A Woefully Brief and
Limited Intro to
Post-Colonial Theory
And Catch Up From Last Week
• Homework and it’s impact on your grade.
• Essay 2 is on its way.
• Pass out an extra copy of the research paper prompt.
PostColonial Theory
• [Briefly read selections from the Intro in Textbook]
• Focuses on the reading and writing of literature written in
previously or currently colonized countries.
• The Postcolonial theory is a term that refers the theoretical and
critical observations of former colonies of the Western powers
and how they relate to, and interact with, the rest of the world.
• Greatly interested in the cultures of the colonizer and the
colonized, postcolonial theory seeks to critically investigate what
happens when two cultures clash and one of them ideologically
fashions itself as superior and assumes dominance and control
over the other.
Post Colonial Theory Continued
• The field of postcolonial studies has itself been hotly
contested ever since its rise in the 1970s.
• Similar to how feminist critics often focus on writing by
women that has been historically ignored or thought
unimportant, postcolonial critics often focus on writing by
people from colonized cultures—either during or after
colonization—and examine the (often destructive) ways in
which the colonizing or dominating culture influenced or
erased the colonized culture.
• The hyphenated term (-) Postcolonial implies the
effects of colonialism on cultures after the end
of colonialism, such as the legacy of Eurocentric
Gandhi, Leela .1998. Postcolonial Theory: An Introduction
The run-on term Postcolonial refers to the
effects of colonialism on cultures from the
beginning of colonialism to the present date.
Ashcroft et. al (1989) Empire Writes Back
The 3 Pillars of Postcolonial
1. Edward W. Said
2. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
3. Homi K. Bhabha
Edward Said
• Probably the most important figure for the rise
of postcolonial studies and theory.
• Born in 1935 in Jerusalem and dies 2003
• Palestinian-American scholar, critic, and writer
• Said, raised as an Anglican, attended a British
school in Cairo then at Princeton and Harvard, he
became an academic literary critic.
• From 1963 until his death he was a professor of
English and comparative literature at Columbia
University in New York.
Edward Said continued
• His 1978 book Orientalism reevaluated an entire
historical tradition of European-American thought,
examining the relation of political power to the
representation of the world, and generated an entire
field of cultural and postcolonial studies as well as
informing the thinking of scholars in every area of
cultural, social and historical work.
• Other significant books include The Question of
Palestine (1979), Covering Islam (1981), The
World, the Text and the Critic (1983), Culture and
Imperialism (1993), The Politics of Dispossession
(1994), Representations of the Intellectual (1994),
Peace and Its Discontents (1995), The End of the
Peace Process (2000), Reflections on Exile (2000)
and Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004).
• Illustrates Asian and Islamic Cultures during European
imperialism and Europe’s goals of maintaining power and
domination of non-Europeans
• He argued that Europe used the Orient and imperialism as a
symbol of its strength and superiority.
• “Said suggested that Orientalists are treated as others—in this
case, Muslims and Asians—and as objects defined not in
terms of their own discourses, but solely in terms of standards
and definitions imposed on them from outside. Among the
influences underlying these definitions was, in Said's view, a
long-standing Western concern with presenting Islam as
opposed to Christianity.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
• Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak was born in 1942
• Is thought of as one of the three co-founders of
postcolonial theory.
• Her main work on the postcolonial theory was
her Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a
History of the Vanishing Present (1999)
• Her work combines Marxism, feminism, and
Homi K. Bhabha
• He wrote the Nation and Narration (1990)
• This considers how to conceptualize the nation
under colonialism and, by default, in
• Here he takes issue with the anthropologist
Benedict Anderson's view of the relationship
between imperialism and its resistance in
Imagined Communities (1991).
Places that produce literature often
examined in Postcolonial Studies
• Latin America
• Africa
• East and Southeast Asia
• South Asia
• Carrabin
• Polynesia
• United States
From Last Week:
• If you are interested in Queer Theory, I have
uploaded a power point to supplement what you
have read in your textbook.
• I have also uploaded a student example research
paper that uses queer theory to discuss a film:
“Fried Green Tomatoes”
Major Change To Schedule:
• I’ve decided that we are (sadly) going to drop our day on
American Multiculturalism in favor of giving you all time to have
a peer review of your Research Paper so far.
• Last Thursday I asked you to bring in an
introduction/tentative thesis statement and at least 2
sources BUT class was cancelled due to this damn flu.
• This Thursday, I am cancelling the readings and the homework
and I want you to focus on your Research Papers.
• Bring in either
• A rough draft (2-3 pages)
• A detailed outline + an introduction, thesis, and at least 2-3 critical
Once Again, for Thursday
• Topics: Cultural Theory: American Multiculturalism, Identity
Politics, and Border Theory
Homework Due:
Read “American Multiculturalism” p. 1236-1238
Read excerpt from “Borderlands/La Frontera”
Read Short Story: “Pilon” p. 77
Read Poem: Sherman Alexie “Evolution” p. 452
• New Due:
• Research Paper Progress Check and Peer Review. Bring In:
• A rough draft (2-3 pages)
• OR
• A detailed outline + an introduction, thesis, and at least 2-3
critical sources.