Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist?

Ref: C3743017

In an essay in his 1991 collection Imaginary Homelands British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie asserts that “Commonwealth literature does not exist”. This ten-week course interrogates that assertion through a study of texts by authors from a variety of Commonwealth countries. While for some of the writers studied national identity may seem ‘fixed’ (Keri Hulme – New Zealand, Ben Okri – Nigeria, Manju Kapur – India, Peter Carey – Australia), for others it is less so. V S Naipaul is a British writer of Indian descent born in Trinidad, while Shyam Selvadurai is a Canadian national born in Sri Lanka. Chandani Lokugé is also Sri Lankan in origin but writing from Australia, while Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah is based in the United Kingdom. Through the examination of these and other writers we will consider the importance of national identity in a selection of texts that can usefully be considered in a post-colonial context.

Course aim

To provide a study of texts by authors from a variety of Commonwealth countries.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of Commonwealth writing and locate key texts in their socio-political contexts.
  • Discuss the discourses surrounding Commonwealth writing.
  • Describe the anxieties and preoccupations of writers from the Commonwealth.
  • Interpret literary texts in a critical way, illustrating arguments with carefully chosen examples.
  • Demonstrate my knowledge through the construction of critical arguments and present and defend those arguments confidently with my peers.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Primary materials as detailed in the reading list.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Week 1: V S Naipaul, A Bend in the River Please request the full reading list from the WEA

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist?


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing