LIT274 : The Postcolonial Bildungsroman

Convener(s): Dr Veronica Barnsley


General Information

This module considers the bildungsroman as a global form that, having emerged in tandem with Western imperialism, remains a vital means of constructing the self and (re)imagining social and political relations in postcolonial literatures. We will focus on the representation of growth, development and community in novels from South Asia, Nigeria, South Africa and the Caribbean, paying attention to features that are, arguably, anti-developmental, including primitivism, animality, violence, illness and disability. We will investigate how `postcolonial' or `global' novels stretch, resist or overhaul, an inherited form and ask how contemporary concerns with race, gender and religious conflict play out for protagonists in whose lives the local and the global meet.


There will be one lecture and one seminar per week. The lectures will be used to present students with a range of historical and theoretical means for thinking about the bildungsroman as a postcolonial form and to demonstrate the stylistic analysis of novels from a range of locations.
There will be one seminar a week. In each class one or two students will give their presentation on a chosen text or topic. Students will be required to prepare for class by doing one or more of the following: (i) read a specific article and be prepared to discuss it (ii) analyse a passage of text in the way that was demonstrated in the lecture (iii) find their own example of the kind of material that was discussed in the lecture, or (iv) research a particular topic. In the seminar students will then have the opportunity to discuss this work, express their own ideas, and ask any questions they may have.
During private study time, students will prepare for seminars and work on the essays, presentations and posters.


This module will be assessed by class presentations (15%), a research poster (25%) and a 2,500 word essay (60%).

For the class presentations students will agree a topic with the seminar tutor in week 1 and will research it and present their findings in a 10 minute presentation followed by a short question and answer session. Students will be encouraged to present research questions or compelling lines of enquiry rather than a finished argument; the topic will then be developed in the research poster.

Contact Details

0114 222 0237

Information last changed: Tuesday 21st of March 2017 :: 08:54:58 AM (GMT)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK