1) James Clifford, in discussing "a problematic figure, the informant'," points out that these are usually "complex individuals routinely made to speak for cultural' knowledge" and yet who in actuality "have their own ethnographic' proclivities...and have seldom been homebodies" (from "Traveling Cultures").
A) Consider how several different critics and theorists have tried to complicate such figures of liminality and hybridity by negotiating versions of hybridity, fluidity, and multiple subjectivity within such "complex individuals" as alternatives to binarized essentialisms: for example, Bhabha's notions of hybridity, mimicry, and the "third space"; Judith Butler's "troubling" of essentialized categories; Anzaldua's "borderlands"; Rushdie's Bombay; Clifford's own arguments; and so on. Discuss some of these and their usefulness; negotiate, compare, and critique some of these in any way you wish. What happens to the notion of "identity" in such discussions?
B) How does your reading of Clifford, Pico Iyer, Said, Spivak, and others complicate the dynamics of "travel" and traveling? Apply some of these insights to two or three texts on your literature list that deal with cross-cultural "travel": e.g., the Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, The Canterbury Tales, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, The Last of the Mohicans, King Solomon's Mines, "The Man Who Would Be King", A Passage to India, Out of Africa, etc.
This would be a written question, obviously. I'll be flying out to Utah to take the oral, and then a few days later, they'll e-mail me my written question. I'll then have 72 hours to write a suitable response (usually about 40-50 typed pages) and e-mail it back to them. I'm so glad I get to do that part of the exam at home, with Kevin and tea and most importantly, all my books!
I need to review the Clifford today, but from what I remember of it, I think that I'd be okay with this question. I'd probably choose option B -- while I can do the more heavy-duty theory stuff if I have to, I'm more comfortable not, if given the option. It's also more fun, working with fiction than nonfiction. :-)
This is actually a pretty kind question from him, given that when I took his post-colonial theory class, my final paper was on hybridity (and my perception of my own role as a hybrid). My committee is pretty darn cool.