Introduction: tilling the fields of postcolonial literature

Janet M Wilson, Christopher Ringrose

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


The title of this volume embraces the idea of ‘new soundings’ in its double meanings: ‘soundings’ in the sense of exploratory fathoming and plumbing of the ocean depths, and ‘soundings’ in the contemporary sense of sonar registrations of the seabed, made in order to hear and notate the invisible, inaudible life and activity below the surface. The metaphoric connotations of depth charges in the former usage point to the various forms of mapping, of the discoveries and expansions associated with the opening up of what were once conceived as distant lands, as well as the hazards and betrayals entailed in such colonizing. ‘Soundings’, when used in the sense of registering sound shapes and effects, implies metaphorically those acts of communication, whereby the newly charted, discovered worlds transmit their cultures, heritage and voices, receiving in return the mixed messages of those who discover and colonise. For such processes of settlement and entrenchment are fraught with contestation, involving new contact zones, encounters with Indigenous peoples, recognition of racial and ethnic differences and ideological reassessment of the nature of civilisation. The subtitle’s reference to ‘contours’ invokes the new cultural frames that emerge from such forms of contact, and the organising, reshaping and syncretising of what Homi Bhabha has called the ‘spaces between’ cultures that contact/collision provokes. Such new cultural landscaping can be found in the critical and creative writing of the last half century that embodies as well as engages with issues of the postcolonial. The subtitle also refers to the critical essays, poems and stories collected in this volume, all of which are associated with the discipline of postcolonial studies, and might be seen as products of this broad field. Just as the critical contours seek to debate and give wider visibility to postcolonialism’s major contestations, so the book’s creative contours showcase some of the movement’s significant themes and imaginative configurations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Soundings in Postcolonial Writing; Critical and Creative Contours
EditorsJanet Wilson, Christopher Ringrose
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill/ Rodopi
Number of pages296
ISBN (Print)9789004326415
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2016

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