Critical Theory Today Dr. RaniaKhalil KNU - Class # 5 28 June 2011
Why Critical Theory? One of the most important abilities critical theory develops in us is the ability to see connections where we didn’t know they existed such as the connections between our personal psychological conflicts and they way we interpret literature.
Postcolonial Criticism • Postcolonial criticism emerged as a powerful force in literary studies in the early 1990s. • Postcolonial theory offers us a framework for examining the similarities that deal with human oppression such as Marxism; feminism; imperialism; gay, lesbian, and queer theories. • Postcolonial criticism analyzes literature produced by cultures that developed in response to colonial domination.
For English majors – postcolonial criticism focuses on the literature of cultures that developed in response to colonial domination Examples: Literature written in English • Hullabalo in the Guava Orchard • The Black Album • The Gathering
British Imperialism/Colonialism • That so many people formerly colonised by Britain speak English, write in English, use English in their schools and universities, and conduct government business in English in addition to their local language is an indication of the residual effect of colonial domination on their cultures. • Although the colonizers retreated and left the lands they had invaded, decolonization often has been confined largely to the removal of British military forces. What has been left behind is cultural colonization.
Cultural Identity • Postcolonial criticism addresses the problems of cultural identity. • Ex-colonials were often left with a psychological inheritance of a negative self-image and alienation from their own cultures, which had been devalued by the colonist. • Colonisers believed that only their own Anglo-European culture was civilised or what postcolonial critics call metropolitan.
Marginalised / Otherness • Colonizers were at the centre of the world ; the colonized at the margins. • Native people were considered “Other” and therefore inferior and less than human. Today the use of European culture as the standard to which other cultures are negatively contrasted is calledEurocentrism. • Another form of Otherness than Eurocentricism is calledOrientalism.
Colonial Subjects • Many of the people colonised tried to imitate their colonisers, in dress, speech, behavior, and lifestyle. Postcolonial critics refer to this phenomenon as mimicry. • This feeling of being caught in a psychological limbo resulting from the trauma of the cultural displacement is referred too by HomiBhabha as unhomeliness– a cultural identity crisis making the individual a psychological refugee.
Neocolonialism • Today through different means the same kind of political and economic and cultural subjugation of vulnerable nations occurs at the hands of international corporations. • This neocolonialism, as it is called, exploits the cheap labour available in developing countries.
Cultural Imperialism • Cultural imperialism is a direct result of economic domination, consists of the “takeover” of one culture by another: the food, clothing, customs.
Resources • Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today. Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group,1999.