Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature


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Critical Race Theory (1970s-present)

Neda Atanasoski, Feminist Studies Race and technology; cultural studies; critical race and ethnic studies; postsocialism; human rights and humanitarianism; war and nationalism; religion and secularism. Vilashini Cooppan, Literature Postcolonial studies; comparative and world literature; literatures of slavery and diaspora; globalization studies; cultural theory of race and ethnicity. Christine Hong, Literature Asian American literature and cultural criticism; African American literature and black freedom studies; Korean diasporic cultural production; Pacific Rim studies; postcolonial theory; critical race theory; human rights discourse; law and literature; narrative theory; film and visual studies.

Nick Mitchell, Feminist Studies Black feminist thought and praxis; critical theory; critical university studies; epistemology and discipline formation; feminist theory; intellectual history. Ronaldo Wilson, Literature 20th-century and contemporary African American literature; poetry; contemporary American poetry and poetics; Black visual culture; recent experimental writers and artists. Karen Yamashita, Literature History and anthropology of Japanese immigration to Brazil; Asian American literature; modern fiction; playwriting.

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Mark Anderson, Anthropology Racial formation, diaspora, nationalism, transnationalism, culture and power; Latin America, African diaspora. David Anthony, History African and African American history, art, music, literature, and cinema; eastern and southern Africa; African languages; Indian Ocean world; African and African American linkages; Islamic civilization; African diaspora studies; world history. Bettina Aptheker, Feminist Studies Feminist oral history and memoir; feminist pedagogy; African American feminist history; queer studies; feminist Jewish studies; feminist critical race studies.

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Anjali Arondekar, Feminist Studies South Asian studies, colonial historiography; feminist theories; queer theory; critical race studies; 19th-century interdisciplinary studies. Noriko Aso, History Japanese social, intellectual, and cultural history, material culture, colonialism, nationalism, gender, race and ethnicity. Karen Bassi, Literature Greek and Latin literatures; gender; literary and cultural theory; pre- and early modern studies; historiography; visual and performance studies.

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Dorian Bell, Literature Nineteenth- and 20th-century French literature and intellectual history; histories of empire and anti-Semitism; literature and science; film studies; digital humanities. David Brundage, History American immigration history, with particular focus on the Irish in America and on transnational immigrant politics; U. Nancy Chen, Anthropology Medical anthropology, visual anthropology, urban anthropology, Asian American identity, mental health, food, China.

Alan Christy, History Early modern and modern Japan; history of social sciences, colonialism, nationalism. Christopher Connery, Literature World literature and cultural studies; globalism and geographical thought; the s; Marxism; pre-modern and modern Chinese cultural studies; cultural revolution.

Cynthia Cruz, Education Feminist ethnography; community-based learning; decolonial pedagogies; LGBTQ street youth; women of color thought; cultural studies and education.

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

Jon Daehnke, Anthropology Archaeology of the North American Pacific Coast, cultural heritage politics and law, contemporary Native American politics, human-environment interaction, landscape and place, collaborative methodologies, NAGPRA implementation and compliance, public representations of heritage and memory. Gina Dent, Feminist Studies Africana literary and cultural studies, legal theory, popular culture. Jennifer Derr, History Colonial and Post-colonial Middle Eastern history; Egypt; agricultural and environmental history; Ottoman history; spatial politics; African history; Islamic history.

Dana Frank, History Late 19th- and 20th-century U. Carla Freccero, Literature Renaissance studies; French and Italian language and literature; early modern studies; postcolonial theories and literature; contemporary feminist theories and politics; queer theory; U. Lastly, literary theory in recent years has sought to explain the degree to which the text is more the product of a culture than an individual author and in turn how those texts help to create the culture.

Literary theory refers to any principles derived from internal analysis of literary texts or from knowledge external to the text that can be applied in multiple interpretive situations. All critical practice regarding literature depends on an underlying structure of ideas in at least two ways: theory provides a rationale for what constitutes the subject matter of criticism—"the literary"—and the specific aims of critical practice—the act of interpretation itself.

For example, to speak of the "unity" of Oedipus the King explicitly invokes Aristotle's theoretical statements on poetics. Critics that explain the climactic drowning of Edna Pontellier in The Awakening as a suicide generally call upon a supporting architecture of feminist and gender theory. The structure of ideas that enables criticism of a literary work may or may not be acknowledged by the critic, and the status of literary theory within the academic discipline of literary studies continues to evolve.

Literary theory and the formal practice of literary interpretation runs a parallel but less well known course with the history of philosophy and is evident in the historical record at least as far back as Plato. The Cratylus contains a Plato's meditation on the relationship of words and the things to which they refer. Modern literary theory gradually emerges in Europe during the nineteenth century. In one of the earliest developments of literary theory, German "higher criticism" subjected biblical texts to a radical historicizing that broke with traditional scriptural interpretation.

This dispute was taken up anew by the French theorist Roland Barthes in his famous declaration of the "Death of the Author. Nietzsche's critique of knowledge has had a profound impact on literary studies and helped usher in an era of intense literary theorizing that has yet to pass. Attention to the etymology of the term "theory," from the Greek "theoria," alerts us to the partial nature of theoretical approaches to literature. This is precisely what literary theory offers, though specific theories often claim to present a complete system for understanding literature.

The current state of theory is such that there are many overlapping areas of influence, and older schools of theory, though no longer enjoying their previous eminence, continue to exert an influence on the whole. The once widely-held conviction an implicit theory that literature is a repository of all that is meaningful and ennobling in the human experience, a view championed by the Leavis School in Britain, may no longer be acknowledged by name but remains an essential justification for the current structure of American universities and liberal arts curricula.

The moment of "Deconstruction" may have passed, but its emphasis on the indeterminacy of signs that we are unable to establish exclusively what a word means when used in a given situation and thus of texts, remains significant. Many critics may not embrace the label "feminist," but the premise that gender is a social construct, one of theoretical feminisms distinguishing insights, is now axiomatic in a number of theoretical perspectives. While literary theory has always implied or directly expressed a conception of the world outside the text, in the twentieth century three movements—"Marxist theory" of the Frankfurt School, "Feminism," and "Postmodernism"—have opened the field of literary studies into a broader area of inquiry.

Marxist approaches to literature require an understanding of the primary economic and social bases of culture since Marxist aesthetic theory sees the work of art as a product, directly or indirectly, of the base structure of society. Feminist thought and practice analyzes the production of literature and literary representation within the framework that includes all social and cultural formations as they pertain to the role of women in history.

Postmodern thought consists of both aesthetic and epistemological strands. Postmodernism in art has included a move toward non-referential, non-linear, abstract forms; a heightened degree of self-referentiality; and the collapse of categories and conventions that had traditionally governed art. Postmodern thought has led to the serious questioning of the so-called metanarratives of history, science, philosophy, and economic and sexual reproduction. Under postmodernity, all knowledge comes to be seen as "constructed" within historical self-contained systems of understanding.

Marxist, feminist, and postmodern thought have brought about the incorporation of all human discourses that is, interlocking fields of language and knowledge as a subject matter for analysis by the literary theorist. Using the various poststructuralist and postmodern theories that often draw on disciplines other than the literary—linguistic, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and philosophical—for their primary insights, literary theory has become an interdisciplinary body of cultural theory.

Taking as its premise that human societies and knowledge consist of texts in one form or another, cultural theory for better or worse is now applied to the varieties of texts, ambitiously undertaking to become the preeminent model of inquiry into the human condition. Literary theory is a site of theories: some theories, like "Queer Theory," are "in;" other literary theories, like "Deconstruction," are "out" but continue to exert an influence on the field.


  1. Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.
  2. Additional information?
  3. Cuentos y relatos de Primi (Spanish Edition).
  4. The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth, Volume 2.
  5. Mozart: A Life in Letters: A Life in Letters (Penguin Classics).
  6. The Boy and the Sockmonster.
  7. African American Studies and Postcolonialism.

The other schools of literary theory, to varying degrees, embrace a postmodern view of language and reality that calls into serious question the objective referent of literary studies. The following categories are certainly not exhaustive, nor are they mutually exclusive, but they represent the major trends in literary theory of this century. Academic literary criticism prior to the rise of "New Criticism" in the United States tended to practice traditional literary history: tracking influence, establishing the canon of major writers in the literary periods, and clarifying historical context and allusions within the text.

Postcolonialism and Multiculturalism: Between Race and Ethnicity

Literary biography was and still is an important interpretive method in and out of the academy; versions of moral criticism, not unlike the Leavis School in Britain, and aesthetic e. Perhaps the key unifying feature of traditional literary criticism was the consensus within the academy as to the both the literary canon that is, the books all educated persons should read and the aims and purposes of literature. What literature was, and why we read literature, and what we read, were questions that subsequent movements in literary theory were to raise. The work of the Formalists had a general impact on later developments in "Structuralism" and other theories of narrative.

The Formalists placed great importance on the literariness of texts, those qualities that distinguished the literary from other kinds of writing. Neither author nor context was essential for the Formalists; it was the narrative that spoke, the "hero-function," for example, that had meaning. Form was the content. A plot device or narrative strategy was examined for how it functioned and compared to how it had functioned in other literary works. The Formalist adage that the purpose of literature was "to make the stones stonier" nicely expresses their notion of literariness.

Literary language, partly by calling attention to itself as language, estranged the reader from the familiar and made fresh the experience of daily life. The "New Criticism," so designated as to indicate a break with traditional methods, was a product of the American university in the s and 40s. Eliot, though not explicitly associated with the movement, expressed a similar critical-aesthetic philosophy in his essays on John Donne and the metaphysical poets, writers who Eliot believed experienced a complete integration of thought and feeling. Wimsatt placed a similar focus on the metaphysical poets and poetry in general, a genre well suited to New Critical practice.


  • Satisfaction: A Short Story About Hand-to-Hand Combat and Other Aspects of Marriage.
  • Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.
  • Different Kinds of Emotions.
  • Perhaps the enduring legacy of "New Criticism" can be found in the college classroom, in which the verbal texture of the poem on the page remains a primary object of literary study. Marxist literary theories tend to focus on the representation of class conflict as well as the reinforcement of class distinctions through the medium of literature. Marxist theorists use traditional techniques of literary analysis but subordinate aesthetic concerns to the final social and political meanings of literature. Marxist theorist often champion authors sympathetic to the working classes and authors whose work challenges economic equalities found in capitalist societies.

    In keeping with the totalizing spirit of Marxism, literary theories arising from the Marxist paradigm have not only sought new ways of understanding the relationship between economic production and literature, but all cultural production as well. Marxist analyses of society and history have had a profound effect on literary theory and practical criticism, most notably in the development of "New Historicism" and "Cultural Materialism. The Hungarian theorist Georg Lukacs contributed to an understanding of the relationship between historical materialism and literary form, in particular with realism and the historical novel.

    Walter Benjamin broke new ground in his work in his study of aesthetics and the reproduction of the work of art. The Frankfurt School of philosophers, including most notably Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse—after their emigration to the United States—played a key role in introducing Marxist assessments of culture into the mainstream of American academic life.

    webmail.openpress.alaska.edu/9757-chica-que-busca.php These thinkers became associated with what is known as "Critical theory," one of the constituent components of which was a critique of the instrumental use of reason in advanced capitalist culture. Eagleton is known both as a Marxist theorist and as a popularizer of theory by means of his widely read overview, Literary Theory.

    Lentricchia likewise became influential through his account of trends in theory, After the New Criticism. Jameson is a more diverse theorist, known both for his impact on Marxist theories of culture and for his position as one of the leading figures in theoretical postmodernism. Like the "New Criticism," "Structuralism" sought to bring to literary studies a set of objective criteria for analysis and a new intellectual rigor. Like Plato, Saussure regarded the signifier words, marks, symbols as arbitrary and unrelated to the concept, the signified, to which it referred.

    Within the way a particular society uses language and signs, meaning was constituted by a system of "differences" between units of the language. Particular meanings were of less interest than the underlying structures of signification that made meaning itself possible, often expressed as an emphasis on "langue" rather than "parole. Greimas, Gerard Genette, and Barthes. The philosopher Roland Barthes proved to be a key figure on the divide between "Structuralism" and "Poststructuralism.

    The most important theorist of "Deconstruction," Jacques Derrida, has asserted, "There is no getting outside text," indicating a kind of free play of signification in which no fixed, stable meaning is possible. Other tendencies in the moment after "Deconstruction" that share some of the intellectual tendencies of "Poststructuralism" would included the "Reader response" theories of Stanley Fish, Jane Tompkins, and Wolfgang Iser.

    Lacanian psychoanalysis, an updating of the work of Sigmund Freud, extends "Postructuralism" to the human subject with further consequences for literary theory. According to Lacan, the fixed, stable self is a Romantic fiction; like the text in "Deconstruction," the self is a decentered mass of traces left by our encounter with signs, visual symbols, language, etc.

    Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature
    Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature
    Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature
    Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature
    Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Literature

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