Literatures in English
World Literatures in English:
(For a short definition
of World Literatures in English, please look at our course
description. Or go to Introduction
to Postcolonial Studies--remote at Emory U.--for a longer description
of postcolonial studies.)
They are great:
There has been resistance to the challenges to the canon posed by World
Literatures in English. (Some might argue that Shakespeare, or Milton,
or Spenser, after all, is still the best.) Without denying the values
of these canonical figures, we believe that World Literatures in English
also have masterpieces which had been and might still have been ignored
without postcolonialist consciousness in the readers or in some departments.
As an English major
(whether with a focus on literature or on linguistics), we need to study
British and American literatures so that we have in-depth knowledge of
their cultures and their histories. However, so many other places
and nations use "english" as their official language (and/or native language),
and so many other "english" literatures have been written.
De-centeringthe British and U.S. literatures (but not replacing them with
another center) is necessary, so that we can be led to the many english
literary worlds and their cultures.
They are relevant to us:
Colonialism is not the thing of the past; nor are these literatures foreign
Most of the major
themes and issues in this field concern us in Taiwan. For instance,
They are eye-openers!
They broaden our perspectives on ourselves and about the human world(s).
Does Taiwan succeed in constructing its own identity after the multiple
colonization by Holland, Spain, Japan, the U.S. and under the neo-colonial
powers of the U.S. and Japan? (e.g. the stories by 黃春明；the films
Bless America)、《匪諜大亨》，and so many other texts.)
identity: What kinds of cultural identities do Taiwanese have?
How are they different from the Chinese diaspora in the other parts in
the world? (e.g. 《春光乍洩》、《三個女人的故事》《甜蜜蜜》《愛在他鄉的季節》《春光乍洩》vs.
many novels such as 〈魚骸〉、平路〈台灣奇蹟〉〈玉米田之死〉；張大春〈將軍碑〉、〈四喜憂國〉；林燿德《高砂百合》
and such films as 《悲情城市》、《青少年哪吒》、《只要為你活一天》、《望鄉》．
gender and race:
Orientalism. How have Taiwanese women suffered from the
colonizers' rape （慰安婦）, or from double victimization by both patriarchy
and colonialism （李昂〈戴貞操帶的魔鬼〉《迷園》）? How have Taiwanese
women assert themselves against both? （平路 《行路天涯》）
concerns, the different regions in the field of World Literatures in English
have their cultural and historical distinctness. If learning a language
means entering a world, then learning these exemplary texts from this enormous
field initiates us to take a journey into many worlds.
Approach the text,
feel its emotions and art directly while trying to find out more about
its contexts through searching on the Internet.
Sea) without knowning the complicated post-emancipation history in
the Caribbean area or the conflicts between the English island (Jamaica)
and French island (Martinique), we will not be able to fully understand
Annette's sense of constraint in Jamaica, nor Antoinette's extreme sense
Bombay!) the knowledge of the poverty and ghetto problems in
Bombay, and especially the fact that the film is played by some street
kids, will add to our sympathy for the characters in the film and Bombay
society. On the other hand, reading about the present Bombay on some
websites ( Images
of Bombay; or The Bombay
pages) can offer
us a broader view of Bombay and thus help us avoiding unnecessary pitying,
with the understanding that the discrepancies between the haves and have-nots
is still a big problem there.
-- authorial: the
fact that "The
Concubine's Children" is written by the concubine's grand-daughter
(Denise Cheong) makes us feel the impact of this family tragedy.
Be sensitive to the
range of possible issues; examine how the text is engaged in these issues,
and then engage yourself criticallly. (See more extended lists
in final exam 2000,
To use Language and Postcolonial Resistance
as an example, some points may possibly
I. Colonization and
Colonization and Gender--
Language and Postcolonial
Growth and Family Relationships in (Post-)Colonial society
III. Immigrants' cultural
and Gender Identity
IV. Cultural distinctness
and Cultural syncreticism
Caste and internal migrants
in the Indian texts
voodoo, Krik? Krak!,
abeng, Calypso and Reggae in the Caribbean area
The role of "family"
in "Chinese," "Korean" or "Japanese" immigrant society.
happen not only between different nations or peoples, but also between
different languages. Being able to use/write a certain language means
being in a position of power. For instance,
The use of language--as
well as one's names-- is related to one's cultural identity.
In Taiwan, there was
a period of time when speaking in Taiwanese would get one punished, and
Taiwanese Chinese is a sign of crudity and lack of education. Nowadays,
the table turns and Taiwanese Chinese (such as that of our president's)
becomes a sign of endearment.
In both Narayan's
and Mira Nair's Salaam
Bombay, the protagonists (Anamalai and Krishna's case) are both
illiterate. Not being able to write creates a problem for
their attempts at being connected with their family. The Sweet Sixteen's
inability to speak Hindi makes her even more powerless.
In the case of Double
Happiness, the use of subtitles distinguish
Jade's family from Brady Bunch's.
Postcolonial resistance: Closely related to the character/author's
cultural identity is their (the authors' and teh characters') ways to resist
Happiness and "Prey," different generations
of Chinese or Korean immigrants speak English differently. The one
who is most adept at it is Pearl, who likes to tell jokes in English.
In the hunting episode
of Michelle Cliff's Abeng,
Clare speaks in standard English when she has to defend herself.
Stephen is a hybrid identity though he does not want it this way. (Stephen's
"sonuva bitch"; or "golden sonuva bitch")
(Here on this page "Language",
there is a theoretical discussion of some postcolonial writers' different
views about the use of language.)
using one's native language: e.g. insistance on the use of Taiwanese
in some political occasions; the large part of Indian literature (written
in Urdu, Hindi, etc.) which is inaccessible to us.
mixing the languages:
changing the language:
The children in The God of Small Things reverse the English
words for fun;
the use of literary language and forms: