This chapter deals with a number of the objections raised in discussions of
Realism, from the Realist period and twentieth- and twenty-first century
criticisms. It provides information on the novel genre, language that
characterises Realism, and selection of novel material. It is poetry that
often lays claim to 'the spiritual' and the symbolic mode
of representation, as opposed to the visible commonplaces of the Realist
novel. However, it does lead us into a related issue concerned with the
Realist novel: 'the bigger picture'. The discussion of
mimesis leads on to consideration of a related term that is conflated with
Realism: 'realistic'. The problem with use of individuals,
type and stereotype within realism are covered. The chapter considers the
figure of 'the fallen woman' as she appears in Realist
novels to illustrate the objection. STOP and THINK sections list questions
to help readers understand the nineteenth-century Realist aesthetic and
This chapter looks at crucial elements in realist drama, stage design,
and a technical feature often overlooked, the aside, something which
seems non-realistic, and which might offer another view on Realism. Realism
makes inroads into the melodrama of the day that dominated the theatre, and
literary history has little regard for the period between 'Sheridan
and Shaw', that is, a period from the end of the 1770s to the
beginning of the 1890s. The chapter provides a number of plays from this
period their due, in their relation to Realism, showing that they are not
without their own merits, and once again to throw into relief the Realist
novel. It discusses the role of the protagonist and the question of
'agency' in the relationship between Realism and the idea
of drama in the nineteenth century. A STOP and THINK section helps readers
to ponder whether drama is inherently unsuited to Realism.
This chapter looks at particular theories and theorists of realism, providing
a sense of some of the most important critical work on literary realism from
the mid-twentieth century to the present. The critical work on literary
realism covered includes Eric Auerbach's Mimesis, Ian
Watt's The Rise of the Novel, and Catherine Belsey's
Critical Practice. The chapter also provides an account of Georg Lukács, one
of the strong defenders of realism. It deals with two major planks of
Belsey's attack on realism: the role of language, and her
conceptualisation of the classic realist text. STOP and THINK sections in
this chapter list questions related to the challenges of realism,
postmodernism, postcolonialism and magic realism.
This book provides a sense of the continuing debates about postcolonialism while seeking to anchor some of its key themes and vocabularies securely. It takes as its primary focus, the various reading practices which distinguish and characterise much of the field - practices which for the purpose of this book attend chiefly to literary texts, but which can be applied beyond a strictly literary context to other cultural phenomena. The book introduces some major areas of enquiry within postcolonialism, as well as offers concrete examples of various kinds of relevant reading and writing practices. It provides a brief historical sketch of colonialism and decolonisation, providing the intellectual contexts and development of postcolonialism. The book approaches various attitudes towards nationalist representations in literary and other writings during the busy period of decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s. It then deals with national traditions and national history, and the conflict between national liberation and imperialist domination. Divisions within the nation such as ethnicity, language, gender and eliteness which threaten the realisation of its progressive ideals are discussed, with attention on Partha Chatterjee's narrative of Indian nationalism and Chinua Achebe's novel Anthills of the Savannah. Other discussions include the re-reading of literary 'classics', the re-writing of received literary texts by postcolonial writers, postcolonial feminist criticism, and migration and diaspora in the context of decolonisation. The 'STOP and THINK' section in each chapter identify focal points of debate for readers to pursue critically.
Theory often eclipses the text, just as the moon's shadow obscures the sun in an eclipse, so that the text loses its own voice and begins to voice theory. This book provides summaries or descriptions of a number of important theoretical essays. It commences with an account of the 'liberal humanism' against which all newer critical approaches to literature, broadly speaking, define themselves. The book suggests a useful form of intensive reading, which breaks down the reading of a difficult chapter or article into five stages, as designated by the letters 'SQRRR': Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. It explains the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The book talks about the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida. It lists some differences and distinctions between structuralism and post-structuralism under the four headings: origins, tone and style, attitude to language, and project. Providing a clear example of deconstructive practice, the book then describes three stages of the deconstructive process: the verbal, the textual, and the linguistic. It includes information on some important characteristics of literary modernism practiced by various writers, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist criticism and queer theory. The book presents an example of Marxist criticism, and discusses the overlap between cultural materialism and new historicism, specific differences between conventional close reading and stylistics and insights on narratology. It covers the story of literary theory through ten key events.
This chapter deals with migration and diaspora primarily in the context of decolonisation. It focuses on the theme of identity, and defines some conceptual tools, such as 'hybridity', 'borders', 'new ethnicities' and 'cultural diversity', that have been pursued in postcolonial studies. The chapter discusses Paul Gilroy's The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness which deals in the main with the ancestors of the African slaves in the Caribbean, the US and Britain. It analyzes Hanif Kureishi's articulation of his identity crisis and the perilous intermediate position that both migrants and their children are deemed to occupy: living 'in-between' different nations. The chapter critically examines conceptual tools and uses them to help us read Beryl Gilroy's novel of diaspora identities, Boy-Sandwich. STOP and THINK sections in the chapter pose questions concerning diaspora identities to assist the reader in making judgements on his own about the ideas raised within postcolonialism.
Ecocriticism as a concept first arose in the late 1970s, at meetings of the Western Literature Association. Ecocriticism takes its literary bearings from three major nineteenth-century American writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. This chapter indicates the scope of some of the debates within ecocriticism concerning the crucial matter of the relationship between culture and nature. Perhaps the most fundamental point to make is that ecocritics reject the notion that everything is socially and/or linguistically constructed. A related issue, which is also thrown into relief by ecocriticism, is whether a distinction is deconstructed into self-contradiction by the fact that it is not always absolute and clear-cut. A STOP and THINK section provides the reader with some ‘hands-on’ experience with the subject discussed. The chapter describes some activities of ecocritics and presents Thomas Hardy's poem 'In Time of The Breaking of Nations' as an example of ecocriticism.
The feminist literary criticism of today is the direct product of the 'women's movement' of the 1960s. In feminist criticism in the 1970s the major effort went into exposing what might be called the mechanisms of patriarchy, that is, the cultural 'mind-set' in men and women which perpetuated sexual inequality. This chapter looks at three particular areas on which debates and disagreements have centred on about feminist criticism: the role of theory; the nature of language; and the value or otherwise of psychoanalysis. It includes a STOP and THINK section to help readers ponder over anti-essentialism which has for some years now been a dominant concept in critical theory. The chapter describes some critical activities of feminist critics and presents an example of feminist criticism by taking the account of Wuthering Heights by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, from their book The Madwoman in the Attic.
This chapter presents a flexible but solid definition of the word 'postcolonialism' by placing it in two primary contexts. The first regards the historical experiences of decolonisation that have occurred chiefly in the twentieth century. The second concerns relevant intellectual developments in the latter part of the twentieth century, especially the shift from the study of 'Commonwealth literature' to 'postcolonialism'. Commencing with a brief historical sketch of colonialism and decolonisation, the chapter focuses on important antecedents for postcolonialism such as the growth of the study of Commonwealth literature and the theories of 'colonial discourses'. Three forms of textual analysis engendered by the turn to theory in the 1980s which became popular in the wake of Orientalism are also discussed. A number of critical works that appeared in the twenty first century attempting to guide readers through the fast-developing, and often abstruse, concepts and new vocabularies of postcolonialism are finally covered.
Beginnings are exciting things, inviting us to explore that which we may not have previously visited; but they also expose us to the unfamiliarity and inevitable disorientation of doing something new. This introduction is an overview of the key themes discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. Beginning Postcolonialism is an attempt to help readers make their own beginnings in one of the most exciting and challenging fields of study that has established itself in recent years. It introduces readers to the various ways they can approach the creative endeavours of those who either come from, or have an ancestral purchase upon, countries with a history of colonialism. The authors also reconsider their approaches to older, more familiar or canonical works that seem to have little to do with the fortunes of British Empire. Readers can build and develop their readings of the range of texts which preoccupy postcolonialism.