SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

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

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 of 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

This module 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 module refers includes Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. The module will encourage the critical appreciation of literary works, which range from poetry to novels and short stories. Although the key focus 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 module. . As a result the content builds on the introductory lectures provided in Introduction to South East Asia and, to some extent on South East Asia on Film. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will have:

  1. acquired knowledge of how the themes of war, revolution and independence play out in a selection of South East Asian literary texts in translation. 
  2. the ability 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.
  3. learned how to read and evaluate texts critically and to understand them in terms of the cultural, political and historical contexts in which they were composed. 
  4. improved their essay writing skills and will have learned how to extract and process information from literary and secondary sources, and to combine the two
  5. learned 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


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour seminar.

Method of assessment

  • two reaction papers of 600 words each (30%)
  • an essay of 2000 words to be submitted in the term after the module is taught (70%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading will be provided at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules