Global English: Postcolonial Language and Literature

Course Name

Global English: Postcolonial Language and Literature




Course date

semester 2 (2014 - 2015)

Registration open until

- 16/01/2015


Friday morning, 10.00-13.00h, VU Amsterdam, 2 February-27 March: Hoofdgebouw (main building) 10A13, 10 April-8 May: Hoofdgebouw 1G10


Dr. Laura Rupp (VU University, Amsterdam), dr. Anita Ragunath (VU University, Amsterdam), dr. Roselinde Supheert (Utrecht University), international guest lecturers

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Course objectives


  • You are able to describe the salient features of Postcolonial varieties of English, and the way in which these varieties have evolved.
  • You are able to describe linguistic theories of language variation and change, second language acquistion, language and identity.
  • You are able to describe core concepts and major works in postcolonial theory and postcolonial literature.
  • You are able to identify past en current issues in Postcolonial Englishes and the implications thereof for the fields of English linguistics and literature, and postcolonial societies.


  • You are able to apply this knowledge in analyses of concrete situations; for instance, in the design of English language policy or in critical reviews of postcolonial literature.
  • You are able to conduct independent research in the field of Postcolonial Language and Literature.


  • You are able to present a well-informed perspective of the nature of different Englishes and the impact of the spread of English on users of English around the world.


  • You are able to report about research according to the academic conventions.
  • Your have excellent spoken en written English language skills.
  • You are able to inform a diverse audience about the significance of issues in Postcolonial Linguistics and Literature.


  • You are able to perform successfully in a career in the field of English Linguistics and Literature, or to continue to do a PhD in this area.

Course content

This course integrates research on World Englishes in linguistics and literature. We examine the world-wide spread of the English language, focusing on regions where English is spoken as a residual feature of British colonial history (like Ireland, Africa, and the Caribbean). We will explore linguistic, sociolinguistic and literary issues in the globalization of English. These include variation in English, World Englishes, second language acquisition, attitudes to language, language and identity, and postcolonial writing. Postcolonial English in linguistics and literature come together in central questions such as: How have postcolonial writers struggled whether or not to write in the English language and how have postcolonial writers used different forms of the English language in their writing to stay true to their culture as well as to construct the identity of characters in their works? The literary texts will be used to illustrate some of the contemporary scholarly debates about the relationship between the postmodern and postcolonial. The questioning of received history, focus on the marginal and subversive use of Englishes in the postcolonial texts and specifically examines the inextricable links between language and literature.



An extensive essay or research report about a linguistic- or literary issue, or a combined linguistic-literary issue, in the postcolonial English-speaking world.


Study Load

280 hrs.


Background Literature and Course Materials

See Course Syllabus Global English


A selection of prospective literature:

Achebe, C. 1994. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books

Matlwa, K. 2008. Coconut. Jacana Media

Schneider, E. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties of English around the world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Selvon, S. 2006. Lonely Londoners. Penguin Modern Classics

Friel, Brian. 2003. Translations. Faber and Faber Plays



€120 (max)


Further information

Twice 6 weeks of lectures during the second semester of 2014-2015 (dates to be announced)