This Subject Includes

  • Course No: HS 560
  • Course: MA in Liberal Arts
  • Semester: I
  • Title: Race and the Novel
  • Stream:
  • Preamble / Objectives (Optional): This course will introduce students to critical debates on the

    politics of race and racism. Beginning with a history of slavery in North America, we will analyze

    the conditions that made slavery the most significant factor to shape the history of America as a

    national economy divided by race and class. We will in this context examine technological

    innovations in the context of slave labour, the cotton boom and the cotton gin, the

    financialization of slave labour, the relationship between slavery and global capitalism, the

    collapse of the slave economy, the emancipation of slaves in the wake of the American civil war

    and the promise that the industrial-capitalist North held for ex-slaves. This will be followed by a

    study of the history of racism in South Africa and a comparative study of the two regions. In the

    South African context, we will begin by looking at the significance of South Africa in terms of its

    strategic location in the larger cartography of trade and commerce. We will look at the Dutch

    East India Company and the role it played in establishing a slave economy, British colonialism

    and Apartheid Laws that sharpened and entrenched the spatial and ideological divide between

    white and black.

    Select texts to be discussed: Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground

    Railroad, and in the South African context: Coetzee’s Disgrace and Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s

    Story. Our discussion of these novels will revolve around questions of historical and collective

    memory, the problem of language and the representation of the lasting trauma of slavery, the

    (self) alienating effects of slavery on their black characters, attempts to negotiate with the past,

    the fraught intersections between gender, sexuality, class and race, the politics of race and sexual

    violence, class politics, communism and the class politics of race, race and global de-colonization

    movements and the class divides among whites and blacks.


    Books (In case UG compulsory courses, please give it as “Text books” and “Reference books”.

    Otherwise give it as “References”.

    Texts: (Format: Authors, Book Title in Italics font, Volume/Series, Edition Number, Publisher,


    1. Nadine Gordimer, My Son’s Story. Picador, 2012.

    4. T. Morrison, Beloved. Vintage. 2015

    5. J. Coetzee, Foe. Penguin, UK. 2010.

    6. C. Whitehead, The Underground Railroad. Fleet. 2017.

    References: (Format: Authors, Book Title in Italics font, Volume/Series, Edition Number,

    Publisher, Year.)

    1. H. Zinn, A People’s History of the United States. Harper Perennial, 2016.

    2. M. Morris, Apartheid: The History of Apartheid: Race vs. Reason - South Africa from 1948 – 1994. Sunbird. 2012.