorku.ca/secretariat/senate/committees/ccas/documents/Course%20Outline%20-%20Student%20%20Info%20Sheet%20-%20March%2027-06.pdf
The course has specifically been developed as the core course of the Diaspora Studies Consortium (http://www.ufv.ca/diasporastudies.htm). It fulfills the South Asian Studies degree requirements.
Week One: January 5 Introduction: Diaspora, Literature and South Asia
Reading for next week:
Mistry, Rohinton. (2000): . “Lend Me Your Light.” Tales from Firozsha Baag. Toronto: McClelland & Steward Limited. Pgs. 179-202.
Mistry, Rohinton. (2000): . “Swimming Lessons.” Tales from Firozsha Baag. Toronto: McClelland & Steward Limited. Pgs. 236-262.
Trinh T. Minh-ha “Traveling Tales”, “A Stranger in a Strange Country”, “Wanderers Across Language”, “Their Country Is My Country”
Optional: Heble, Ajay. (1993). “‘A Foreign Presence in the Stall’: Towards a Poetics of Cultural Hybridity in Rohinton Mistry’s Migration Stories.” Canadian Literature, 137: 51-61.
Week Two: January 12 Arrival I: “East, West and the Comma am I”
Presentation: Rohinton Mistry
Readings for next week:
Monica Ali, “Dinner with Dr. Azad” (in Story-Wallah)
Chitra Divakumari Banerjee “Mrs. Datta writes a letter” (in The Unknown Errors of Our Lives)
Trinh T. Minh-ha “Sleepless Silence”, “The Tea and The Tear”, “The Debt of Love”, “Man of Tea”
Hua, Ana. (2005). “Diaspora and Cultural Memory.” Diaspora, Memory and Identity: A Search for Home. Ed. Vijay Agnew. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Pp. 191-208.
Optional: Vijay Agnew “Introduction” in Diaspora, Memory, and Identity. A Search for Home
Additional (compulsary) assignment for next week (to be posted on moodle): Select one important passage each from Hua’s and Trinh’s article, quote and comment on them. Then select two passages quoted by someone else and comment on them.
Week Three: January 19 Arrival II: “Far Away, From Home”
(Trinh T. Minh-ha)
Presentation: Monica Ali, Chitra Divakumari Bannerjee
Guest lecture: Creative Writing in Academic Settings (4.15-5.15 p.m.)
Readings for next week:
Jhumpa Lahiri “This Blessed House” (in Story-Wallah)
Ginu Kamani “Just Between Indians” (in Story-Wallah)
Vertovec, Steve. (1997). “Three Meanings of ‘Diaspora,’ Exemplified among South Asian Religions.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 6 (3): 277-299.
Hall, Stuart. (2003). “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” Theorizing Diaspora. Ed. Jana E. Braziel & Anita Mannur. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pp. 233-246.
Optional: Braziel, Jana Evans & Anita Mannur. (2003). “Nation, Migration, Globalization: Points of Contention in Diaspora Studies.” Theorizing Diaspora. Ed. Jana E. Braziel & Anita Mannur. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pp. 1-22.
SPECIAL EVENT on JANUARY 24 at noon (till 2 p.m.) in Bethune College 202: Performance and discussion with Nisha Ahuja, artist and performer (nishaahuja.com). You may write a journal entry about this event (summary of the event and critical response thereto)
Week Four: January 26 Arrival III: Meanings of Diaspora in Literature
Presentation: Jhumpa Lahiri, Ginu Kamani
Readings for next week: In preparation for the test, please read the following:
Week Five: February 2 Test 1 (you will require a computer and access to
The test questions will be announced at 2.30 on moodle. Your responses need to be submitted on moodle by 5.30. Throughout the test period, I will be available to answer questions over moodle-chat.
Readings for next week:
Lal, Brij V. (1996). The Odyssey of Indenture: Fragmentation and Reconstitution in the Indian Diaspora in Diaspora 5(2)
Sam Selvon, “Cane is bitter” (in Story-Wallah)
Raymond Pillai “The Celebration” (in Story-Wallah)
Shani Moottoo “Out on Main Street” (in Story-Wallah)
Week Six: February 9 Early Migration and Indenture
Ali Kazimi, Continuous Journey (57 min, SMIL), http://undesirables.ca/
Presentations: Sam Selvon, Raymond Pillai, Shani Mootto, Ali Kazimi
Readings for next week:
Shyam Selvadurai “Pigs can’t fly” (in Story-Wallah)
Pratibha Parmar: Nina's Heavenly Delight (on youtube)
Gayatri Gopinath "Nostalgia, Desire, Diaspora: South Asian Sexualities in Motion" in Theorizing Diaspora pp. 261-279
Beginn reading Farzana Doctor, Stealing Nasreen (up to chapter 6, pp. 1-63)
Week Seven: February 16 Queer Diaspora I
Presentations: Shyam Selvadurai, Pratibha Parmar, Farzana Doctor, Vivek Shreya
Readings for March 1:
Finish reading Stealing Nasreen
Optional: Appadurai, Arjun. (2003). “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” Theorizing Diaspora. Ed. Jana E. Braziel & Anita Mannur. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pp. 25-48.
Rummens, Joanna Anneke. (2003). “Conceptualising Identity and Diversity: Overlaps, Intersections and Processes.” Canadian Ethnic Studies, 35.3: 10-25.
Mannur, Anita. (2003). “Postscript: Cyberspaces and the Interfacing of Diasporas.” Theorizing Diaspora. Ed. Jana E. Braziel & Anita Mannur. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pp. 283-290.
Week Eight: February 23 Reading Week
Week Nine: March 1 Queer Diaspora II (class meets in York Lanes 280N)
EVENT with Farzana Doctor and Vivek Shreya
No new readings: Prepare for the midterm
Week Ten: March 8 Midterm Examination
Readings for next week:
Salman Rushdie “The Courter” (in Story-Wallah)
Shyam Selvadurai “Introducing Myself in the Diaspora” (in Story-Wallah)
Trinh T. Minh-ha “Far Away, From Home: The Comma Between”
Week Eleven: March 15 Travels in Film I: Hyphenated Identities
Musafar – Sikhi Traveling (Movie)
Presentation: Salman Rushdie
Readings for next week:
Purnima Mankekar: “Brides who travel: gender, transnationalism, and nationalism in Hindi Film” Positions 7:3 1999
Avtar Brah 1996. “Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities” Chapter 8 (ebook)
Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan 2003. “Ethnicity in an Age of Diaspora.” Theorizing Diaspora. Ed. Jana E. Braziel & Anita Mannur, pp. 119-131.
"Neoliberalism and Media-friendly religiosity in Bollywood movies" (in Tracing an Indian Diaspora)
Watch selections from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaenge (available in SMIL)
Week Twelve: March 22 Travels in Film II: Diaspora and Home
No new readings. Prepare for the test by reviewing your notes and drafting a wrap-up of the class
Week Thirteen: March 29 Test 2, Discussion of Final Papers and Wrap-up
The final paper is due on April 5, 2012, at noon. It can be submitted as a hard copy (Ross S 561) or sent as an attachment to the course management website. Unexcused late submissions will not be accepted.