The theme of cross-cultural contact is implicit in all of the courses in the MA in English Studies.  This foundation course prepares students by introducing them to the historical development of literature by studying different authors and genres within diverse cultural contexts. Traditional, western literature will be read alongside other ‘national’ and world literatures from post-colonial and global contexts to examine the sense of interconnectedness between various genres, movements and time periods. The primary texts will be supported by theoretical texts, which attempted to formalize cross-cultural relations through particular historical, ethnographic, literary and linguistic studies of cultural interaction.

Through poetry, short stories, a film and a novel, the course will raise a number of important cross-cultural issues, which include definitions of culture; the crossing of cultures in history; 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 literary texts and theoretical approaches to the field, which will then be revisited and discussed in more detail in the various M.A. electives that follow this Introduction.




  • To understand and utilise critical vocabulary in discussing cross-cultural perspectives and approaches in literature
  • To examine the poetics and politics of world literature
  • To offer contemporary approaches to cross-cultural studies, including theoretical lenses of globalisation and the rise of the g/local text
  • To write effective, argumentative essays comparing different national literatures
  • To be able to communicate one’s ideas cogently in class and on online forums  




There will be two contact hours per week on Wednesdays from 6.30-8.30pm in Room CPD-LG.10. Formal lectures in the first hour will be supplemented by smaller group discussions and presentations in the second.




Short Writing Assignment                                     15%
In-class Exam                                                         25%
Moodle Responses/Attendance/Participation       25%
Final Essay                                                             35%




Most of the readings will be available on Moodle, but the following texts should be purchased from the HKU Bookstore or from other sources (i.e. library,,

  1. David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly
  2. Rana Dasgupta, Tokyo Cancelled

Please note that copies at the bookstore tend to get sold out quickly, so acquire them at the BEGINNING of term. We rely only on hard copies of texts in this course, as eBooks and technology will not be allowed in the lecture room. All other readings from Moodle should be printed out to bring to class.

In addition, we will be covering literary works by Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Coleridge, Salman Rushdie, Edgar Allen Poe, Rabindranath Tagore, Chinua Achebe, Alexander Pushkin and Louise Ho

Theoretical texts will include Franco Moretti, Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabha, Mary Louise Pratt, Edward Said, Arjun Appadurai, and others.

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).
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.  

For questions on this course please contact your instructor at



Last updated: 18 July 2017