File - English 102

A Woefully Brief and
Limited Intro to
Post-Colonial Theory
And Catch Up From Last Week
• Reminder that Homework Assignments (The Reading
Responses) have a HUGE impact on your grade.
• Essay 2 is on its way.
• If you turned in Essay 1 late, your essay will be graded AFTER
the on-time Essay 2 essays are graded.
• Don’t forget, you should finish reading The Hunger Games by
next week. Quiz on Tuesday!
Postcolonialism (post-colonial theory or postoriental) is a term that applies to more than just
the study of literature—it also 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.
When discussing it as a literary theory, it focuses
on the reading and writing of literature written in
previously or currently colonized countries.
These theories are reactions to the cultural legacy
of colonialism.
PostColonial Theory
• [Briefly read selections from the Intro in Textbook]
• 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.
• The field of postcolonial studies has itself been hotly contested ever
since its rise in the 1970s.
Post Colonial Theory Continued
• It investigates the literature written in colonial
countries and by their citizens—especially when it
has colonized people as its subject matter.
• Similar to the ways in which 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.
Colonized people who managed to gain access
to education and “upward mobility”—
especially from colonies in the British
Empire—often attended British universities.
Their access to education, still unavailable in
the colonies, created a new criticism - mostly
literary, and especially in novels.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union during the
late 20th century, its former republics became the
subject of this study as well.
• 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
Key Terms
Alterity-lack of identification with some part of
one’s community, differentness, otherness.
Diaspora-refer to any people or ethnic
population forced or induce to leave their
homelands, being dispersed throughout other
parts of the world.
Imperialism-extending the control or
authority over foreign entities as a means
of acquisition and maintenance of empires,
either through direct territorial control or
through cultural control.
Eurocentrism-the practice, conscious or
otherwise, of placing emphasis on European
concerns, culture and values at the expense of
those of other cultures.
Hybridity-referring to the integration of cultural
signs and practices from the colonizing and
colonized cultures.
The 3 Major Foundational
Authors in Postcolonial Theory
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 died in 2003
• Palestinian-American scholar, critic, and writer
• Said, raised as an Anglican (Church of England),
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.
• It describes the academic and cultural discourse about
the East constructed by the West and the problems
inherent in that.
• 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
• Caribbean
• Polynesia
• United States
Postcolonial Examples:
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Wole Soyinka, The Lion and the Jewel
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Giannina Braschi, United States of Banana
Gandhi (1982) --India (colonized by the British)
Sugar Cane Alley (1984) –Martinique (colonized by the French)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) –Australia, colonized by the British
Whale Rider (2004) –New Zealand, colonized by the British
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
–Ireland, colonized by the British
From Last Week:
• If you are interested in Queer Theory, I can send
you a power point to supplement what you have
read in your textbook and what we discussed
last week
• I can also send you a queer theory student
example research discussing the film: “Fried
Green Tomatoes”
For Thursday:
• Thursday, May 14
Topics: Cultural Theory: American Multiculturalism
Homework Due:
Read “American Multiculturalism” p. 1236-1238
Read Short Story: “Pilon” p. 77
Read Poem: Sherman Alexie “Evolution” p. 452