Postcolonial feminist criticism is extensive and variable. This chapter locates the various kinds of patriarchal authority to which women from countries with a history of colonialism may be subjected, and addresses the concept of 'double colonisation'. It looks at postcolonial critiques of 'First World' feminism in thinking about the problems and possibilities when using 'First World' feminism in postcolonial contexts. This involves examining some important and challenging essays by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. The chapter also discusses Spivak's essay 'Can the Subaltern Speak?' which is a complex critique of the representation of human subjectivity in a variety of contexts, but with particular reference to the work of the Subaltern Studiesscholars. Finally, the authors apply some of the ideas and concepts introduced in the chapter when reading Sally Morgan's autobiographical text, My Place.
As with structuralism and post-structuralism, there is a great deal of debate about how modernism and postmodernism differ, the topic this chapter is concerned about. The period of high modernism was from 1910 to 1930, and this chapter begins with some of the important characteristics of literary modernism practiced by various writers of this movement. It summarises the distinction between modernism and postmodernism as in various postmodernist poems, plays and novels. Some of the works of major theorists of postmodernism such as Habermas, Lyotard and Baudrillard, which are considered to be the 'landmarks' in postmodernism, are presented. The chapter describes Baudrillard's four-stage model for signs. It also describes the activities of postmodernists and presents an example of postmodernist criticism, which makes an application of ideas derived from Lyotard. A STOP and THINK section helps readers understand one of the crucial category in Baudrillard's four-stage model, the sign which conceals an absence.
Psychoanalytic criticism is a form of literary criticism which uses some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. This chapter begins by discussing Sigmund Freud's major ideas related to psychoanalysis. It then explains how Freudian interpretation works. A STOP and THINK section in the chapter helps readers understand the logic of Freudian interpretation. Freud's misreading is seen in the case study usually known simply as 'Dora'. The chapter concentrates on a dream which she related to Freud in the course of the treatment. It lists some activities of Freudian psychoanalytic critics and Lacanian critics, and provides examples of Freudian psychoanalytic criticism and Lacanian criticism. Comparing the Freudian and Lacanian examples will make it immediately apparent that there is an immense gulf between these two approaches, even though they both stem from the same original body of Freudian theory.
There were differences of emphasis between lesbian and gay theory, and two major strands of thinking within lesbian theory itself. The first of these is lesbian feminism, which is understood by seeing it initially in the context of its own origins from within feminism. The second is designated as libertarian lesbianism seen as part of the field of 'queer theory' or 'queer studies'. This chapter discusses the nature and development of the thinking designated as lesbian feminism and libertarian lesbianism. It describes the critical activities of queer theorists and presents an example of this kind of criticism taken from the chapter 'The love poetry of the First World War' in Mark Lilly's Gay Men's Literature in the Twentieth Century. A STOP and THINK section provides the reader with some ‘hands-on’ experience with the subject discussed.
The reinterpretation of 'classic' English literary works has become an important area of postcolonialism and has impacted upon all kinds of literary debates, in particular the ongoing disputes about which texts can be considered as possessing 'literary value' and the criteria we use to measure it. This chapter introduces these issues by taking as points of orientation two interrelated themes: the re-reading of literary 'classics', such as Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, in the light of postcolonial scholarship and experience, and the re-writing of received literary texts by postcolonial writers. In the latter context, the chapter looks at two novels: Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea which engages with Brontë's text. STOP and THINK sections in the chapter pose a series of questions about the concepts discussed in the chapter to assist the reader in making judgements about the ideas raised within postcolonialism.
This chapter first looks at Edward W. Said's Orientalism, providing a brief outline of Said's definition of Orientalism in two sections. The first highlights the general shape of the discourse of Orientalism and its manifold manifestations, while the second looks at the set-piece and stereotypical assumptions about cultural difference which it fashions and asserts as truth. Some of the important criticisms of Orientalism are surveyed to gain a sense of how the study of colonial discourses has developed. Then, Homi Bhabha's thought is considered to build a working knowledge of his concepts of 'ambivalence' and 'mimicry' in the operations of colonial discourses. The chapter contains STOP and THINK activities designed to assist readers in delineating his thoughts. It concludes with a critical exploration of a poem from the colonial period that directly addresses colonial life, as Rudyard Kipling's 'The Overland Mail' is considered in the light of the reading strategies.
Though structuralism began in the 1950s and 1960s, it has its roots in the thinking of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Saussure was a key figure in the development of modern approaches to language study. He emphasised that the meanings given to words are purely arbitrary, and that these meanings are maintained by convention only. This chapter examines Saussure's pronouncements about linguistic structures which the structuralists later found so interesting. The other major figure in the early phase of structuralism was Roland Barthes, who applied the structuralist method to the general field of modern culture. The chapter lists the activities of structuralist critics and provides examples on the methods of literary analysis described and demonstrated in Barthes's book S/Z. STOP and THINK sections in the chapter provide the reader with some ‘hands-on’ experience with the subject discussed.
This chapter explores whether stylistics, a critical approach, is really a form of critical theory at all. It presents a historical account of stylistics with emphasis on critical practice rather than critical theory. Stylistics developed in the twentieth century and its aim is to show how the technical linguistic features of a literary work, such as the grammatical structure of its sentences, contribute to its overall meanings and effects. It is the modern version of the ancient discipline known as 'rhetoric'. The chapter describes the specific differences between conventional close reading and stylistics, as well as the ambitions of stylistics. A STOP and THINK section suggests readers to make use of a few basic reference tools in understanding stylistics. The chapter includes some critical activities of stylistic critics and presents three examples of stylistics, each of which uses some technical aspect of language in critical interpretation.
This chapter mentions four general shifts or 'settlements' in the intellectual landscape of theory itself. Firstly, theory has become less willing than hitherto to suspend disbelief in the face of vast and speculative intellectual claims. Secondly, there is evidence of a turning away from the dominant materialism epitomised by British cultural materialism and American new historicism. Thirdly, there has been a marked shift away from the 'linguistic sublime'. Finally, a new kind of cultural critique has arisen in response to extreme events such as 9/11, and the global pessimism which is the product of apparently intractable problems such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the spread of religious fundamentalism, and the relentless progress of environmental deterioration. The chapter looks at five areas of development which beginning-theorists might usefully be aware of: presentism, new aestheticism, cognitive poetics, consilience and 'conciliatory' approaches to literary studies, and posthumanism.
This chapter begins by explaining the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. A STOP and THINK section includes multiple choice questions that indicate the scope of this chapter. F. D. Maurice regarded literature as the particular property of the middle class and the expression of their values. For him the middle class represents the essence of Englishness so middle-class education should be specifically English. The chapter presents a list of the values and beliefs which formed the English subject's half-hidden curriculum. It sketches out a characteristic liberal humanist reading of Edgar Allan Poe's tale 'The Oval Portrait'. The growth of critical theory in the post-war period seems to comprise a series of 'waves', each associated with a specific decade, and all aimed against the liberal humanist consensus.