Exploratory Five-Page Paper on Postcolonial Theory


In this essay, you will come to terms with and critically examine at least one postcolonial critic and at least one other theorist with whom that critic engages: e.g. Fanon and Lacan, Bhabha and Said, Spivak and Kristeva, and so on.  For ideas about which critics to choose, consult the Post-Colonial Studies Reader and Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, which are available on reserve in the Halle library, as well as the Emory University website on postcolonialism:




You might also begin by choosing a chapter of interest to you in one of the other postcolonial anthologies on reserve, thereafter selecting another theorist with whom that author significantly engages to research and discuss in conjunction with that chapter.  The point of this assignment is not to privilege the theory over the literature, but to make you feel more comfortable with and conversant in the sometimes daunting debates and terminology that inform postcolonial studies. You can re-use and adapt this paper for your final seminar paper, in which you will apply these critics — or other critics, should you change directions mid-course — to a novel of your choice pertaining to the themes of the class.  Some suggested critics are listed below, with related theorists in parentheses.  Authors with asterisks next to their names are not necessarily postcolonial critics, only theorists with whom postcolonial critics engage.  Make sure that the postcolonial critic, not the European theorist, is at the forefront of your analysis.  The critics that you discuss should also be distinct from those already assigned as required reading on the syllabus.  If you want to discuss one of the critics listed on the syllabus, choose a different chapter, book, or article than the one that we focus on in class. 

Anthologies on Reserve:



Selections in the Post-Colonial Studies Reader are shortened significantly, so consult the original publication instead of that included in the anthology.

Possible Theoretical Pairs:


Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem (Barthes, Lacan, Suleri, Chow)

Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory (Said, Jameson, Marx)

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands (Bakhtin, Derrida, Kristeva)

Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father’s House (Gates, Derrida)

Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large (Anderson, Hall, Marx)

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (Geertz, Marx)

* Roland Barthes, Mythologies (Alloula)

Homi Bhabha, Location of Culture (Fanon, Lacan, Irigaray, Foucault, Said, Derrida, Spivak)

------ . Nation and Narration

Carter, Paul, The Road to Botany Bay (Foucault, Fabian, Anderson)

Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (, Fanon, Bhabha, Foucault)

Rey Chow, Primitive Passions (Derrida, Alloula, Lacan, Weber)

------ . The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism

------ . Writing Diaspora

James Clifford, Predicament of Culture (Geertz, Fabian, Gilroy)

------ . Writing Cultures

* Paul de Man, Allegories of Reading

Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (de Man, Rousseau, Lévi Strauss)

Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases (Kristeva, Spivak, Chow)

Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other (Lévi Struass)

Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

------ . Wretched of the Earth

* Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (Said, Ahmad, Spivak, Bhabha)

------ . History of Sexuality

------ . Madness and Civilization

------ . Order of Things

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Bhabha, Marx, Foucault, Suleri)

Henry Louis Gates, Signifying Monkey (Geertz, Fabian, Gilroy)

Clifford Geetrz, Interpretation of Cultures (Geertz, Hulme, Fabian, Gilroy)

Sander Gilman, “Black Bodies, White Bodies,” Critical Inquiry (1985): 205+

Paul Gilroy, Black Atlantic (Geertz, Fabian, Hulme)

* Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks (Said, Ahmad, Hall, Fanon, Marx)

Stuart Hall, “Cultural Studies,” Media, Culture, and Society (Fanon, Césaire, Williams, Gramsci, Foucault, Marx, Spivak, Said)

Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters (Foucault, Said, Gilroy)

C. L. R. James, Black Jacobins (Marx)

* Fredric Jameson, The Geopolitical Aesthetic (Ahmad, Appiah)

------ . The Political Unconscious

* Julia Kristeva, “About Chinese Women,” Kristeva Reader (Spivak, Chow)

------ . Desire in Language

------ . “Women’s Time,” Kristeva Reader

Claude Lévi Struass, Tristes Tropiques

Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains

Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather (Freud, Bhabha, Said)

Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman, Native, Other (Spivak, Kristeva, Chow)

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders (Spivak, Pratt)

V. Y. Mudimbe, The Idea of Africa (Marx)

------ . The Invention of Africa

Ashis Nandy, The Savage Freud (Freud, Lacan, Fanon, Bhabha)

------ . The Intimate Enemy

Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes (Gilman, Suleri)

Fernando Ortiz, Cuban Counterpoint (Pratt, Freire)  

* Jean Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality”

Edward Said, Orientalism (Foucault, Gramsci, Williams, Thompson, Yegenoglu)

------ . Culture and Imperialism

Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, In Other Worlds (Kristeva, Irigaray, Derrida, Foucault)

------ . “Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism,” Critical Inquiry (1985): 243+

Doris Sommer, Foundational Fictions (de Man)

Sara Suleri, Rhetoric of English India (Kristeva, Irigaray, Derrida, Foucault)

* Max Weber, The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Chow)

* Raymond Williams, Keywords (Marx)

------ . Marxism and Literature

Meyda Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism (Said, Spivak)