How has post-colonial theory and criticism developed, especially in the light of globalisation and the changing nature of national identity?
Salmon Rushdie wrote a famous essay entitled "Commonwealth Literature Does Not Exist", published in his collection of essays "Imaginary Homelands". Though still used by a prestigous journal and occasionally in other circumstances, the term "Commonwealth Literature" has been largely displaced by the politically less contentious though historically inaccurate "post-colonial writing", with blander options such as "international literature in English" and "Anglophone literature" occasionally prefered. But is this re-naming of the brand nothing more than technological musical chairs? Does the discipline exist at all? Does the uncertainty over the last forty years about what to call itself betoken a lack of substance in the concept itself? This conference asks whether the notion of a post-colonial literature has imploded, too large and catchall, too unfocused and too readily admitting any text within its purview.
This is very much a writer-focused conference, in which the cross-currents between authors and their critics and readers will be central. It will examine what it is like to be writing in Britain on post-colonial themes or with that authorial label. For anyone teaching, researching or writing in this field it is an opportunity to look at fundamental questions concerning its future.
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