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 play, 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 and global literatures
  • To be able to communicate one’s ideas cogently in class and on online forums  




There will be 2.5 contact hours per week on Wednesdays from 6.30-9.00pm. Formal lectures and discussions from 6.30-8pm will be supplemented by smaller tutorial group discussions and presentations from 8-9pm.




Attendance/Participation/Presentation                      10%
Moodle Responses/Quizzes                                     15%
Short Writing Assignment                                        20%           
In-class Exam                                                            20%
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. Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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

Some of the other works we may cover include Samuel Coleridge, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Conrad, Jorge Luis Borges and Louise Ho.

Theoretical texts may include Stuart Hall, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Franco Moretti, Arjun Appadurai, and others.


Further readings available in the HKU Library:
Bill Ashcroft and Pal Ahluwalia, Edward Said (New York: Routledge, 2001).
Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994).
Casey Blanton, Travel Writing: The Self and the World (New York: Twayne, 1997)
Timothy Brennan, At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP, 1997).
Steve Clark (ed.), Travel Writing and Empire: Postcolonial Theory in Transit (London, New York: ZED Books, 1999).
Mike Featherstone (ed.), Cultural Theory and Cultural Change (London: Sage, 1992).
Marjorie Garber, Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (New York: Routledge, 1992).
Suman Gupta, Globalization and Literature (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009)
Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge: CUP, 2002).
Stuart Hall and Bram Gieben, eds., Formations of Modernity (Cambridge and Oxford: Open University Press, 1992
Rana Kabbani, Europe's Myth of Orient (London: Pandora, 1986).
Valerie Kennedy, Edward Said : A Critical Introduction (Cambridge: Polity, 2000).
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.  
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).
Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London and New York: Routledge, 1994).
Patrick Williams (ed.), Edward Said (London: Sage, 2001)
Robert J. C. Young, Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2003).
For questions on this course please contact your instructor at



Last updated: 12 July 2019