Textual Traffic

Colonialism, Modernity, and the Economy of the Text

By S. Shankar

Subjects: Postcolonial Studies
Series: SUNY series, Explorations in Postcolonial Studies
Paperback : 9780791449929, 243 pages, April 2001
Hardcover : 9780791449912, 243 pages, April 2001

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Table of contents


Preface: Colonial Modernity, Textual Economics, and Travel Narratives


1. Introduction: Textual Economics, the Modern, and the Postmodern

2. Travel Narratives and Gulliver's Travels


3. Into Darkness and Out of It

4. Wright and Wrong in a Land of Pathos

5. V. S. Naipaul, Modernity, and Postcolonial Excrement




SUNY Series, Explorations in Postcolonial Studies

Examines travel narratives as a genre.


In Textual Traffic, S. Shankar clarifies notions of modernity and postmodernity by lucidly examining their relationship to colonialism. In the process, he challenges current emphases in cultural criticism through an exploration of what it means to regard the text as an economy and carries out a detailed scrutiny of travel narratives as a genre.

Paying particular attention to representations of Africa and India, Shankar tracks the historical contours of a colonial modernity in a wide variety of travel narratives—African-American and postcolonial, canonical and filmic—drawn from different periods of the twentieth century. Included are explorations of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men, Richard Wright's Black Power, V. S. Naipaul's India trilogy, and Stephen Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

S. Shankar is Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers University. He is the author of the acclaimed novel, A Map of Where I Live.


"Fresh and provocative. With fluent writing, this book is wide-ranging and up to date in its references and allusions to current controversies. It touches on some of the most controversial topics in contemporary critical theory and cultural studies. " — E. San Juan Jr. , author of Beyond Postcolonial Theory

"Textual Traffic offers important insights into the term 'colonial modernity,' seeing it not merely as a particular modernity produced under colonial regimes but arguing that all modernity is made possible by colonialism. The readings of Hurston and Wright are valuable and original. This book brings together the fields of postcolonial and African-American literary studies. " —Inderpal Grewal, author of Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel