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Marie Vieux Chauvet’s Theatres

Thought, Form, and Performance of Revolt

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Edited by Christian Flaugh and Lena Taub Robles

Marie Vieux Chauvet’s Theatres: Thought, Form, and Performance of Revolt at once reflects and acts upon the praxis of theatre that inspired Haitian writer Marie Vieux Chauvet, while at the same time provides incisively new cultural studies readings about revolt in her theatre and prose. Chauvet – like many free-minded women of the Caribbean and the African diaspora – was banned from the public sphere, leaving her work largely ignored for decades. Following on a renewed interest in Chauvet, this collection makes essential contributions to Africana Studies, Theatre Studies, Performance Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Global South Feminisms.

Contributors are: Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken, Stéphanie Bérard, Christian Flaugh, Gabrielle Gallo, Jeremy Matthew Glick, Kaiama L. Glover, Régine Michelle Jean-Charles, Cae Joseph-Massena, Nehanda Loiseau, Judith G. Miller, Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Anthony Phelps, Ioana Pribiag, Charlee M. Redman Bezilla, Guy Régis Jr, and Lena Taub Robles.

This collection is a beautiful gathering of voices exploring Chauvet’s theatrical work, along with the role of theatre in her novels. The richly textured and evocatively written essays offer many new and necessary insights into the work of one of Haiti’s greatest writers.
— Laurent Dubois, Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History, Duke University. Author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History

This collection draws necessary critical attention to how theatre and performance animate the work of a key figure in Caribbean fiction and drama. Using an innovative scholarly and artistic approach, the collection incorporates leading and new voices in Haitian studies and Francophone studies on Chauvet’s depictions of revolt.
— Soyica Diggs Colbert, Professor of African American Studies and Theater & Performance Studies, Georgetown University. Author of Black Movements: Performance and Cultural Politics

"Mouths on Fire with Songs"

Negotiating Multi-Ethnic Identities on the Contemporary North American Stage

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Caroline De Wagter

This book, the first cross-cultural study of post-1970s anglophone Canadian and American multi-ethnic drama, invites assessment of the thematic and aesthetic contributions of this theater in today’s globalized culture. A growing number of playwrights of African, South and East Asian, and First Nations heritage have engaged with manifold socio-political and aesthetic issues in experimental works combining formal features of more classical European dramatic traditions with such elements of ethnic culture as ancestral music and dance, to interrogate the very concepts of theatricality and canonicity. Their “mouths on fire” (August Wilson), these playwrights contest stereotyped notions of authenticity. In¬spired by songs of anger, passion, experience, survival, and regeneration, the plays analyzed bespeak a burning desire to break the silence, to heal and empower. Foregrounding questions of hybridity, diaspora, cultural memory, and nation, this comparative study includes discussion of some twenty-five case studies of plays by such authors as M.J. Kang, August Wilson, Suzan–Lori Parks, Djanet Sears, Chay Yew, Padma Viswanathan, Rana Bose, Diane Glancy, and Drew Hayden Taylor. Through its cross-cultural and cross-national prism, “Mouths on Fire with Songs” shows that multi-ethnic drama is one of the most diverse and dynamic sites of cultural production in North America today.

"So There It Is"

An Exploration of Cultural Hybridity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry

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Brigitte Wallinger-Schorn

In interpreting contemporary Asian American poetry, it is important to understand the cultural hybridity of Asian America identity, located at the interstices of the fixed identifications ‘American’, ‘Asian American’, and ‘Asian’. This rootedness in more than one culture exposes the inapplicability of binary concepts (foreigner/national, etc.). Hybridity, opposing essentialism and ‘the original’, favors multivocality and ambivalence. The exploration of Asian American cultural hybridity is linked both to material realities and poetic manifestations.
Asian American hybrid subjectivity is explored through in-depth interpretations of works from well-established contemporary poets such as Kimiko Hahn, Marilyn Chin, Li-Young Lee, and Arthur Sze, as well as that of many new talents and hitherto neglected writers.
This study examines how language and power interrelate, with translation and linguistic fusion being two approaches adopted by hybrid authors in their creation of alternative discourse. Culturally hybrid subjectivity is independent of and at the same time interconnected with more than one culture, thus enabling innovative political and identitarian positions to be articulated. Also examined are such traditional poetic forms as the zuihitsu, the sonnet, and the ghazal, which continue to be used, though in modernized and often subversive guise. The formal liminal space is revealed as a source of newness and invention deconstructing eurocentric hierarchy and national myth in American society and expanding or undercutting binary constructs of racial, national, and ethnic identities.
A further question pursued is whether there are particular aesthetic modes and concepts that unite contemporary Asian American poetry when the allegiances of the practitioners are so disparate (ultimate geocultural provenience, poetic schools, regions in the USA, generations, sexual orientation, etc.). Wide-ranging interviews with Kimiko Hahn and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on identity and roots, language and power, feminism, and the American poetry scene provide illuminating personal yet representative answers to this and other questions.

Decolonizing the Lens of Power

Indigenous Films in North America

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Kerstin Knopf

This is the first book that comprehensively examines Indigenous filmmaking in North America, as it analyzes in detail a variety of representative films by Canadian and US-American Indigenous filmmakers: two films that contextualize the oral tradition, three short films, and four dramatic films. The book explores how members of colonized groups use the medium of film as a means for cultural and political expression and thus enter the dominant colonial film discourse and create an answering discourse. The theoretical framework is developed as an interdisciplinary approach, combining postcolonialism, Indigenous studies, and film studies. As Indigenous people are gradually taking control over the imagemaking process in the area of film and video, they cease being studied and described objects and become subjects who create self-controlled images of Indigenous cultures. The book explores the translatability of Indigenous oral tradition into film, touching upon the changes the cultural knowledge is subject to in this process, including statements of Indigenous filmmakers on this issue. It also asks whether or not there is a definite Indigenous film practice and whether filmmakers tend to dissociate their work from dominant classical filmmaking, adapt to it, or create new film forms and styles through converging classical film conventions and their conscious violation. This approach presupposes that Indigenous filmmakers are constantly in some state of reaction to Western ethnographic filmmaking and to classical narrative filmmaking and its epitome, the Hollywood narrative cinema. The films analyzed are The Road Allowance People by Maria Campbell, Itam Hakim, Hopiit by Victor Masayesva, Talker by Lloyd Martell, Tenacity and Smoke Signals by Chris Eyre, Overweight With Crooked Teeth and Honey Moccasin by Shelley Niro, Big Bear by Gil Cardinal, and Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner by Zacharias Kunuk.

Conciliation – Compulsion – Conversion

British Attitudes Towards Indigenous Peoples 1763-1814

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Merete Falck Borch

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.

Caught Between Cultures

Women, Writing & Subjectivities

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Edited by Elizabeth Russell

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.

Women's Movement

Escape as Transgression in North American Feminist Fiction

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Heidi Slettedahl MacPherson

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.