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ENGL 738C: Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Literature: Indigenous and Imperial Archives

The primary goal of this course is to interweave Indigenous and postcolonial methodologies to examine nineteenth-century literature and history.

In part a course on the British Empire and in particular its presence in Australia, we will also work to unsettle methodologies that approach Indigenous histories and cultures in colonialist ways. The course aims to take account of new energy in Victorian studies to confront the field’s own racist and colonialist histories. We will be reading from a range of recent scholarship, both in nineteenth-century British studies and Indigenous studies, to challenge ourselves to think beyond established methodologies.

Primary materials will include nineteenth-century English-language novels, essays, and poetry written from Australia, paired with more recent Indigenous literary works that revise or undo those earlier texts. Alongside Henry Lawson’s canonical Australian short story “The Drover’s Wife” (1892), for example, we will read Indigenous author Leah Purcell’s 2016 postcolonial, feminist play of the same title. Alongside early Australian colonialist poems, essays, and novels we will read Indigenous writer Kim Scott’s award-winning work of historical fiction, That Deadman Dance (2010). Theoretical and critical works will include Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples; Daniel Heath Justice, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter; and a range of postcolonial and Indigenous provocations.

We will take seriously the “archives” of the course title, making extensive use, both in class discussion and written work, of the considerable digital archives available for scholars of these nineteenth-century spaces. Specifically, we will explore Trove, the remarkable digital archive of nineteenth-century Australian periodicals established by the National Library of Australia. Layered among these records of British colonization, we will engage with Indigenous cultural accounts, including visual media and oral culture, to resituate ourselves and our thinking in relation to colonial power structures.

Students will be given the option to write an extensive research paper or to work collaboratively on a research paper. Assignments specific to navigating archives will be woven throughout the semester.


Dr. Jason Rudy
Tu 3:30pm - 6:00pm

Schedule of Classes
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