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For example, in Things Fall Apart , Achebe details the strife and devastation that occurred when British colonists began moving inland from the Nigerian coast. Rather than glorifying the exploratory nature of European colonists as they expanded their sphere of influence, Achebe narrates the destructive events that led to the death and enslavement of thousands of Nigerians when the British imposed their Imperial government. In turn, Achebe points out the negative effects and shifting ideas of identity and culture caused by the imposition of Western religion and economics on Nigerians during colonial rule.

Post-colonial criticism also questions the role of the Western literary canon and Western history as dominant forms of knowledge making.

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The terms "First World," "Second World," "Third World" and "Fourth World" nations are critiqued by post-colonial critics because they reinforce the dominant positions of Western cultures populating First World status. This critique includes the literary canon and histories written from the perspective of First World cultures.

So, for example, a post-colonial critic might question the works included in "the canon" because the canon does not contain works by authors outside Western culture.

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Moreover, the authors included in the canon often reinforce colonial hegemonic ideology, such as Joseph Conrad. Western critics might consider Heart of Darkness an effective critique of colonial behavior. But post-colonial theorists and authors might disagree with this perspective: " And indeed, Achebe notes, the novel portrays Africans as a pre-historic mass of frenzied, howling, incomprehensible barbarians Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:. On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature makes a powerful intervention in current debates on world literature, arguing for the literary text to be seen as an ethico-political force in the world rather than just a commodity whose global trajectory is best understood in terms of existing networks of influence and exchange.

What Is a World?: On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature by Pheng Cheah

It is a thoughtful, theoretical work that further challenges all of us to reconsider the role literature plays in the world s around us and to assess our inclusion of literature beyond the Western tradition. Undoubtedly, this book will play an important role in the ongoing dialogue over what world literature really is. In doing so, the book makes a significant intervention in the ongoing scholarly debates dedicated to these topics.


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Powerful and provocative, What is a World? A remarkable book.

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Pheng Cheah, "Worlding Literature: Living With Tiger Spirits"

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What Is a World? On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature.

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Book Pages: Illustrations: Published: January Literature opens worlds, he provocatively suggests, because it is a force of receptivity. Praise "Drawing from four critical philosophies—idealism, Marxist materialism, phenomenology, and deconstruction—theorist Pheng Cheah invites the reader to reconsider the presuppositions that underpin contemporary theories about world literature. Hart, Postcolonial Text "Pheng Cheah has contribued an eloquent volume that stands out in the crowd and belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the field.

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Add to cart. Open Access. Request a desk or exam copy. Table of Contents Back to Top. The World of World in Literature in Question 1.