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Magical Realism in US Ethnic Literatures
Uncertain Mirrors realigns magical realism within a changing critical landscape, from Aristotelian mimesis to Adorno’s concept of negative dialectics. In between, the volume traverses a vast theoretical arena, from postmodernism and postcolonialism to Lévinasian philosophy and eco-criticism. The volume opens and closes with dialectical instability, as it recasts the mutability of the term “mimesis” as both a “world-reflecting” and a “world-creating” mechanism. Magical realism, the authors contend, offers another stance of the possible; it also situates the reader at a hybrid aesthetic matrix inextricably linked to postcolonial theory, postmodernism, Bakhtinian theory, and quantum physics. As Uncertain Mirrors explores, magical realist texts partake of modernist exhaustion as much as of postmodernist replenishment, yet they stem from a different “location of culture” and “direction of culture;” they offer complex aesthetic artifacts that, in their recreation of alternative geographic and semiotic spaces, dislocate hegemonic texts and ideologies. Their unrealistic excess effects a breach in the totalized unity represented by 19th century realism, and plays the dissonant chord of the particular and the non-identical.
British Attitudes Towards Indigenous Peoples 1763-1814
This work is an examination of British imperial policy and attitudes towards the original inhabitants in the American colonies, New South Wales and the Cape colony of South Africa. A comparative study of the formative phase in this area of policy, it covers the period between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, examining and comparing the development of policy in each of the three geographical regions and tracing the legal and intellectual context within which this policy took shape. It suggests an important shift of attitude towards indigenous peoples in the course of the period covered – a change that had a major impact on political perceptions and policy formation.
Common Traditions and New Developments
In postcolonial theory we have now reached a new stage in the succession of key concepts. After the celebrations of hybridity in the work of Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak, it is now the concept of diaspora that has sparked animated debates among postcolonial critics. This collection intervenes in the current discussion about the 'new' diaspora by placing the rise of diaspora within the politics of multiculturalism and its supercession by a politics of difference and cultural-rights theory. The essays present recent developments in Jewish negotiations of diasporic tradition and experience, discussing the reinterpretation of concepts of the 'old' diaspora in late twentieth- century British and American Jewish literature. The second part of the volume comprises theoretical and critical essays on the South Asian diaspora and on multicultural settings between Australia, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. The South Asian and Caribbean diasporas are compared to the Jewish prototype and contrasted with the Turkish diaspora in Germany. All essays deal with literary reflections on, and thematizations of, the diasporic predicament.
Women, Writing & Subjectivities
The essays in this collection ( on Canada, the USA, Australia and the UK) question and discuss the issues of cross-cultural identities and the crossing of boundaries, both geographical and conceptual. All of the authors have experienced cross-culturalism directly and are conscious that positions of ‘double vision’, which allow the / to participate positively in two or more cultures, are privileges that only a few can celebrate. Most women find themselves “caught between cultures”. They become involved in a day-to-day struggle, in an attempt to negotiate identities which can affirm the self and, at the same time, strengthen the ties which unites the self with others. Theoretical issues on cross-culturalism, therefore, can either liberate or constrict the /. The essays here illustrate how women's writing negotiates this dualism through a colourful and complex weaving of words - thoughts and experiences both pleasurable and painful - into texts, quilts, rainbows. The metaphors abound. The connecting thread through their writing and, indeed, in these essays, is the concept of ‘belonging’, a theoretical/emotional composite of be-ing and longing. ‘Home’, too, assumes a variety of meanings; it is no longer a static geographical place, but many places. It is also a place elsewhere in the imagination, a mythic place of desire linked to origin.
Policies of multiculturalism can throw up more problems than they solve. In Canada, the difficulties surrounding the cross-cultural debate have given rise to a state of “messy imbroglio”. Notions of authenticity move dangerously close to essentialist identities. ‘Double vision’ is characteristic of peoples who have been uprooted and displaced, such as Australian Aboriginal writers of mixed race abducted during childhood. ‘Passing for’ black or white is full of complications, as in the case of Pauline Johnson, who passed as an authentic Indian. People with hyphenated citizenship (such as Japanese-Canadian) can be either free of national ties or trapped in subordination to the dominant culture; in these ‘visible minorities’, it is the status of being female (or coloured female) that is so often ultimately rendered invisible.
Examination of Canadian anthologies on cross-cultural writing by women reveals a crossing of boundaries of gender and genre, race and ethnicity, and, in some cases, national boundaries, in an attempt to connect with a diasporic consciousness. Cross-cultural women writers in the USA may stress experience and unique collective history, while others prefer to focus on aesthetic links and literary connections which ultimately silence difference. Journeying from the personal space of the / into the collective space of the we is exemplified in a reading of texts by June Jordan and Minnie Bruce Pratt. For these writers identity is in process. It is a painful negotiation but one which can transform knowledge into action.
This volume stems from the idea that the notion of borders and borderlines as clear-cut frontiers separating not only political and geographical areas, but also cultural, linguistic and semiotic spaces, does not fully address the complexity of contemporary cultural encounters. Centering on a whole range of literary works from the United States and the Caribbean, the contributors suggest and discuss different theoretical and methodological grounds to address the literary production taking place across the lines in North American and Caribbean culture. The volume represents a pioneering attempt at proposing the concept of the border as a useful paradigm not only for the study of Chicano literature but also for the other American literatures. The works presented in the volume illustrate various aspects and manifestations of the textual border(lands), and explore the double-voiced discourse of border texts by writers like Harriet E. Wilson, Rudolfo Anaya, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, Louise Erdrich, Helena Viramontes, Paule Marshall and Monica Sone, among others. This book is of interest for scholars and researchers in the field of comparative American studies and ethnic studies.
Escape as Transgression in North American Feminist Fiction
Women’s Movement critically explores the transgressive potential of feminist escape narratives and argues that they are, almost by definition, radically different from paradigmatic male escape narratives. While definitions of escape are necessarily broad, they have too often excluded the ambiguous escape – the escape most closely associated with the female. Indeed, feminist escape narratives often resist a happy ending, and Women’s Movement argues that these narrative closures reflect the changing face of feminism, as it sheds its old certainties, is faced with a monumental “backlash” and is refigured as the potentially less threatening “postfeminism”.
Resisting the automatic association of “escape” with “escapist,” Women’s Movement analyzes male adventure and quest narratives, including Moby-Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Blood Meridian, and Deliverance, before turning to a range of feminist texts. While being the first book to give critical attention to some postfeminist novels, Women’s Movement more often acts as a channel for offering different ways of approaching familiar feminist texts, including, among others, Marian Engel’s Bear, Atwood’s Surfacing and The Handmaid’s Tale, Joan Barfoot’s Gaining Ground and Dancing in the Dark, Anne Tyler’s Earthly Possessions and Ladder of Years, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying and Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners.