Culture and Imperialism

Culture and Imperialism

In Culture and Imperialism, the postcolonial theorist Edward Said writes: “For the enterprise of empire depends upon the idea of having an empire…and all kinds of preparations are made for it within a culture; then in turn imperialism acquires a kind of coherence, a set of experiences, and a presence of ruler and ruled alike within the culture” (10). Said considers, here, the complex relationships among the “enterprise of empire,” the idea of empire, and culture. In postcolonial studies, writers and theorists are concerned with understanding the continuing relationship between culture and “postcolonialism,” long after the imperial power has left. In other words, in contemporary culture, the mark of empire remains in these previously imperial centers. Write a paper in which you explore the mark or culture of empire in Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. Consider any number of the following questions: Ultimately, is Conrad critiquing empire and the project of imperialism? Or is he complicit in dehumanizing African people? Is, as Achebe argues, the cost of Conrad’s inhumane representation too great for African individuals? Consider how this novella, until very recently, has been read primarily as an exploration of the European mind—is this the continued work of empire? That it is possible to read Heart of Darkness without paying attention to the ways in which African bodies are objectified and dehumanized?


Please write a 5 to 7 page (double spaced, 12pt font, MLA, one-inch margins, etc.) paper on one the topics listed below – your Works Cited does not count towards your number of pages. In other words, you need to have five to seven pages of written prose plus a Works Cited page at the end of your paper. Your paper should consider primarily one of the literary texts we have read so far this semester and include one scholarly source to complicate your argument. Please use any one of the supplemental readings we have covered in class so far this semester (the Said, the Achebe, the Phillips, for example), but I want your paper to consider, primarily, one of the texts we have read so far this semester. Your paper should possess a thesis statement, have a solid organizational structure, show elegant use of specific textual evidence, and be presented in a clear writing style. These are the components of writing on which your paper will be assessed.

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