Can the Subaltern Teach?

Harris, Judy. 2015. Can the Subaltern Teach? Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 17(1), pp. 135-153. ISSN 1369-801X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This essay explores the position of reading in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's proposed aesthetic education. Spivak's ethical endeavour is premised in the universalization of modern reading habits, yet simultaneously seeks to safeguard diversity. It is imperative to address the implications of the interiorization of writing and to situate solitary literary reading as a particular cultural practice with particular consequences. Rather than an anthropological analysis of orality and literacy, this essay explores the relationship between two modes of agency present in Spivak's work: subaltern 'responsibility' and modern literary 'response-ability'. While there may be no easy supplemental relationship between the two, this essay argues that resistance to global uniformity requires a commitment to guard against the standardization of particular reading practices.

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Identification Number (DOI):


aesthetic education; literacy; pedagogy; reading; Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty; writing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


10 March 2014Published Online

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Date Deposited:

22 Jul 2014 06:19

Last Modified:

21 Apr 2021 14:35

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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