SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia

War, Revolution and Independence in South East Asian Literatures in Translation

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2016/2017
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2


Pre-requisites are Introduction to South East Asia (0.5 unit) and South East Asia on Film (0.5 unit) (or equivalent).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course a student should have acquired knowledge of how the themes of war, revolution and independence play out in a selection of South East Asian literary texts in translation. This will enable the student to work critically on a variety of literary forms, most notably novels, short stories and poetry and to acquire additional background information on history, politics and culture of the countries in question. The focus will be on Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Students will have learned how to read and evaluate these texts critically and to understand them in terms of the cultural, political and historical contexts in which they were composed. In terms of generic skills, students will improve upon essay writing skills and will have learned how to extract and process information from literary and secondary sources, and to combine the two. As a result of the emphasis on group discussion of the literary texts explored in this course, they will learn how to contribute constructively to debates, how to accommodate the views of others in the learning group and how to present their own views orally.


A total of 11 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The course will examine the key issues pertaining to the representation of war, revolution and independence in a selection of literary works in English translation by South East Asian authors. The range of countries to which this course refers includes Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. The course will encourage the critical appreciation of literary works, which range from poetry to novels and short stories. Although the key focus of this course is on modern literature, classical texts may also be considered. Weekly lectures will consider literary works and will, in addition provide the information to contextualize the work in terms of its historical and political specificities. Separate tutorial sessions each week will be devoted to the discussion, analysis and close reading of the literary text in question in light of the thematic concerns of the course. . As a result the content of this course builds on the introductory lectures provided in Introduction to South East Asia and, to some extent on South East Asia on Film (although it can be taken as a discrete half unit and is not dependent on these courses).

Method of assessment

One two hour examination taken in May/June (70%); one essay of 2,500 - 3,000 words to be submitted on the Friday of week 2, Term 2 (30%).

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list for this course will be supplied by the convenor at the beginning of the course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules