In class we have spent a good deal of time discussing representation as it relates to non-Western literatures that circulate as World Literature. Language, format, performance, and script all play an important role in shaping access to these other texts. Another topic is how these texts collide and interact with Western texts in which non-Western peoples are already portrayed. The topic is taken up by Achebe in the essay that you’ve read, and will be part of the political project of Things Fall Apart, which you will read over the next two weeks.
Intellectually, through this assignment you will:
- demonstrate engagement with and knowledge of issues of representation discussed in class
- apply your knowledge to an image you select
- critically analyze and evaluate the messages about the non-West represented in that image
- synthesize these with readings from the course, gaining a deeper understanding of why issues of representation are fraught and complex.
This assignment has two parts. First, you will find a Western image of the non-West, whether this be a person, a place, or a thing. This image is due in class on September 28. On that day some people will be asked to present their images to the class to generate discussion, so please type up, print out, and bring to class a document of no less than one page detailing why you selected the image, who is the expected “audience” for the image, and what you take this image to “mean.” You will turn this short essay in, and it will be 10% of the project grade. Is it a “typical” image? Why or why not? Does t forward established preconceptions about the non-West or challenge those assumptions? Do you find the image problematic in any way? Does the image have historical antecedents that would can identify?
Based on class discussions, you will then write a critical assessment of the image in which you will do a bit of original research. In addition to following paper submission guidelines outlined on the syllabus, this must be 2-4 pages in length, you must cite at least 2 critical sources done from your own original research in your paper. The first draft will be workshopped in class on Friday, October 1, with the final being due on Friday, October 9. For the October 1 workshop please make sure to bring 2 copies of the paper to class!