Is a humanist intellectual with a popular audience more likely to be a credentialed expert or an autodidact? Is such an intellectual a professional or an amateur? My proposed book considers these questions in the light of the institutionalization of a humanist curriculum across the British empire in order to examine the trajectory and oeuvre of a range of postcolonial thinkers whose provocative appeal derive from their positions as amateurs and autodidacts. Such intellectual identities are at odds with colonial education’s ideological enterprise to create a certain kind of professional subject. Central to this identity is the practice “poor reading”, which captures the reading process of the disenfranchised reader who, located far from the original – usually metropolitan – context of the text, is singularly ill-equipped for the various modes of historical/contextualist reading that professional literary scholarship enshrines today.