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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Trying not to panic

I feel like all my blog titles sound like little cries for help lately. They aren't really, I just have no idea what to title a blog entry and I hate leaving them blank. Being faced with that little title line is so stressful. Actually sometimes it dissuades me from writing a blog entry. I crumble under the pressure of having to produce so many titles.

Anyhow, in light of not really knowing what to do, I have been searching through the few field study blogs that I know of to see if I can figure out what I am supposed to be doing. Luckily Matt Merrill who went to MacLeod Ganj or however you spell it posted what I think is the worksheet I am supposed to have filled out. As far as I can tell, this blog is the online portfolio? I have no idea. I will assume so.

Anyhow, so here we are. Here is my first analysis thingy. I am not terribly pleased with it. I do not think I go into enough detail. Now that they mention it, I would sort of like to go back and examine the sources they use in more detail as well as break down the themes/ideas in the book. Although I suppose that is basically the desire I already had when I decided I needed to re-read it. Oh well. And actually I won't make you read it, so if you want to, you can see it after the jump. Also they say I need tags. Blast it, I am not ready! Oh well, this weekend I shall do it, since I must, I suppose.

The Empire Writes Back
Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.

1. What is the stated purpose (the argument or thesis)?

This book works as a primer for the topic of post-colonial literature/studies in English. To boil it down to its essence, it basically explores the topic from many different angles from its history, its development, current issues, its relation to current (especially Western) literary tradition/criticism, and its future. It does not necessarily argue anything specifically, other than the need for the existence of post-colonial studies. It also seeks to set the bounds of post-colonial studies to a degree.

2. What evidence does the author provide to support his or her main argument? How is the author attempting to logically prove his or her thesis and how does this affect the organization of the document?

Throughout the book, the authors collected a huge variety of texts from a sampling of different former colonies across a variety of time periods. They focus exclusively on works written English. Each of these is presented some times as a quote or series of quotes to prove a point and sometimes as a sort of case study. In these case studies, a few works are examined in short almost essays in detail. By quoting a huge variety of texts, the authors work to show how their theories on former colonies exist across cultural boundaries. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of post-colonial studies and then is further broken down into sections focusing on a specific idea or a case study. The examples of text that serve as the evidence basically serve as the lines on which the book is divided.

3. Who is the audience? What does the author assume the audience already knows about the topic?

The audience is technically anyone, but more likely a scholarly one who is just barely beginning their study of post-colonial literature. The book is fairly dense and jumps right into scholarly discussion. The authors assume that the reader has a basic knowledge of literary scholarly terms such as binaries, the other, etc. They also assume a fairly coherent knowledge about all the different literary theories. About the topic itself, the authors assume that the reader does not know much, or at least has never studied the post-colonial literature closely.

4. Describe the author’s methods (i.e. how does the author know what he or she knows). In your opinion, were they appropriate? Why or why not?

The authors’ method is to basically go through post-colonial literature and show how it supports their theories. They perform a series of close analysis of texts to establish a few basic principles and then later examine larger ideas in comparison to other large ideas such as literary critical movements. The methods used are perfectly appropriate to their topic, as they are studying post-colonial literature in English. The examples of literature they use clearly support their ideas and illustrate their points.

5. To what other sources (theorist, researchers, artists) does the author refer? Explain the specific ideas the author draws upon from these other sources to support his or her own argument (the theoretical framework).

There is not really a specific source to which they refer. These authors are somewhat famous for pioneering the field of post-colonial literature. There are no major critics or philosophers on which they could draw. Instead they draw upon the texts themselves as well as some arguments from colonial writers who were sort of proto-post-colonialists before post-colonialism was really a thing. Since these sources are many and most of them are used only a few times, it would be counterproductive to examine each of them in detail. Instead the big theme in most of these was the idea of decolonization. These writers ideas play heavily into the authors’ of The Empire Writes Back theories on the state of post-colonial literature.

6. What are the connections between this source and your project? How useful or applicable is this source’s approach to your own project? How is yours new and different?

This text relates directly to my project, since I will be examining Indian literature. According to their perspective, post-colonial literature encompasses Indian literature in English, thus technically the guiding body of theory over the area I am studying. Their approach is very helpful and provides a great framework for my own investigation of Indian literature. The two big differences between my approach and theirs is that I completely reject their classification of Indian literature as well as the fact that I will be looking at the connection between Indian readers and their literature, rather than just at the literature itself, probably.


  1. Thanks for posting! They'll be recorded into your grades. Mostly, I just want to let everyone know that I am looking at your blogs and am working on getting the grades to you. Yours looks great so far. --Sarah

    1. Okay. Let me know if there are things I can improve. I am anxious to.