CFP: Worldly Teaching: Critical Pedagogy and Global Literature

Masood Raja, my former professor and friend at North Texas University, asked me to pass along this interesting book project call for papers: Worldly Teaching: Critical Pedagogy and Global Literature. I believe that he is still accepting proposals if you send in an abstract right away. Read below for the details:

Worldly Teaching: Critical Pedagogy and Global Literature

An Edited Collection

As universities move from a Eurocentric literature curriculum to one focused on world or global literature, there has emerged a need for a text that addresses the issues of teaching world literature from a theoretical as well as a praxis-derived perspective. Worldly Teaching aims to enable a better pedagogical praxis by offering two kinds of scholarly writings: Part One of the book focuses on various aspects of critical pedagogy and its importance for teaching world literature by offering ten to twelve carefully selected chapters written by established and emerging scholars in the fields of critical pedagogy, world literature, and postcolonial studies. Part Two of the book offers ten brief praxis-driven essays by instructors who have taught world literature courses at university level. Thus, in one volume we provide both a theoretical and praxis-driven engagement with teaching world literature. Worldly Teaching has the potential to become an extremely useful text for students, teachers, and academic administrators alike.

Mostly offered as gateway courses, these world literature classes are meant to expose the American students to a wide array of texts from all over the world. These courses are mostly staffed by graduate students and part-time instructors who are neither trained in teaching world literature nor given any extra resources to prepare themselves.  Additionally, they are also expected to master the textual and extra-textual aspects of teaching world literature while being the most overworked and underpaid group of teachers on any university campus.

It seems that this shift from a Euro-centric to a world-centered curriculum, though politically convenient, loses its transformative potential for the text itself is expected to stand in for the world. Relying heavily on the coverage model, a World Literature survey course attempts to provide as much of the world as possible, lending itself to an exoticist and reductionist readings of texts. There is a danger then that, if taught uncritically, the same texts that are expected to teach the world to the students can also end up solidifying the existing stereotypes of their global others.

We believe that a good understanding of critical pedagogy and its emphasis on teaching the other can inform the teaching of world literature and transform this practice from that of a mere cosmic shift to a more nuanced transformation: a practice in which our students actually learn to think the other and learn their own privileged place in an uneven and unjust world.


Theoretical Chapter proposals (200-440 words), along with your contact information, due by June 1, 2011.

Full-length Teaching Notes entries (1550-2000), along with your contact information, due by June 1, 2011.

We will inform the selected authors about our decisions to accept/decline their proposals by July 1.

Full Chapters will be due by August 1.

We will propose the book to a few good publishers immediately after we have chosen the required chapters. We hope that by the time you have finished the chapters, we will have a publisher willing to review the volume. The whole process may take up to the end of 2012.


Masood Raja, University of North Texas

Hillary Stringer, University of North Texas

Zach VandeZande, University of North Texas

Contact Email:


Ama Ata Aidoo’s Our Sister Killjoy and Frankenstein

Yufang showed me a quote about Frankenstein and Science Fiction in a book on her postcolonial literature comprehensive exam reading list, Ama Ata Aidoo’s Our Sister Killjoy (1977).  Aidoo is a Ghanaian feminist writer, and she’s currently a visiting professor at Brown University.  I thought it was really interesting the way that Aidoo uses the Western Frankenstein myth or model to talk about the evolutionary derivation of whiteness (Europeans) from blackness (African) following the early-human diaspora from the African continent a couple million years ago.  The speaker aligns Europeans with Frankenstein’s monster, or the “man from the icy caves of the north,” through the exclamation, “But good God, I refuse to think that the man from the icy caves of the north could have been one of our inventions.  Yet sometimes one wonders, considering the ferocity with which he has been attacking us.  As though we were to blame for his feelings of inadequacy.  Both physical and otherwise.  Especially physical” (115).  And then the speaker ties it together with the Frankenstein story and a terrific observation about the nature of SF in general by saying, “It all sounds like science fiction.  Like the story of Frankenstein.  But then, science fiction is only a wild extension of reality, no?”  I’ve included the full quote with some extra material leading up to it below.

            My question is:  who was there when we were saying farewell to our God?  My Darling, we are not responsible for anybody else but ourselves.  We did not create other races.  So we should not let others make us suffer because we are stronger than them or have better skins.

            Sickle cell anaemia.  High blood pressure.  Faster heartbeats in infancy.  One truth maybe.  A whole lot of wishful thinking.  No amount of pseudo-scientific junk is going to make us a weaker race than we are.  And may they come to no good who wish us ill.  After all, what baby doesn’t know that the glistening blackest coal also gives the hottest and the most sustained heat?  Energy.  Motion.  We are all that.  Yes, why not? . . . A curse on those who for money would ruin the Earth and trade in human miseries.

            We have always produced great minds.  But good God, I refuse to think that the man from the icy caves of the north could have been one of our inventions.  Yet sometimes one wonders, considering the ferocity with which he has been attacking us.  As though we were to blame for his feelings of inadequacy.  Both physical and otherwise.  Especially physical.

            It all sounds like science fiction.  Like the story of Frankenstein.  But then, science fiction is only a wild extension of reality, no?  (Aidoo 114-115)

 What’s even more interesting about this quote is the fact that this novel is representative of Ghanaian literature despite its modernist underpinnings and Western intertextualities.  I’m not saying that a Ghanaian novel cannot do or contain those things, but my suspicion is that there are other novels that aren’t considered world literature, and here I’m borrowing from James English’s analysis of Keri Hulme’s the bone people in The Economy of Prestige, because they aren’t readily accessible to a Western audience.  This is because they are more Ghanian (whatever that might mean) and less engaged with post-Enlightenment, Western (or in this case, Northern) ideas and textual networks.  

However, this is the great debate in postcolonialist studies–following the colonial era, you can’t, as the saying goes, return home.  The colonial experience irrevocably changes the colonized’s culture and language.  In Ghana’s case, it was once a colonial holding of the United Kingdom, and it was the first African colony to achieve its independence from the crown.  As a result of the colonizer’s influence, English is the primary language of Ghana, and the UK educational system is more than likely similar to that of other former colonial holdings such as India.  Ghana is implicated with and tied to the West through its past and present, so there really isn’t such a thing as “pure” Ghanaian literature devoid of Western influence, but there is certainly Ghanaian literature that is part of the expansive global networks emanating diachronically from the Enlightenment and the continuing influence of the Western colonizer.  

Find out more about Aidoo on Wikipedia here, or on her Brown University faculty entry here.  The bibliographic entry for her novel is:

Aidoo, Ama Ata.  Our Sister Killjoy, or Reflections from a Black-eyed Squint.  New York:  Longman, 1977.