Masterclass with Ato Quayson (University of Toronto)

Masterclass with Ato Quayson (University of Toronto)

Date: Friday, 4 October, 2013
Time: 16.00-18.30
Location: Ravesteynzaal, Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Utrecht

Literary spaces and Spatial Theories in Postcolonial Literature

The masterclass for advanced RMa students and PhD students will look into the general intersections between Spatial Theory and Literary Space with special emphasis on postcolonial literature. Ato Quayson has just completed a book on the urban history of Accra told from the perspective from a single street for Duke UP (forthcoming), coming out of his work on how to apply spatial theory (such as Henri Lefebre’s The Production of Space) to the understanding of space in literature. Prof. Quayson has been approaching the question with a focus that is more literary critical than sociological, thus less interested in questions of marketing, the global market place of judgement, etc. and primarily concerned with how we detect and describe space when we see it as either a thematic or a description in literature.

The background readings for the masterclass are:

  • Quayson, Ato. 2012a. “Introduction: Postcolonial Literature in a Changing Historical Frame.” In The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, Vol. 1., edited by Ato Quayson, 1-29. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press.
  • Quayson, Ato. 2012b. “Periods vrs Concepts: Space Making and the Question of Postcolonial Literary History.” PMLA, 127(2): 349-356.
  • Lefebre, Henri, Chapters 1 and 2 of Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time, and Everyday Life. New York: Continuum International, 2004.
  • Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1986. “The Bildungsroman and its Significance in the History of Realism”, in Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Austin: University of Texas Press, 10-59.
  • Moretti, Franco. 1987. “Bildungsroman and Symbolic Form,” in The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture, London: Verso, 3-13. 

In order to register for the masterclass, please email:

Ato Quayson is Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto, where he has been since August 2005. He did his BA at the University of Ghana and took his PhD from Cambridge University in 1995. He then went on to the University of Oxford as a Research Fellow, returning to Cambridge in September 1995 to become a Fellow at Pembroke College and a member of the Faculty of English where he eventually became a Reader in Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies.

Prof. Quayson has published widely on African literature, postcolonial studies and in literary theory. His book publications include the Blackwell Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism Studies, ed.with Girish Daswani (in press, New York: Blackwell, 2013); The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, ed., 2 volumes. (Cambridge University Press, 2012); Labour Migration, Human Trafficking and Multinational Corporations (with Antonela Arhin; New York: Routledge, 2012); Fathers and Daughters: An Anthology of Exploration, ed., (Oxford: Ayebia Publishers, 2008); Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007); African Literature: An Anthology of Theory and Criticism (with Tejumola Olaniyan; Oxford: Blackwell, 2007); Relocating Postcolonialism (with David Theo Goldberg; Oxford: Blackwell, 2002). He also wrote the Introduction and Notes to the Penguin Classics edition of Nelson Mandela’s No Easy Walk to Freedom (London: Penguin, 2002) and is General Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. 

Together with the masterclass, Ato Quayson will also be giving a public lecture on Postcolonialism and the Diasporic Imaginary (as part of the lecture series New Directions in Literary Postcolonial Studies, organized via the Postcolonial Studies Initiative PCI and the Center for the Humanities (Utrecht University), with support from the Research Institute for History and Culture OGC and the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies OSL. Earlier speakers in the series were Emily Apter (NYU) in June 2011 and Réda Bensmaïa (Brown) in October 2012.

The lecture will take place on Monday, 7 October 2013 (12.00-14.00 at Utrecht University). For more information, please email: