Writing South Asia

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Arts

Module overview

Student Profile

The Writing South Asia module was a fantastic opportunity to explore different kinds of literature, ranging from short stories to poetry to novels, from a variety of regions in South Asia. It helped me to develop a critical framework through which to dissect and analyse literature as well as become more confident at tackling literary and cultural theory. The diversity of the materials studied and liveliness of the classroom discussion meant it was always one of the highlights of my week at SOAS.

Olivia Majumdar

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will acquire;

  1. An advanced knowledge of distinctive literary strategies and devices deployed in South Asian writing;
  2. A critical understanding of South Asian literary texts in their appropriate historical and cultural contexts;
  3. An understanding of key critical (postcolonial) and theoretical approaches applied to these writings;
  4. The ability to produce critical accounts of the literature, paying appropriate attention to both formal and contextual issues.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week: one hour lecture and one hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

This module introduces students to the rich heritage of Writing South Asia. It examines literary dynamics of modern South Asian writing as manifested in novels, short stories and poetry written in English. In conversation with themes of sexuality, nation building, Partition, exile and migration the course touches on key issues that are relevant to the region and its diasporas. Students will be expected to have some knowledge of literary critical theoretical concepts and the course is designed for students with a prior background in literature and with some basic knowledge of the South Asian region.

Method of assessment

An essay of 1,000 words to be submitted Friday, Week 7, Term 1 (35%), an essay of 2,500 words to be submitted Friday, Week 11, Term 1 (45%), a 5-10 minute in-class presentation (10%), regular attendance and seminar participation (10%).

Suggested reading

  • Raja Rao, Kanthapura
  • Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable
  • Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
  • Bapsi Sidhwa, Ice Candy Man
  • Sara Suleri, Meatless Days

Reading Week

  • Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
  • Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy
  • Agha Shahid Ali, The Country without a Post Office
  • Anil Menon, The Beast with Nine Billion Feet
  • Sunjeev Sahota, Ours Are the Streets


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules