1999/2000 Semester 2
M.A. - English Language & Literature
EN 5209 Recent Developments in Postcolonial Theory

Course Lecturers:
Dr John Phillips, elljwp@nus.edu.sg,
Dr Chitra Sankaran, ellcs@nus.edu.sg, and
Dr Ismail S. Talib, ellibst@leonis.nus.edu.sg
Course Web page:

For the 1999-2000 academic year, the course on recent developments in postcolonial theory will concentrate on

The content and issues presented in the chosen books or areas will be critically examined. In addition, we will discuss the perception of postcolonial theory from a Southeast Asian or South Asian perspective, and its future in our changed world, especially with regard to the rapid development of some Asian economies and the severe economic problems some of them faced more recently. We will also examine the position of postcolonial theory in an increasingly 'borderless' world. This development has made the distinction between East and West less noticeable, although, at the same time, the world seems to have become paradoxically more divided according to ethnic lines. Two further issues to be discussed are whether postcolonial theory can survive outside the Metropolitan centres of academic influence in the West, and whether it has a complicit ally in the continued dominance of the West, especially in relation to the attempt by Western business establishments to improve their knowledge of the Third or developing World with a view to enhancing their production capabilities and widening their markets. As a consequence of our discussion of some of these issues, we will try to determine whether postcolonial theory can be 're-written' from a more genuine Eastern perspective so that a more balanced picture can be created, whether it will continue to be 'postcolonial' after this act of re-writing, or whether, indeed, the East is too fragmented or has become too diluted to be used as a platform for such an act.

Students are expected to have some knowledge of postcolonial literature; postcolonial theory prior to the nineties (some studies are listed in the reading list below); the history of Western expansion; and critical theory, especially with reference to the various approaches, such as structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, Marxism, and to the major figures, such as Foucault, Derrida, Lacan and Marx. As postcolonial theory deals not only with the past, but with the present and future as well, students should have a keen interest in current affairs, particularly when it comes to the clash between Eastern and Western cultural perceptions in the political and other spheres. As we will be engaged in a close reading of the abovementioned books by Said, and Bhabha, students are expected to purchase them.

Recording of the Fourth Lecture: see the menu.

Compulsory Texts

The above books should be available from the NUS Cooperative Bookstore at the beginning of the semester. Recommended readings on feminist theory will be given during the semester.

Supplementary Readings

Some of the following studies may be useful in your study of postcolonial theory.

Achebe, Chinua. Hopes and Impediments. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Ahmad, Aijaz. In Theory. London: Verso, 1992.

Alatas, Syed Hussein. The Myth of the Lazy Native. London: F. Cass, 1977.

Amur, G. S. and S. K. Desai, eds. Colonial Consciousness in Commonwealth Literature. Bombay: Somania Publications, 1984.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Rev. and extended edition. London: Verso, 1991.

Appadurai, Arjun. 'Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.' Public Culture 2 (Spring, 1990).

Asante, Molefi K. The Afrocentric Idea. New rev. edition. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1987.

Ashcroft, Bill, et al. The Empire Writes Back. London: Routledge, 1989.

Barker, Francis, et al., eds. Europe and its Others (Vol. 2). Colchester: University of Essex, 1985.

Bernal, Martin. Black Athena: The African Roots of Western Civilization. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987 & 1991.

Bhabha, Homi, ed. Nation and Narration. London: Routledge, 1990.

Carchidi, V., Come Into My Web: Literary Postcolonialism in the Information Technology Age. Paper submitted for the First International Conference on Postcolonial Theory. Singapore, 1997.

Cheyfitz, Eric. The Poetics of Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Das Gupta, Monisha. 'Dissonances'. DISSONANCE: A Journal of Things That Do Not Fit (September 30, 1996).

Diop, Cheikh Ante. Precolonial Black Africa (trans. Harold J. Salemson). Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill, 1987.

Du Bois, W. E. B. The World and Africa. New York: International Publishers, 1965.

Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth (trans. Constance Farrington). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967.

---. Black Skins, White Masks (trans. Charles Lam Markmann). London: Pluto Press, 1986.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African American Literary Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

---. Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

---. Black Literature and Literary Theory. New York: Methuen, 1984.

Guneratne, Anthony. The Virtual Spaces Of Postcoloniality: Rushdie, Ondaatje, Naipaul, Bakhtin and the Others. Paper submitted for the First International Conference on Postcolonial Theory. Singapore, 1997.

Gupta, Anthea Fraser. The Internet & the English Language Paper submitted for the First International Conference on Postcolonial Theory. Singapore, 1997.

Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797. London: Methuen, 1986.

James, C. L. R. Beyond a Boundary. London: Hutchinson, 1963.

---. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. London: Allison & Busby, 1980.

Loomba, Ania. Gender, Race and Renaissance Drama. Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1989.

McClintock, Anne. 'The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term "Post-Colonialism".' Social Text 31/32 (Spring, 1992).

Miyoshi, Masao. 'A Borderless World? From Colonialism to Transnationalism and the Decline of the Nation State.' Critical Inquiry 19 (1993): 726-751.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Random House, 1979.

Spivak, Gayatri. The Postcolonial Critic. New York: Routledge, 1990.

---. In Other Worlds. New York: Routledge, 1987.

---. Outside in the Teaching Machine. London: Routledge, 1993.

Williams, Patrick, and Laura Chrisman. Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Yeghiayan, Eddie (comp). 'Reviews of Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism (1993)'. http://sun3.lib.uci.edu/indiv/scctr/Wellek/said/book15.html#xtocid11165

Young, Robert. White Mythologies. London: Routledge, 1990.

---. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race. London: Routledge, 1995.