Introduction to Post Colonial Literatures

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Introduction to Post-Colonial Literatures: 

Introduction to Post-Colonial Literatures

What are post-colonial literatures?: 

What are post-colonial literatures? Definition of post-colonial: 'all the culture affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day' (2) Post-colonial literatures 'emerged in their present form out of the experience of colonization and asserted themselves by foregrounding the tension with the imperial power, and by emphasizing their differences from the assumptions of the imperial centre' (2) the local vs the metropolitan center Spatial metaphors: center, margin, periphery (Said: ' a conscious affiliation proceeding under the guise of filiation'—'a mimicry of the centre' ) (4)

Development and Concerns of Post-Colonial Literatures: 

Development and Concerns of Post-Colonial Literatures 1. texts produced by representatives of the imperial power  2. literature produced under imperial license by natives or outcasts (5) Hegemony of RS-English (Received Standard English)—linguistic hierarchy (7) English vs englishes—linguistic 'continuum' (8) Place and displacement—'dislocation,' 'cultural denigration' (9) The power of marginality (12)

Critical Models : 

Critical Models 1. national and regional models 2. race-based models 3. comparative models 4. wider comparative models ex. hybridity and syncretism ('the process by which previously distinct linguistic categories, and by extension, cultural formations, merge into a single new form') (15)

National and Regional Models: 

National and Regional Models National model: ex. American literature—difference from British literature [ American literatures] Metaphors: parent-child, parent tree-offshoot, stream-tributary (16) Wole Soyinka—'the process of self-apprehension' (17) Regional model: ex. West Indian literature or Caribbean literature (18)

Comparative Models: 

Comparative Models the metropolitan-colonial axis—Britain as a standard: in-school readers; a normative core of British literature, landscape, and history (Wordsworth’s daffodils); colonial adventure the white diaspora (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) ; the black diaspora; black + white (19)

Race-Based Models: the Black Writing Model: 

Race-Based Models: the Black Writing Model the African diaspora 'Négritude'—Césaire, Senghor—essentialist definition of Black culture (emotional; integration and wholeness,; rhythmic and temporal principles)—the danger of turning into a new universal paradigm (21)  Black consciousness movement, Black Power movements in the US Said—the danger of adopting 'a double kind of possessive exclusivism' [insiderism] (22)


Naming Commonwealth literature—1960s (23) Third World literatures new literatures in English colonial literatures post-colonial literatures(24) post-European

Place and Language: 

Place and Language D. E. S. Maxwell: the 'appropriateness' of using non-indigenous language—'imported tongue' alien to the place Settler colonies (the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand)—transplanted civilization Invaded colonies (India, West Africa)—indigenous culture marginalized (25) 'double vision' (local + metropolis) Limitations—not comprehensive enough (the West Indies and the South Africa); lack of linguistic subtlety, essentialist (26)

Thematic Parallels: 

Thematic Parallels 'celebration of the struggle towards independence in community and individual' (27) 'the dominating influence of a foreign culture of post-colonial societies' 'the construction or demolition of houses' 'the journey of the European interloper through unfamiliar landscape with a native guide' Use of allegory, irony, magic realism, discontinuous narrative (28) exile (29)

Colonizer and the Colonized: 

Colonizer and the Colonized Franz Fanon and Albert Memmi 'the possibility of ‘decolonizing’ the culture' (29) full independence—return to pre-colonial languages (Edward Brathwaite, Chinweizu) inevitable cultural syncreticity (Wilson Harris, Soyinka)

Dominated and Dominating: 

Dominated and Dominating Max Dorsinville To account for the changes in American literature To account for minority literatures (32) Irish, Welsh and Scottish literatures Subversion in the dominated literatures—empire writes back to the imperial center (33)

Hybridity, Syncreticity, Creolization: 

Hybridity, Syncreticity, Creolization Homi Bhabha—'the collusion between narrative mode, history, and realist mimetic readings of texts' Derek Walcott—into a historyless world (34) Harris—imaginative escape—Anancy and the Middle Passage—'each text contains the seeds of ‘community’ which…crack asunder the apparent inescapable dialectic of history' (35)—hybridity 'replaces a temporal lineality with spatial plurality' 'the problems of transmuting time into space, with the present struggling out of the past' (36)

Post-colonial Language: 

Post-colonial Language Language as a medium for power—abrogation and appropriation to re-place English (38) 3 main types of linguistic groups (39) monoglossic: 'single-language societies using english as a native tongue' diglossic: bilingualism—'english as the language of government and commerce'—India, Africa, the South Pacific polyglossic or polydialectical: 'a multitude of dialects interweave to form a generally comprehensible linguistic continuum'—linguistic 'intersections'—Caribbean

The Construction of English: 

The Construction of English 'The world language called english is a continuum of ‘intersections’ in which the speaking habits in various communities have intervened to reconstruct the language.' (39-40) 2 ways of reconstruction: Regional english varieties introduce new words National and regional peculiarities 'English is continually changing and growing (becoming an ‘english’)'

Abrogation and Appropriation: 

Abrogation and Appropriation 'Abrogation is a refusal of the categories of the imperial culture, its aesthetic, its illusory standard of normative or ‘correct’ usage, and its assumption of a traditional and fixed meaning ‘inscribed’ in the words.'—must be combined with appropriation to avoid being 'a reversal of the assumptions of privilege, the ‘normal’, and correct inscription' (38) 'Appropriation is the process by which language is taken and made to ‘bear the burden’ of one’s own cultural experience,’ or…to ‘convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own ’' (38-39)


Abrogation Reactions against 'the notions of centrality and the ‘authentic’' in the process of decolonization Privileges the margins; refutes a standard code (40) or rejects the possibility of returning to 'some ‘pure’ and unsullied cultural condition' (anti-universalist, anti-representational stance) (41) The english language as a tool to textually construct a 'world,' 'it also constructs difference, separation, and absence from the metropolitan norm.' (44)

The Creole Continuum: 

The Creole Continuum Jean D’Costa: 'The [Caribbean] writer operates within a polydialectical continuum with a creole base. His medium, written language, belongs to the sphere of standardised language which exerts a pressure within his own language community while embracing the wide audience of international standard English.' (45)—a linguistic theory 'Writers in this continuum employ highly developed strategies of code-switching and vernacular transcription, which achieve the dual result of abrogating the standard English and appropriating an english as a culturally significant discourse.'

Metonymic Function of Language Variance: 

Metonymic Function of Language Variance 'post-colonial writing abrogates the privileged centrality of ‘English’ by using language to signify difference while employing a sameness which allows it to be understood. It does this by employing language variance, the ‘part’ of a wider cultural whole, which assists in the work of language seizure whilst being neither transmuted nor overwhelmed by its adopted vehicle.' (51) Signifying process—post-colonial texts as metonymy; language variance itself as 'metonymic of cultural difference' (52)

Language Variance: Allusion: 

Language Variance: Allusion 'the process of allusion installs linguistic distance itself as a subject of the text. The maintenance of the ‘gap’ in the cross-cultural text is of profound importance to its ethnographic functions.' (58-59)

Strategies of Appropriation: 

Strategies of Appropriation Contrast the appropriated english with SE (59) Editorial intrusions: footnotes, glossary, the explanatory preface, etc. (61) Glossing: 'the most primitive form of metonymy' (62)—absence/gap between word and its referent Untranslated words: 'selective lexical fidelity' (64) 'forces the reader into an active engagement with the horizons of the culture in which these terms have meaning.'—indicating the gap, 'a sign of distinctiveness'; 'an endorsement of the facility of the discourse situation' (65)


Interchange: 'to generate an ‘inter-culture’ by the fusion of the linguistic structures of two languages' (66)—'a term coined by Nemser and Selinker to characterize the genuine and discrete linguistic system by learners of a second language. The concept of an interlanguage reveals that the utterances of a second-language learner are not deviant forms or mistakes, but rather are part of a separate but genuine system.' (67) Syntactic fusion: to mix the syntax of local language with the lexical forms of English (68); developing (colloquial) neologisms (71)


Code-switching: the most common strategy of appropriation, esp. in the literatures of the Caribbean continuum (72) Vernacular transcription: 'the transcription of dialect forms or radical variants informed in one way or another by a mother tongue or by the exigencies of transplantation.' (73) pidgin—'to install class difference and to signify its presence' (76) Strategies of appropriation 'seize the language, re-place it in a specific cultural location, and yet maintain the integrity of that Otherness, which historically has been employed to keep the post-colonial at the margins of power, of ‘authenticity’, and even of reality itself.' (77)