The last few years have seen momentum build towards decolonising Literary Studies. Activist and student-led protest movements such as #RhodesMustFall, Black Lives Matter, and Why Is My Curriculum White? have brought the issue of decolonising to the forefront of the academic agenda and accelerated already ongoing work. The shift towards ‘decolonised learning’ has also since been identified by the Open University as the third most important innovation in educational practice that will shape university teaching over the next ten years (Ferguson et al. 2019).
This one-day event emerges from our AHRC-funded project South African Modernism 1880-2020, which explores the relationships between South African literature, modernism, the postcolonial and the global. This project is positioned to progress debates around the biases in literary studies - including race, gender, class and nation - and support the development of decolonised curricula in literary studies as it brings attention to the relationships between literary form, networks, empire, capital, and aesthetics.
Decolonising Teaching Panel
Professor Ursula Hurley, Dr Kai Syng Tan and Dr Emma Barnes ask: how can a decolonising approach be adopted in practice, in classrooms and in research?
Dr Kai Syng Tan
Manchester Metropolitan University
Kai is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader at the Manchester School of Art, and is involved in several anti-racism projects. Kai is the EDI Lead in the Department of Art and Performance; Advisory Board Member at the Research Centre for the Study of Race and Racism; Lead of the Race Equality Activities Planning Group and University Disability Forum.
Professor Ursula Hurley
University of Salford
Ursula is a Professor in Creative Writing and is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the School of Arts and Media. Ursula is currently involved in a project entitled 'Decolonising the PhD'.
Dr Emma Barnes
University of Salford
Emma is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century and World Literatures and a Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded project 'South African Modernism 1880-2020'. Emma is also a member of the Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies at the University of Kent, and is part of the Victorian Diversities Network.
Decolonising Research Panel
Dr Rick de Villiers
University of the Free State, South Africa
Rick de Villiers teaches English literature at the University of the Free State, South Africa. His first book, Eliot and Beckett's Low Modernism: Humility and Humiliation (2021) is published by Edinburgh University Press.
Dr Shazia Jagot
University of York, UK
Shazia Jagot’s research brings together her training in both English literature and Near and Middle Eastern Studies in order to explore the connections, both entangled and diffuse, between Western literary culture and the Islamic world during the medieval period. Shazia’s current book project, Distilling Chaucer: Arabic Learning and the Islamic World in Fourteenth-Century England (working title) aims to provide the first composite study of Chaucer’s Arabic ‘sources’.
Dr Tasnim Qutait
Uppsala University, Sweden
Tasnim Qutait's research interests are primarily in postcolonial and transnational literature and the politics of identity and displacement. Her PhD dissertation focused on memory and nostalgia in contemporary Anglo Arab literature.
Dr Rick Monture
McMaster University, (Turtle Island/Canada)
Rick Monture is a member of the Mohawk nation, Turtle clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Rick’s areas of academic interest include Haudenosaunee history, First Nation, Métis and Inuit literatures, popular culture, and the epistemology of Indigenous language and culture. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Chiefswood National Historic Site at Six Nations, and is a Board member with the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office. He is also a member of the Steering Committee and an Associate Professor with the Indigenous Knowledge Centre located at Six Nations.
Module Design Workshop
In this workshop, we invited attendees to collaboratively design English Literature modules from a decolonial perspective. Notes and images from the module designs produced in the workshop are presented here, with grateful thanks to our contributors (click on the images to enlarge).
Decolonising Literary Studies,
an incomplete reading list
Books and Reports
Alexander, Claire, and Jason Arday , eds., Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy (Runnymede Trust: February 2015)
Alvares, Claude, and Faruqi Shad Saleem, Decolonising the University: The Emerging Quest for Non-Eurocentric Paradigms (Penerbit USM, 2011)
Beyer, Charlotte, ed. Decolonising the Literature Curriculum. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022).
Bhambra, Gurminder K., Decolonising the University (Pluto Press, 2018)
Booysen, Susan, Fees Must Fall: Student Revolt, Decolonisation and Governance in South Africa (Wits University Press, 2016)
Chauhan, Vipin, ‘All in! Regularising Ethnic Presence in the Curriculum’, https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/all-in/documents/project-outcomes-all-in-project.pdf (July 2020)
Cooper, Afua, et al, Report on Lord Dalhousie’s History on Slavery and Race (2019):
Corson, David, Changing Education for Diversity (Open University Press, 1998)
Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (New York: New York University Press, 2001)
Harris, Ashleigh. “African Literature as Indigenous History in South Africa’s ‘decolonise the curriculum’ Movement”. In The Routledge Companion to Global Indigenous Studies, ed. Ann McGrath and Lynette Russell. (Routledge, 2021).
Helgesson, Stefan. Decolonisations of Literature: Critical Practice in Africa and Brazil after 1945. Liverpool University Press, 2022. https://liverpoolup.cloudpublish.co.uk/read/?id=56194&type=book&cref=Anonymous+-+Open+Access&peref=&drm=soft&exit=https%3A%2F%2Fliverpooluniversitypress.co.uk%2Fbooks%2Fisbn%2F9781802070095&p=6&uid=LUP&t=1667322918&h=9ac8226573b73fd712920b3faed53068 (free open access)
Innes, Robert Alexander. ““Wait a Second. Who Are You Anyways?" The Insider/Outsider Debate and American Indian Studies." American Indian Quarterly 33, no. 4 (2009): 440-461.
Kingston-Reese, Alexandra and Shazia Jagot, ‘Knowing Outside of English: Decolonizing at York’, English: Journal of the English Association, 70.270 (Autumn 2021): 218–226.
Mika, Carl, Indigenous Education and the Metaphysics of Presence: A Worlded Philosophy (Routledge, 2017)
Sammel, Alison, Susan Whatman and Levon Blue, eds., Indigenizing Education: Discussions and Case Studies from Australia and Canada (Springer, 2020)
Sciame-Gisecke, Susan, et al., ‘Infusing Diversity into the Curriculum: What are faculty members actually doing?’, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 2.3 (2009), 156-65.
Thiongo , Ngugi wa, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (Nairobi: East African Educational, 1981)
Thiong’o, Ngugi wa. “On the Abolition of the English Department”. Homecoming: Essays. (Heinemann, 1972).
Thomas, P. L., Christian Z. Goering and Michelle Jewett, ‘Speaking Truth to Power: Whitesplaining the Canon’, The English Journal, 6 (2017), 93 96.
Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang, ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, in Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1.1 (2012), 1-40
Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as methodology. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.
Tuhiwai Smith, Linda. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021.
Weir, Allison. "Decolonizing feminist freedom: Indigenous relationalities." Decolonizing feminism: Transnational feminism and globalization (2017): 257-287.
University Resources and Toolkits
Decolonising DMU: https://decolonisingdmu.our.dmu.ac.uk/
Keele Manifesto for Decolonising the Curriculum: https://www.keele.ac.uk/equalitydiversity/equalityframeworksandactivities/equalityawardsandreports/equalityawards/raceequalitycharter/keeledecolonisingthecurriculumnetwork/#keele-manifesto-for-decolonising-the-curriculum
Other Relevant Articles
Gopal, Priyamvanda, ‘Yes, We Must Decolonise: Our Teaching Has to Go Beyond Elite White Men’, The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/27/decolonise-elite-white-men-decolonising-cambridge-university-english-curriculum-literature (27 October 2017)
Meredith, Robbie, ‘Trinity College Dublin to look at its slavery and colonial links’
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-56103730 (18 February 2021)
Mgqwashu, Emmanuel, ‘Universities Can’t Decolonise the Curriculum without Defining it First’ https://theconversation.com/universities-cant-decolonise-the-curriculum-without-defining-it-first-63948 (22 August 2016)
Mohdin, Aamna, Richard Adams and Ben Quinn, ‘Oxford college backs removal of Cecil Rhodes statue’,
Morgan, Winston, ‘Why is my Professor Still Not Black?’, Times Higher Education https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/why-my-professor-still-not-black (14 March 2016)
Morreira, Shannon and Kathy Luckett, ‘Questions Academics Can Ask to Decolonise Their Classrooms’, The Conversation https://theconversation.com/questions-academics-can-ask-to-decolonise-their-classrooms-103251 (17 October 2018)
Saint, Lily and Bhakti Shringarpure, eds., “African Literature is a Country” article series https://africasacountry.com/series/african-literature-is-a-country
Savage, Michael ‘Bristol University to confront its links with the slave trade’:
Zuroski, Eugenia, ‘Where Do You Know From?: An Exercise in Placing Ourselves Together in the Classroom’ https://maifeminism.com/where-do-you-know-from-an-exercise-in-placing-ourselves-together-in-the-classroom/ (27 January 2020)
UCL: Why is my curriculum white? http://www.dtmh.ucl.ac.uk/videos/curriculum-white/
Worldwrite: Decolonising Education https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSxLd-Y9raE
Melz Owusu TedXTalk ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeKHOTDwZxU
Dorinda Carter Andrews, ‘The Consciousness Gap in Education’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOrgf3wTUbo