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Post-Colonial Theory: Home

The Postcolonial Approach

Typical questions:

  • How does the literary text, explicitly or allegorically, represent various aspects of colonial oppression?
  • What does the text reveal about the problematics of post-colonial identity, including the relationship between personal and cultural identity and such issues as double consciousness and hybridity?
  • What person(s) or groups does the work identify as "other" or stranger? How are such persons/groups described and treated?
  • What does the text reveal about the politics and/or psychology of anti-colonialist resistance?
  • What does the text reveal about the operations of cultural difference - the ways in which race, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, cultural beliefs, and customs combine to form individual identity - in shaping our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live?
  • How does the text respond to or comment upon the characters, themes, or assumptions of a canonized (colonialist) work?
  • Are there meaningful similarities among the literatures of different post-colonial populations?
  • How does a literary text in the Western canon reinforce or undermine colonialist ideology through its representation of colonialization and/or its inappropriate silence about colonized peoples? (Tyson 378-379)


Yale Lecture on Post-Colonial Criticism

In this lecture on post-colonial theory, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Edward Said and Homi K. Bhabha. The complicated origins, definitions, and limitations of the term "post-colonial" are outlined. Elaine Showalter's theory of the phasic development of female literary identity is applied to the expression of post-colonial identities. Crucial terms such as ambivalence, hybridity, and double consciousness are explained. The relationship between Bhabha's concept of sly civility and Gates's "signifyin'" is discussed, along with the reliance of both on semiotics.

  • 00:00 - Chapter 1. Problems With the Term "Post-Colonial"
  • 08:56 - Chapter 2. A Room of One's Own Revisited
  • 14:00 - Chapter 3. Orientalism and Showalter's Phases
  • 20:51 - Chapter 4. The Relationship Between Said and Bhabha
  • 26:54 - Chapter 5. The Master-Slave Dialectic
  • 36:12 - Chapter 6. Bhabha: Ambivalence and Hybridity
  • 50:40 - Chapter 7. "Sly Civility" as Signifyin'

Edward Said

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