The Indonesian Connection: Dutch Literature About the Indies in English Translation

TTh 5-630P

The course fulfills the L&S breadth requirement in Arts & Literature.

This course focuses on literature about the colonial history of Indonesia, the former Dutch East Indies. We will cover five novels – all of them landmarks in Dutch literature (in English translation) - in their historical and cultural context. We begin with a historical introduction  about the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch colonial presence in Southeast Asia. We begin our analysis of literature with Multatuli’s Max Havelaar (1860), a controversial novel in which the author accuses his own country of being a “pirate-state, oppressing the Javanese people”. Other novels are Louis Couperus’ The Hidden Force (1900), a remarkable record of Javanese resistance to colonial oppression in the form of magical intimidation and Hella Haasse’s Forever a Stranger (1948), an impressive account of the widespread disillusionment among Dutch residents in the Indies when facing the impossibility of Dutch-Javanese coexistence after independence. We will continue with Jeroen Brouwers, who experienced life in an internment camp during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in the Second World War and reproduced those horrors in Sunken Red (1981). We end with My Father’s War (1994), a moving account by Adriaan van Dis of the difficult integration in the Netherlands of Dutch colonials who returned “home” after Indonesia’s independence. No knowledge of Dutch language is required.

This course is cross-listed with Dutch C164 section 1. Either of these courses can be used toward complete of the S,SEASN Major.

Spring 2014