ENGL31011 – Postcolonial Literature and Theory
Students evidently found this course enjoyable and instructive. They really appreciated the opportunity to engage with unfamiliar primary texts from diverse periods and places. Moreover, they found the course challenging since it introduced them to texts, concepts and ideas that prompted them to ask difficult questions about their own preconceptions and expectations: culturally but also, occasionally, politically. The chance to read theoretical material was valued, particularly the time given over in class to detailed and, importantly, critical discussion of this material. The balance between theoretical and literary texts was considered appropriate. A great deal of material, including reading lists and secondary articles, is posted on Blackboard, which students found helpful. The feedback on essays received particularly effusive praise for being prompt, extensive, detailed and constructive.
Gratifyingly, my teaching was praised for its clarity and for my ability to encourage debate. The classes were thought to be focussed and effectively structured. Several students mentioned the size of the class and thought that this might have discouraged them from participating in the discussion. I was aware of the problem and will place greater emphasis on group work next year and perhaps on class presentations in order to encourage the quieter students to engage.
The perennial dissatisfaction with library resources is being tackled. I am aware that there are gaps in the provision when it comes to postcolonial literature and theory and am busily ordering new books. Some students would like more contact time. This year I held a weekly reading group to discuss poems, articles and so on that were relevant to the material discussed in seminars but which were not in any way part of the course. Attendance was OK and we had some good discussions. I will continue with this experiment next year.
Several students suggested that formative feedback might be introduced earlier in the course so that they could gauge their progress. I will look into the possibility of introducing this for 2011-12.
Robert Spencer, 11/1/11