What is most strikingly new about the transcultural is its sudden ubiquity. Following in the wake of previous concepts in cultural and literary studies such as creolization, hybridity, and syncretism, and signalling a family relationship to terms such as transnationality, translocality, and transmigration, ‘transcultural’ terminology has unobtrusively but powerfully edged its way into contemporary theoretical and critical discourse. The four sections of this volume denote major areas where ‘transcultural’ questions and problematics have come to the fore: theories of culture and literature that have sought to account for the complexity of culture in a world increasingly characterized by globalization, transnationalization, and interdependence; realities of individual and collective life-worlds shaped by the ubiquity of phenomena and experiences relating to transnational connections and the blurring of cultural boundaries; fictions in literature and other media that explore these realities, negotiate the fuzzy edges of ‘ethnic’ or ‘national’ cultures, and participate in the creation of transnational public spheres as well as transcultural imaginations and memories; and, finally, pedagogy and didactics, where earlier models of teaching ‘other’ cultures are faced with the challenge of coming to terms with cultural complexity both in what is being taught and in the people it is taught to, and where ‘target cultures’ have become elusive. The idea of ‘locating’ culture and literature exclusively in the context of ethnicities or nations is rapidly losing plausibility throughout an ‘English-speaking world’ that has long since been multi- rather than monolingual. Exploring the prospects and contours of ‘Transcultural English Studies’ thus reflects a set of common challenges and predicaments that in recent years have increasingly moved centre stage not only in the New Literatures in English, but also in British and American studies.
Progress and Process in Teaching the New Literatures in English. Essays in Honour of Dieter Riemenschneider
Edited by Gordon Collier and Frank Schulze-Engler
The essays in this collection celebrate the signal achievement of Dieter Riemenschneider in helping found and consolidate the study of postcolonial anglophone literatures in Germany and Europe. As well as poems, a short story, drawings of the Indian scene (the first, and abiding, focus of this scholar’s work), and ‘letters’ of reminiscence (one quite grave), there are revealing contributions of a literary-historical nature on the establishment of anglophone (especially African) literatures as an academic discipline within Germany, the UK, and Northern Europe generally, as well as a group of searching reflections on such topics of postcolonial import as globalization and the applicability of models to the literature of the indigene in Canada and Australia. The largest section is devoted to individual topics, each treatment implicitly keyed to approaches to the teaching of New Literatures texts. Writers covered include Anita Desai (landscape and memory), Salman Rushdie (painting in The Moor’s Last Sigh), Charlotte Brontë (imperial discourse in Jane Eyre), Derek Walcott ( Omeros and cultural cohabitation), and Witi Ihimaera (his rewriting of Katherine Mansfield). Topics dealt with include music and radio in West Africa, the African literary ‘hit parade’, the New Zealand prose poem, Canadian and Australian war fiction, the Middle Passage in the American and Caribbean novel, Paul Theroux’s uneasy relations with V.S. Naipaul, and the colonial discourse of illness and recuperation. The volume closes with Dieter Riemenschneider’s very first and most recent critical essays, the one a classic on Mulk Raj Anand, the other a challenging and doubtless controversial thesis on postcolonial minority writing. A select bibliography of Riemenschneider’s work (books, edited publications, journal articles and book contributions, reviews and broadcasts) rounds off this substantial collection.