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Literary Criticism 

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Postcolonialism, Nation and Gender
Concepts & Examples
Major Theorists
Practice & Texts
Issues & Discussion
Relevant Links,References & Bibliographies
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I. Concept:

Definitions  Colonialism Postcolonialism: (De-)Colonization and Postcolonial strategies
Diaspora Identity and Postcolonial Identity Major Theorists Postcolonialism and Postmodernism

Definitions:  (More Definitions from Brown U.)

  • What is coloniailsm?  Postcolonialism?  (Cf. Slavery and Disapora)
    • colonialism --military, economic, cultural oppression/domination of one country over another.
      • e.g. European invasion of Africa, Asia and the Americas since the 16 century onwards.
      • e.g. pre-capitalistcolonialism: Before it, the Crusades in the 2nd century; Genghis Khan's invasion of Middle East as well as China in the 13th century.
      causes of "modern" colonialism --modernization, nationalization, capitalism
      major differences: "Modern colonilialism did more than extract tribute, goods and wealth from the countries that it conquered -- it restructured the economies of the latter, drawing them into a complex relationship with their own, so that there was a flow of human and natural resources between colonised and colonial countries.
    • cultural imperialism--more implicit
      • e.g. English Studies in India --American Studies and American culture in Taiwan
    • postcolonialism (See Map):  the social, political, economic, and cultural practices which arise

    •         in response and resistance to colonialism.
      • re-define the term "postcolonial" --
        • a misnomer because decolonization is impossible;
        • a monster (like the term Third World) because it covers too many areas with all sorts of differences;
        • should be distinguished from the "post" in postmodernism.
  • Related Terms
    • internal colonialism

      "cosmopolitan"  (From Social Text 31/32
      --The term has come forward, . . . as a means of revising our map of habitation, designating a new mode of life ("dwelling-in-travel") that is increasingly common in our time. . . . Bhabha, for instance, focuses on "the uncanny literary and social effects of enforced social accomodation" and "the anguish of cultural displacement and diasporic movement" that has itself become home, "a postcolonial place." [The third space]   The accommodative nature of the novel," he notes, has alwas brought forth the image of the house. What kind of narrative is it, then, he wonders, that can accommodate the postcolonial, and, more generally, "transnational" experience of the "unhomely"?  Through a reading of novels by Naipaul, Gordimer and Morrison, Bhabha invites us to imagine "world literature" as "the study of the way in which cultures recognize themselves through their projection of 'otherness'." 

      --a concern with specifying the different experiences of mobile abiding characteristic of different communities. [e.g. Chinese, Caribbean and African disaporas] 

      --a mode of thought skeptical of the claims of the "local" and the "particular."(Robbins) 

      --a mode of thought that celebrates rootlessness as an epistemologically and politically enabling position (Brennan) 

  • What is postcolonial literature?  [two kinds: that of the settler colony and the invaded colony]

  • The semantic basis of the term 'post-colonial' might seem to suggest a concern only with the national culture after the departure of the imperial power. It has occasionally been employed in some earlier work in the area to distinguish between the periods before and after independence. . . 

    We use the term 'post-colonial', however, to cover all the culture affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day

    What each of these literatures has in common beyond their special and distinctive regional characteristics is that they emerged in their presnt form out of the experience of colonization and asserted themselves by foregrounding the tension with the imperial power. (Ashcroft 1-2)

    (Undergraduate students, please read Reader's Guide pp. 194-97)

    Imperialism and colonialism
    • (military [Gulf War], economic [MacDonald's & Marboro in Taiwan], cultural) 
               --Supported by colonial discourse (e.g. literature and esp. novel, travelogue, Orientalism  Reader's Guidep. 190 Orientalism: An Outline by Amy Yeh
      • Prototypes in colonial discourses: The Tempest (Prospero, Ariel and Caliban); Robinson Crusoe (Crusoe and Goodman Friday)

      • "In The Tempest, Shakespeare's single  major addition to the story he found in certain pamphlets about a shipwreck in the Bermudas was to make the island inhabited befire Prospero's arrival.  This single addition turned the original adventure story into an allegory of the colonial encounter" (Loomba 2)
      • Ambivalent colonial discourses: e.g. Heart of Darkness, A Passage to India
      • Visual Examples: Colonialist Paintings and Photography
    • canon formation--the denial of the value of the 'peripheral', the 'marginal', the 'uncanonized'.

    • e.g. English Study

      "It can be argued that the study of English and the growth of Empire proceeded from a single ideological climate and that the development of the one is intrinsically bound up with the development of the other, both at the level of simple utility (as propaganda for instance) and at the unconscious level, where it leads to the naturalizing of constructed values (e.g. civilization, humanity, etc.) which, conversely, established 'savagery', 'native', 'primitive', as their antithesis and as the object of a reforming zeal" (Ashcroft 3 ). 

      canonization--mainstream and margin

      "Literature was made as central to the cultural enterprise of Empire as the monarchy was to its political formation. So when elements of the periphery and margin [e.g. Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea] threatened the exclusive claims of the centre they were rapidly incorporated. This was a process, in E. Said's terms, of conscious affiliation proceeding under the guise of filiation, that is, a mimicry of the centre proceeding from a desire not only to be accepted but to be adopted and absorbed.  (Ashcroft 4

    • Control through Language
    language--the imperial education system installs a 'standard' version of the metropolitan laguage as the norm, and marginalizes all 'variants' as impurities.
    --e.g. pidgin English, Taiwanese
    • Stereotypes as well as Other Forms of Racism
    e.g. E. Said's Orientalism  [basic idea: [some texts] are accorded }the authority of academics, institutions, and governments.  . .  Most important, such texts can create not only knowledge but also the very reality they appear to describe" (94).
    (e.g. Said's example:
    • Richard Burton and his Pilgrimage, Arabian Nights;
    contemporary examples:
    • Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein's The Bell Curve (1994): the discrepancy between black and white Americans on the standardized IQ tests was due to natural or genetic causes;
    •  Picturing Oriental Women: stereotyping/standardization of Oriental women such as Suzie Huang and Connie Cheong)
    • The Colonized's Self-Hatred [dependency or inferiority complex] or Split Subject --
    e.g. Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks (1967): In the colonized's soul "an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality" (18).
    (e.g. Japanese-Taiwanese subject in 〈小琪的帽子〉、〈莎喲娜啦〉、《無言的山丘》、《阿爸的情人》)
    The Empire writes back -- by creolizing the language, pluralizing the history, appropriating modes of power to establish the colonized's identity﹐or by physically going back to the metropolitan center  . . .

    (De-)Colonization and Postcolonial Reading/Writing/Social Strategies
    (Undergraduate students, please read Reader's Guide  pp. 190; 195-96)

    cultural syncretism

      Postcolonial Reading/Writing/Social Strategies --resistance as subversion, or 
         opposition, or mimicry  (See "Post-Colonial Discourse of Representation, Identity, and Resistance: Bhabha and Spivak")

    • decentring and pluralizing canon, official hiostry and Western hegemony;

    • Double Coding
    • Post-Colonial Allegory/Re-Visioning of History: "revising, reappropriating, or reinterpreting history as a concept, and in doing so to articulate new "codes of recognition" within which those acts of resistance, those unrealized intentions and those re-orderings of consciousness that "history" has rendered silent or invisible can be recognised as shaping forces in a culture's tradition." (e.g. China Men, 《高砂百合》, See Post-Colonial Allegory and the Transformation of History)
    • Mimicry --"Mimicry is, then, the sign of a double articulation; a complex strategy of reform, regulation and discipline, which 'appropriates' the Other as it visualizes power.  Mimicry is also the sign of the inappropriate, however, a difference or recalcitrance which coheres the dominant strategic function of colonial power, intensifies surveillance, and poses an immanent threat to both 'normalized' knowledges and disciplinary powers."(Bhabha "Of Mimicry and Man" p. 86)
      • Related strategies: a. mimicry in Irigaray; b. Camp in gay/lesbian cultures --An attitude at once casual and severe, affectionalte and ironic, camp served to deflate the pretensions of main ulture while elevating what thesame culture devalued or repressed.

      • A central issue: how its critical intentions can be recognized:  how to occupy a place in dominant culture, yet maintain a perspective on it that does not accept its eurocentric/pholocentric/homophobic and heterocentrist definitions, images, and terms of analysis.

        (Cf. 張小虹. 〈越界認同:擬仿/學舌/假仙的論述危機〉
        《第五屆美國文學與思想研討會》主編:紀元文. 台北:中研院,Dec. 1997: 25-58 .
        黃宗慧:〈雜的痛苦與 / 或雜的希望 -- 從巴巴的揉雜理論談起〉 英美文學評論第二期 (1995))

      Examples: 1. Self-Images of Chinese-Americans; 2. Self-Images of North American Aboriginals
      Negotiation and Cultural Difference
    Four Critical Models in the Studies of Postcolonial Literature
      "1. 'national' or regional models--which emphasize the distinctive features of the particular national or regional culture 
      2. race-based models which identify certain shared characteristics across various national literatures 
      3. comparative models of varying complexity which seek to account for particular linguistic, historical, and cultural features across two or more post-colonial literarture 
      4. more comprehensive comparative models which argue for features such as hybridity and syncreticity as constitutive elements of all post-colonial literatures. 

      (syncreticism is the process by which previously distinct linguistic categories, and , by extension, cultural formations, merge into a single new form)". (Ashcroft 15  )

    Diaspora Identity and Postcolonial Identity
    (See also web sites on Diaspora)

    Basic Concepts of Identity and Immigrants' Cultural Identity

    Diaspora: The word "diaspora" is derived from the Greek verb speiro (to sow) and the preposition dia (over).  When applied to humans, the ancient Greeks thought of diaspora as migration and colonization.  By contrast, for Jews, AFricans, Palestinians and Armenians the expression acquired a more sinister and brutal meaning.  Diaspora signified a collective trauma, a banishment, where one dreamed of home but lived in exile.
    Other peoples abroad who have also maintained strong identities have, in recent years, defined themselves as diasporas, though they were neither active agenets of colonization nor passive victims of persecution.

    All diasporic communities settled outside their natal (or imagined natal) territories, acknowledge that "the old country"--a notion often buried deep in language, religion, custom or folklore--always has some claim on their loyalty and emotion.  (Robert Cohen ix).

    Five kinds of Diaspora: Victim(e.g. Jews, Africans, Armenians), Labour (Indian, Chinese), Trade (Chinese and Lebanese), Imperial (the British), Cultural diasporas(the Caribbean).

      Diaspora & Hybridity: e.g. P. Gilroy's The Black Atlantic; Homi Bhabha
    Related terms: in-betweenness, liminality, creolization, mestizaje.

    • P. Gilroy's 'The Black Atlantic': an 'international and transnational formation' which 'provides a means to re-examine the problems of nationality, location, identity, and historical memory" (1993: ix; 16).
    • S. Hall's "New Ethnicity": the new black ethnicities visible in contemporary Britain are results of the 'cut-and-mix' processes of 'cultural diaspora-ization' (Morley & Chen eds. 1996: 446-447) (Cf. "Cultural Identity and Diaspora)
    • Homi Bhabha: Transnational/Tranlational Culture
    • place (home) and displacement (homelessness)
    "It is here that the special post-colonial crisis of identity comes into being; the concern with the development or recovery of an effective identifying relationship between self and place. A valid and active sense of self may have been eroded by dislocation, resulting from migration, the experience of enslavement, transportation, or 'voluntary' removal for indentured labour. Or it may have been destroyed byculturaldenigration,the conscious and unconscious oppression of the indigenous personality and culture by a supposedly superior racial or cultural model. 
    • Identity and language: (More . . . )
    "--one feature: the gap which opens between the experience of place and the language available to describe it 

    language--1. inadequate to describe a new place, 2. systematically destroyed by enslavement, 3. rendered unprivileged by teh imposition of the language of a colonizing power. 

    --linguistic alienation [silencing]; linguistic displacement of the pre-colonial language by English (Ashcroft 8-9

      Relations with postmodernism  (See also Postmodernism and Postcolonialism)
    a. parallels: de-centering, against History or any kind of totality, against humanist or imperialist subject,
                                    cultural strategies (e.g. parody, intertextuality, duality or indeterminacy in meaning,
                                    problematizing of historical knowledge; irony, magic realism)

    b. conflicts: postmodernism may be complicit with multi-national imperialism--MTV (or MacDonald's)
                                    as a multinational industry and its attempts at localization
                                    subject (textbook p. 189)--examples: Peter Gabriel, 黃舒俊,豬頭皮,羅大佑

    Major Theorists

      Edward Said: Orientalism (textbook 190); Said's postcolonial criticism (pp. 190-91)
            British novel as worldly text, colonial discourse

      Gyaytri Spivak: the Third-World intellectual's position (193-94);
            Can the subaltern speak? ("Post-Colonial Discourse of Representation, Identity, and Resistance: Bhabha and Spivak"Key points of Spivak's article; --examples: 〈小琪的那頂帽子〉, 〈魚骸〉)

      Homi Bhabha (Cf: Bhabha "Of Mimicry and Man")

     For further reading: "Lost in Space: Siting/citing the in-between of Homi Bhabha's The Location of Culture" from Jouvert.
      Stuart Hall "Cultural Identity and Diaspora."

      Sara Suleri  "Woman Skin Deep"

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    II. Practice:

      A. Is Taiwan a postmodern or a postcolonial society?
              Is de-colonization possible?
              To use 平路's terms, is Taiwan still a living entity growing and expanding naturally, or part of the world-wide  "Taiwanization"?
              Why do we have to learn English? Why do we only learn British and U.S. literature (but not the other literatures written in English)? Why do we have English names?
              What do you think about our 南進 policy? Our use of foreign laborers?
              --differences: desubjectivization and identity politics 189, 194
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    III. Texts:
    M. Butterfly

    〈魚骸〉故事年代——1952-1992 (Cf.1. 馬 來 西 亞 華 人 史 2. "Chinese in Malaysia" 3. A History of Race Relations in Malaysia, from Ethnic Chinese in Malaysia CHINESE DIASPORA in Huaren; 4. 三三文學集團與神州詩社  )

    ( 背景p. 222-23;230?溫瑞安的神州詩社;解嚴以來的學運幼稚?)
    1. 身分認同
        他的離散族裔身份——由龜到龜甲到縮頭烏龜;他對龜甲的興趣(234; 229-30)
    2. 龜骨和骸骨——引文的意義;p. 226「殺龜得版,哪還能還原?」
    3. 種族/國族衝突——新村、馬共、中文字(223-24)
    4. 身份衝突與性慾 (p. 236)
    議題:身份是建構還是自然的呼喚?(篆刻 vs. 海水、夢、性慾、骨頭)
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    • Postcolonial Identity: Can the subaltern speak?  In What language(s)?
          Spivak and Bhabha vs. Parry
      [S and B] focus their atttention on the texts of the imperialist, and on the inevitable dismantling of their authority at the colonial periphery through. . . ambivalence and mimicry. Within post-colonialsim this practice thus remains deconstructive rather than positivist, and its purchase lies in the dismantling of imperial fictions and colonialist ideologies. 

      [Parry] . . .deconstruction's necessary privileging of the imperial text as the object of critical attention amounts discursively to an erasure of the anti-colonialist 'antive' voice and the limiting of the possibility of native resistance. 

          settlers's constructing 'indigeneity'--native
      "White European settlers in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand faced the problem of establishing their 'indigeneity' and distinguishing it from their continuing sense of their European inheritance. In this respect their situation differs from that of Indians or Africans whose problem was to retrieve or reconstruct their culture at the end of a period of foreign rule. The colonial settlers had to create the indigenous, to discover what they perceived to be, in Emerson's phrase, their 'original relation with the universe'.  (Ashcroft 135  ) 

      conflict--as the backward-looking impotence of exile and the forward-looking impetus to indigeneity collide. (Ashcroft136   ) 

      e.g. 'the difference in nature and equivalence in value' between the New World and the Old.

    • Related Issue: de-colonization, hybridity (vs. assimilation), mimicry, commercialization of ethnicity,

    • Neo-colonialism, Cultural Imperialism and National Identity

    •             --globalization or decolonization? (Read Reader's Guide 193; Globalization as cultural imperialism?)
                  --Is "nation" a category to transcend at the present historical juncture?

    • Ashcroft, Bill,Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. New York: Routledge, 1989.
    • Cohen, Robin.  Global Diaspora: An Introduction.  Seattle: U of Washington P, 1997.

    • Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism.  NY: Routledge, 1998.

    Online Bibliographies for Further Studies:

  • 國家理論書目Theories of Nation, Nationalism and National Identity: Selected Bibliography

  • 國家敘述與後殖民論述
  • 國家與性別書目 Nation and Gender Bibliography

  • 後殖民文本--印度、加拿大、加勒比海地區電影和小說﹙建構中)Indian, Caribbean  Literature and Film: An Annotated Bibliography (Under Construction)

  • Bibliography of Identity Politics --with notes (some articles here are on Taiwanese identity); from In Other Words: A Lexicon of the Humanities
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