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ENGL301: Introduction to Literary Theory

Unit 7: Context, Culture, and the Other   In this unit, you will explore theoretical paradigms that propose that literary meaning is constructed only through an awareness of the cultural and historical context or situation in which it was written. You will explore concepts related to postcolonialism, examine the principles of New Historicism, and consider the critical concept of othernessin literary theory and throughout world literatures.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 15.5 hours.
☐    Subunit 7.1: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 7.1.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 7.1.2: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 7 hours ☐    Subunit 7.2.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3: 4.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.3.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.3.3: 2 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define and describe New Historicism;
  • define the concept of the Other;
  • account for and describe the concept of postcolonialism as both a historical period and a school of literary criticism and theory;
  • compare and contrast postcolonial studies with the fields of ethnic and cultural studies; and
  • discuss ideas and theories related to the concepts of Eurocentrism, imperialism, alterity, cultural hybridity, and double consciousness.

7.1 New Historicism   7.1.1 Basic Concepts and Practices   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “New Historicism” and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “New Historicism”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary Theory*: [“New
Historicism”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/New-Historicism.pdf) (HTML)
and The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory*
Coursepack: [“New
Historicism”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-New-Historicism.pdf) (PDF)  

 Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the entire
*Glossary of Literary Theory* article on *New Historicism* for an
introduction to this school of literary theory. The Saylor
Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory* Coursepack may be
downloaded at the top of this course, or the section titled “New
Historicism” may be downloaded from the link above. Read the section
and answer the study questions provided at the end of the section.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
questions: How does *New Historicism* characterize history? What
main ideas do New Historicist critics share?  
    
 Reading these sections should take approximately 1 hour to
complete.  

 Terms of Use: The linked material from the *Glossary of Literary
Theory* above has been reposted by the kind permission of Greig E.
Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be viewed in its original
form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/New_historicism.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 19: The New Historicism”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 19: The New Historicism” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 53-minute lecture. Note that a transcript, audio MP3 file, and QuickTime and Flash versions of the video lecture are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following question: How does New Historicism differ from traditional historicism?

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

7.1.2 New Historicism versus Traditional Historicism   - Reading: The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Vince Brewton’s “New Historicism and Cultural Materialism”

Link: The University of Tennessee’s *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy: *Dr. Vince Brewton’s [“New Historicism and Cultural
Materialism”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/literary/#H6) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Read the short encyclopedia section titled “New
Historicism and Cultural Materialism.” Pay particular attention to
how New Historicism developed out of traditional historicism.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
What cultural, political, and social forces gave rise to New
Historicism?  
    
 Reading this section should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

7.1.3 Text, Culture, and Power Relations   - Reading: Project Gutenberg’s version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet; and The University of California Los Angeles’s version of Anthropoetics 7, no. 1 (2001): Dr. Peter Goldman’s “Hamlet’s Ghost: A Review Article”

Link: Project Gutenberg’s
[version](http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext00/0ws2610.txt) of
William Shakespeare’s *Hamlet* (HTML); and The University of
California Los Angeles’s version of *Anthropoetics* 7, no. 1 (2001):
Dr. Peter Goldman’s [“Hamlet’s Ghost: A Review
Article”](http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap0701/hamlet.htm) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the entire text
of *Hamlet*, followed by Dr. Goldman’s journal article titled
“Hamlet’s Ghost: A Review Article,” which is a critical response to
New Historicist Stephen Greenblatt’s book *Hamlet in Purgatory*.
Goldman’s critique of Greenblatt’s book provides an excellent review
of the assets - as well as the potential problems - of New
Historical criticism.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following
questions: How does Goldman understand the role of the ghost in
*Hamlet,as expressed in the opening paragraph of his review essay*?
Goldman provides an extensive overview of Stephen Greenblatt’s
argument about the Ghost; what makes Greenblatt’s argument New
Historical, and not simply historical, in its approach?  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

7.1.4 Subversive Alternatives and the Other   7.2 Postcolonialism   7.2.1 Edward Said, Eurocentrism, and Imperialism   - Reading: The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Vince Brewton’s “Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial Criticism;” Lehigh University: Dr. Amardeep Singh’s “An Introduction to Edward Said, Orientalism, and Postcolonial Literary Studies;” and Emory University: Dr. Deepika Bahri’s “Introduction to Postcolonial Studies”

Link: The University of Tennessee’s *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy: *Dr. Vince Brewton’s [“Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial
Criticism”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/literary/#H7) (HTML); Lehigh
University: Dr. Amardeep Singh’s [“An Introduction to Edward Said,
Orientalism, and Postcolonial Literary
Studies”](http://www.lehigh.edu/%7Eamsp/2004/09/introduction-to-edward-said.html) (HTML);
and Emory University: Dr. Deepika Bahri’s [“Introduction to
Postcolonial
Studies”](http://english.emory.edu/Bahri/Intro.html) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the *Internet
Encyclopedia of Philosophy* entry on ethnic studies and postcolonial
criticism, followed by Dr. Singh’s and Dr. Bahri’s articles, for
basic introductory information about Orientalism and postcolonial
studies.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
What is *Orientalism*? How does the field of postcolonial theory
attempt to work with the implications of Orientalism?  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 22: Postcolonial Criticism”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 22: Postcolonial Criticism” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch Dr. Fry’s 55-minute lecture, which discusses issues of importance in Edward Said’s book Orientalism. Note that a transcript, audio MP3 file, and QuickTime and Flash versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above. 

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following questions: What are the problems that arise when we attempt to frame postcolonial theory? In what ways do postcolonial studies engage with questions of globalization and transnationalism?
     
    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

7.2.2 Alterity and the Concept of the Other in Literature   - Reading: Emory University: Dr. Deepika Bahri’s “Introduction to Postcolonial Studies” and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Postcolonial Theory”

Link: Emory University: Dr. Deepika Bahri’s [“Introduction to
Postcolonial
Studies”](http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Intro.html) and The
Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory* Coursepack:
[“Postcolonial
Theory”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-Post-Colonial.pdf) (PDF)  
    
 Instructions: Begin by re-reading Deepika Bahri’s “Introduction to
Postcolonial Studies” for a review of the basic concepts of
postcolonial theory. As you read this time, pay particular attention
to the mentions of *otherness*, considering how this concept relates
to literary theory. The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to
Literary Theory* Coursepack may be downloaded at the top of this
course, or the section titled “Postcolonial Theory” may be
downloaded from the link above. Please read that section and answer
the study questions provided at the end of the section.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
question: What specific questions does postcolonial theory raise
that are relevant to the study of literature?  

Reading these sections should take approximately 1.5 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

7.2.3 Cultural Hybridity in Literature   - Reading: Project Gutenberg’s version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (Chapters 1-3); Central Oregon Community College’s version of Chinua Achebe’s “An Image of Africa;” and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Applying Theory to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”

Link: Project Gutenberg’s version of Joseph Conrad’s [*Heart of
Darkness* (Chapters
1-3)](http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/526/pg526.html) (HTML);
Central Oregon Community College’s version of Chinua Achebe’s [“An
Image of
Africa”](http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/eng109/achebeonconrad.htm) (HTML);
and The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory*
Coursepack: [*“Applying Theory to Joseph Conrad’s* *Heart of
Darkness”*](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-Applying-Theory-to-Joseph-Conrad.pdf) (PDF)  
    
 Instructions: Begin with chapters 1-3 of Joseph Conrad’s *Heart of
Darkness*, a text that is often viewed through a postcolonial lens.
As you read, pay close attention to the construction of the *Other*
in the text. The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary
Theory* Coursepack may be downloaded at the top of this course, or
the section titled “Applying Theory to Joseph Conrad's *Heart of
Darkness*” may be downloaded from the link above. Read that section
and answer the study questions provided at the end of the section.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
questions: What is Achebe’s main critical concern regarding *Heart
of Darkness*? What reasons does Achebe give for characterizing
*Heart of Darkness* as a novel with racist ideology? Does the
historical context of the novel impact our reading of the novel
and/or Conrad’s intentions?  

 Reading these sections should take approximately 2.5 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

7.3 Ethnic Studies   7.3.1 Approaches to Representations of Ethnic Identities in Majority Culture   - Reading: The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Vince Brewton’s “Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial Criticism”

Link: The University of Tennessee’s *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy: *Dr. Vince Brewton’s [“Ethnic Studies and Postcolonial
Criticism”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/literary/) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Review the encyclopedia entry titled “Ethic Studies
and Postcolonial Criticism,” this time focusing on the entry’s
discussion of ethnic criticism.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
question: What are the main critical goals of postcolonial
criticism?  

 Reading this entry should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

7.3.2 Traditions of Eurocentrism and Questions of Canon   - Reading: Mrbauld.com’s version of Harold Bloom’s “An Elegy for the Canon;” “Bloom’s Elegy - Part Two;” and “Bloom’s Elegy - Conclusion”

Link: Mrbauld.com’s version of Harold Bloom’s [“An Elegy for the
Canon”](http://www.mrbauld.com/elegy1.html) (HTML); [“Bloom’s
Elegy - Part Two”](http://www.mrbauld.com/elegy2.html) (HTML); and
[“Bloom’s Elegy -
Conclusion”](http://www.mrbauld.com/elegy3.html) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read Bloom’s essay “An Elegy for the Canon,” exerpted
from his book *The Western Canon*.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
What are some of the challenges faced in the study of African
American literature? What is Harold Bloom’s attitude toward studying
ethnic literature? Why does he refer to his article as an “elegy”?  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

7.3.3 W.E.B. DuBois and the Double Consciousness Concept   - Reading: W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk: “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” Link: W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk: “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read DuBois’s essay “Of Our Spiritual Strivings,” from his book The Souls of Black Folk, in which DuBois describes the feeling of looking at himself through the eyes of others, an experience that leads to Du Bois’sconcept of double consciousness. This notion of a double consciousness has served as the basis for a number of more contemporary theories on ethnic identity.
 
Following your reading, consider answering the following questions: What does Du Bois mean by the phrase double consciousness? How has this concept been demonstrated in African American literature?
 
Reading this essay should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 21: African-American Criticism” Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 21: African-American Criticism” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 54-minute lecture for a discussion of Toni Morrison’s ideas on ethnic heritage. Note that a transcript, audio MP3 file, and QuickTime and Flash versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.
     
    Consider answering the following questions as you watch the lecture: How does African American criticism differ from other forms of criticism? What are the goals of African American criticism?
     
    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.