Welcome to our 'Introduction to Cross-Cultural Theory'.

In this course we will be looking at theoretical texts, literary texts, some linguistic data and information, film clips and a number of images. All these will help us raise and exemplify a number of important cross-cultural issues, which include definitions of culture; the crossing of cultures in history, as it is exemplified by travel, exploration, trade and translation; theories of crossings, translation and hybridity; and issues of globalization, multiculturalism, transnationalism and cosmopolitanism in a modern world.

After this Introduction you will have an overview of what issues we understand as constitutive of cross-cultural studies in English, and you will have encountered a number of relevant theoretical approaches to the field, which will then be revisited and discussed in more detail in the various M.A. courses that follow this Introduction.



Syllabus and reading

1. Theoretical/ Critical Texts

Raymond Williams, Keywords (extract)
Wendy Griswold, Cultures and Societies in a Changing World (extract)
T. S. Eliot, Notes Towards a Definition of Culture (extract)
Formations of Modernity, ed. Stuart Hall and Bram Gieben (extract)
Edward Said, Orientalism (extract)
Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes (extract)
Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (extract)
Homi Bhabha, 'Cultural Diversity and Cultural Differences'
James Clifford, Travel and Translation (extract)
Arjun Appadurai, 'Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy'
Anthony D. Smith, 'Towards a Global Culture?'

2. Literary Texts

Rudyard Kipling, 'Mandalay'
Lady Mary Montagu, The Turkish Embassy Letters (extracts)
Salman Rushdie, East West Stories (extract)
Louise Ho, 'Home to Hong Kong'

A Course Reader containing the relevant extracts from the above texts will be available from the School of English office by mid-August (please check with the School Office on 3917 2749). However, many of the readings are also available online, so you are welcome to go ahead and start reading before the hard copy reaches you. During the semester, you are asked to read ahead for each week so you can contribute to class discussion.


3. Further reading available in the HKU library

Mike Featherstone (ed.), Cultural theory and cultural change (London: Sage, 1992).
Timothy Brennan, At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP, 1997).
Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London and New York: Routledge, 1994).
Robert J. C. Young, Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2003).
Valerie Kennedy, Edward Said : a critical introduction (Cambridge: Polity, 2000).
Patrick Williams (ed.), Edward Said (London: Sage, 2001)
Bill Ashcroft and Pal Ahluwalia, Edward Said (New York: Routledge, 2001).
Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge: CUP, 2002).
Rana Kabbani, Europe's Myth of Orient (London: Pandora, 1986).
Steve Clark (ed.), Travel writing and empire: postcolonial theory in transit (London, New York: ZED Books, 1999).
Casey Blanton, Travel Writing: the Self and the World (New York: Twayne, 1997)
Billie Melman, Women's Orients, English women and the Middle East, 1718-1918 : sexuality, religion, and work (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992).
Howard J. Booth, The Cambridge Companion to Rudyard Kipling (Cambridge: CUP, 2011).
D.C.R.A. Goonetilleke, Salman Rushdie (New York: Palgrave, 2010).
Douglas, Kerr, 'Locating Louise Ho: The Place of English Poetry in Hong Kong', Critical Zone 3: A Forum for Chinese and Western Knowledge, eds. Douglas Kerr, Q. S. Tong and Wang Shouren (Hong Kong and Nanjing: Hong Kong University Press and Nanjing University Press, 2008): 15-36.

The above represents a rather random selection of titles in the area of theory, history, literature and the individual writers we will be dealing with. The list is meant to get you started in your library research and is in no way meant to be a must-read or (heaven forbid!) comprehensive list.




You will be asked to write two critical pieces; one is a reflection piece (1,000 - 1,200 words), the other a critical essay (1,800 - 2,000 words). You will also give a very short presentation early on in the semester and be expected to contribute to the discussion throughout the semester.

Written Assignments: 80%
Oral Contributions: 20%




Teaching and learning schedule

Classes for this course will take place on Mondays, 6.30 to 8.30 p.m., Centennial Campus. There are 11 meetings scheduled; all of these should be attended if possible. Below is a tentative schedule, giving you an idea about the course outline, with its various modules: Note that we have Reading Week from 16-20 October, with no classes scheduled.


Module 1: Culture


Monday 4 September
Concepts and Definitions 1: 'Hong Kong Culture'; R. Williams


Monday 11 September

Concepts and Definitions 2: W. Griswold


Monday 18 September

Concepts and Definitions 3: T.S. Eliot

Module 2: The Age of Discovery

Monday 25 September

Historical Crossings 1: Formations of Modernity; film: 1492


Monday 9 October

Historical Crossings 2: E. Said, R. Kipling


Monday 23 October

Historical Crossings 3: M.L. Pratt, M. Montagu

Module 3: Crossings

Monday 30 October
Theories 1: M. Foucault; film: Lost in Translation

Monday 6 November
Theories 2: H. Bhabha and J Clifford

Module 4: The Global Age

Monday 13 November
Contemporary Crossings 1: S. Rushdie, L. Ho

Monday 20 November

Contemporary Crossings 2: Appadurai


Monday 27 November
Contemporary Crossings 3: A. Smith



Learning Objectives

This course aims to:
1) familiarize students with the following issues and problematics, by progressing:

(a) from definitions of culture and cross-culture to
(b) the history of cross-cultural contact in the age of exploration and the colonial age to
(c) theories to illuminate the cross-cultural contact and phenomena to
(d) the history of cross-cultural contact in our contemporary world;

2) help students contextualize, theorize and historicize a number of issues, themes and phenomena related to cross-cultural studies in English;

3) familiarize students with the intellectual, historical and theoretical move:

(a) from definitions to redefinitions and deconstructions,
(b) from monoculture to cross-culture and multi-culture,
(c)from colonialism to postcolonialism,
(d) from nationalism to transnationalism,
(e) from modernity to postmodernity.

4) help students realise that cross-culturalism in the contemporary world is not a telos, but an ongoing process, forever in flux.

For queries relating to readers, classrooms, contact details etc. please contact the School Office on 3917 2749. For questions on this course please contact your teacher at



Last updated: 18 July 2017