March 04, 2012

Questions for week 9

For the seminar this week think about the following questions:

  • What do you make of the critique of Western feminism in light of our reading in term 1?
  • What developments and continuities are there with other feminist theorists we have studied?
  • What developments and continuities can you identify with the postcolonial criticism we have studied?

February 26, 2012

Preparation for week 8 seminar

In preparation for the seminar on Stuart Hall, you might want to watch this clip from a lecture of Hall talking about race as "the floating signifier":

Questions for the seminar:

  • how does Hall conceptualize the notion of racial identity and, more widely, subject identity?
  • How does The Buddha of Suburbia engage with this?
  • What currents can you identify with other theorists? In particular, you might want to think back to Judith Butler's notion of performativity.

February 23, 2012

Essay writing resources

The essay titles for the next Modes of Reading essay are here

Here is the essay writing guide from last term: essay_writing_guide.pdf

I wrote a blog on MLA referencing guidelines, alternatively you can download this copy: referencing_guide.pdf

The full department guidelines on essay writing are listed here.

Anything else, just ask!

Edward Said resources

On postcolonial theory in general, some useful resources include Emory's Postcolonial pages as well as the Postcolonial web resource; go here for the section on Said. The Guardian's obituary offers some useful context and draws out important elements of his other works.

This video includes Said discussing the main ideas of Orientalism:

February 19, 2012

week 7 questions

Read the extract from Said's Orientalism (Lodge 21) and think about the following questions:

  • What is "orientalism"? Can you think of any examples in literature or other cultural forms of orientalist discourses?
  • A theme running through much of the theory we've done is the question of the relationship between text and reality; how does this appear in Said's essay?
  • How does The Buddha of Suburbia address the questions raised by Said? Identify and think about one key example from the text.

February 05, 2012

Hanif Kureishi resources

Here are some resources for background info on Hanif Kureishi and The Buddha of Suburbia

Hanif Kureishi's official website includes unpublished short stories and essays by the author- particularly relevant is the essay "The Boy in the Bedroom" which discusses the writing and making of The Buddha of Suburbia TV series. A timeline shows where the novel fits with other works.

The 1993 TV series, with Naveen Andrews as Karim and soundtrack by David Bowie, is available on DVD in the library; the title song incorporates many clips from the film so gives a sense of the styles and places of the novel:

The Contemporary Writers section on Hanif Kureishi provides biographical information, as well as a critical perspective that is useful for critically situating Buddha amongst Kureishi's other work and drawing out the significant themes that recur.

Finally, the Postcolonial Web has a page on Kureishi- the short essay "The Legitimising of His/Her-stories in The Buddha of Suburbia" is relevant to some of the ideas we'll be thinking about throughout the rest of the unit.

Questions for week 5


As we enter into this final stretch of the module this week, commencing the last unit with Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia, I want to return to the critical questions with which we started in the first lecture of the first term. In preparation for the seminar, think about the following as a framework for your reading of Buddha:

  • What cultural problem is being set up?
  • Why might readers at a particular time and place find this work compelling?
  • Are there differences between my values and the values implicit in the text?
  • What kind of cultural intervention is this text making?
  • How does this text position me as a reader?
  • What is the text setting up as “normative”? And what is set against this as “different”?

January 29, 2012

Questions for week 4 seminar


Think about the following questions for week 4:

  • What is a place? What do we mean by “place” and “sense of place”?

    o Think about such factors as: geography/location; material/physical components; cultural meanings; individual and collective identity; memory; imagination and representation. How do these interact, and do any take significance?

  • Think about the words

    o city


    o nation

    o England

    o abroad

  • What do they stand for in The Lonely Londoners? What different historical resonances might these words have in 1950s Britain?

  • What is the relationship between place and language? (you might find the map above interesting in connection with this - click to enlarge)

January 22, 2012

Questions for week 3 seminar

Questions to think about for the week 3 seminar:

  • Jameson starts by talking about the erosion of distinctions between high and mass culture, stating that "this is perhaps the most distressing development of all from an academic standpoint, which has traditionally had a vested interest in preserving a realm of high or elite culture against the surrounding environment..." (543). What do you make of this statement? Is there value in such distinctions or can the "breakdown" be interpreted positively from "an academic standpoint"?
  • How do parody and pastiche differ? Write a short summary (2-3 sentences) of Jameson's theory of each, and see if you can think of any examples (either from Lonely Londoners or other texts/films/etc)
  • Is The Lonely Londoners a postmodernist text?

January 15, 2012

Questions on The Lonely Londoners

Questions to prepare for the week 2 seminar:

  • Williams starts by saying that "'country' and 'city' are very powerful words, and this is not surprising when we remember how much they seem to stand for in the experience of human communities": what meanings accrue around "the city" in The Lonely Londoners and what is the significance of the city?
  • The country/city binary is not present in Lonely Londoners, but we do see other places set up against the city. What other places are important in the novel, and how are these situated in relation to the city?
  • The Spivak piece extends some of the ideas around perspective we introduced in week 1. Spivak states that "no one can quite articulate the space she herself inhabits. My attempt has been to describe this relatively ungraspable space in terms of what might be its history". What do you make of this comment in the context of The Lonely Londoners?

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