Image Source: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/49/140201005_364cc3e832.jpg?v=0
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. ISBN: 0415974100.
[This is your textbook about critical theory as applied to literature].
Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan, eds. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. ISBN: 1405106964.
[This is your collection of primary sources about literary theory as written by the pioneers and theorists who helped develop them. Use these as your primary sources for your papers].
Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory. 5th ed. New York: Pearson, 2008. ISBN: 032144907X.
[Recommended but not required--Very easy to read! Please order this from Interlibrary Loan in our Library if the price is too hefty].
ENG 435 Students,
In this entry, you will . . .
. . . be entering:
 Your two self-designed reading-response questions (short answer) based on the "overview" summaries of this theory you were assigned from various textbooks. Due in the comment box here AND in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com on the day BEFORE the class meeting they are to be used.
 Your two self-designed discussion questions (longer answer) based on the application of specific terminology from this particular theory toward the primary works we have read for this course. Due in the comment box here AND in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com on the day BEFORE the class meeting they are to be used.
 your precis of the article assigned to you from the Rivkin and Ryan anthology about this particular theory. Due in the comment box below, in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com, AND as a hardcopy in class according to the deadline listed on our itinerary (see syllabus). Be prepared to discuss your article with the rest of the class.
Artist: Kate Kretz, "Blessed Art Thou", 2006. Image Source: http://www.emsah.uq.edu.au/celebritycolonialism/design/pc_1.jpg
*Here's a high school student's attempt to apply Postcolonial theory to the Great Gatsby. Not bad, considering his age and level of maturity (notice his mispronunciation of Buchanan). Any any event, if he can do this, so can you!
Video URL Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRo8ASZqXJM
Posted by lhobbs at March 3, 2009 04:07 PM
LEAVE A COMMENT:
4th March 2009
1. For Postcolonial critics, to what does the term cultural colonization refer?
- Following decolonization of a land, the colonizer country’s system of government and education, values, and morals have still been indoctrinated into the culture and “even physical appearance of foreign subjugated peoples” (Tyson 419).
2. Which phenomenon do postcolonial critics mention occurs when colonized individuals attempt to imitate their colonizers through dress, speech and behavior and thus “desire…to be accepted by the colonizing culture” while experiencing “shame…concerning their own culture, which they were programmed to see as inferior” (Tyson 421)?
Posted by: Cecilia at March 3, 2009 11:15 AM
Questions for Post Colonial Criticism
Q: Postcolonial criticism helps readers make a connection between literature and experience. In particular, it is effective with helping one understand how all domains of human’s experiences are connected. Name two of the six domains that Tyson listed (p. 417).
A: psychological, ideological, social, political, intellectual, and aesthetic.
Q: Why does a piece of literature not have to be categorized as postcolonial for readers to be able to use postcolonial criticism to understand it? (p. 418).
A: This is because colonialist and anticolonialist ideologies are not solely reserved for postcolonial literature; these ideologies can be found in any literary works.
Posted by: Jessica Pall at March 3, 2009 06:39 PM
March 3, 2009
What is the colonialist ideology? A Discourse that marks the relationship to language in which Colonialist though is expressed.
What is Othering?
Separating "us" from "them." A technique to colonize other people.
Describe the double consiousness? This is the ability of the colonized to maintain two antagonistic paradigms; that is, in attempting to imitate their colonizers, natives will utilize their own cultural paradigms and those of the colonizers.
Posted by: Wesley J at March 3, 2009 08:20 PM
1. Explain colonialist ideology.
A. Colonialist ideology, also known as colonialist discourse, is the colonialist’s assumption of their superiority over the native people from the land they invaded. The colonialist believed they were civilized when compared to the native “barbarian” savages. Furthermore, they considered themselves the proper “self” and the natives were the “other’s” who were considered less then human.
2. What is the direct result of economic domination and explain it?
A. Cultural imperialism is the result of economic domination from the invader colonies. It results from the takeover of one society over the other and ranges from food to cultural customs.
Posted by: Kristin B at March 3, 2009 10:09 PM
3 March 2009
Postcolonial Criticism Quiz Questions
Q: What is meant by the “othering” term orientalsim? (Tyson 420)
A: This occurs when, in the attempt to create a positive self image, Western nations project their own negative qualities on Eastern nations.
Q: What does the term Cultural Imperialism mean? (Tyson 425)
A: This occurs when one culture “takes over” another, influencing food, clothing, customs, recreation, and values of the dominant culture.
Posted by: Travis R at March 3, 2009 10:59 PM
March 3, 2009
1. In Tyson’s text, how is the term “formerly colonized people” defined as? (417)
2. What is orientalism as defined by Tyson? (420)
Why does Tyson think that postcolonial status should be reserved for Third and Fourth World writer? (424)
Posted by: Liz H at March 4, 2009 09:37 AM
4 March 2009
Post-Colonial Reading Check Questions
Q: Explain the four worlds of Post-Colonialism.
A: 1) Britain, Europe, and the US
2) white populations of Canada, Australian, New Zealand, and Southern Africa
3) developing nations (Central/South America, Southeast Asia, etc)
4) indigenous populations subjugated by white settlers
Q: Describe the concept of double consciousness.
A: It is a way of perceiving the world in a divided manner between two opposing cultures. These cultures are of the colonizer and the indigenous culture which leads to an unstable sense of self among the native people.
Posted by: Sarah T. at March 4, 2009 10:49 AM
3 March 2009
Reading Check Questions on Post colonialism
1.Why is it difficult for post colonists to reclaim a pre-colonial past?
A.A pre-colonial past id difficult to discover because a great deal of pre-colonial culture gets lost generations after generations from colonial domination.
2.What is the difference between being homeless and unhomed?
A.Homeless literally means without a physical home. Unhomed means the feelings of not belonging in one’s home regardless of being physically present. The individual does not feel a sense of belonging in his or her culture.
3.Post colonial literature was referred to by a different name until the 1980’s. What was the name?
Posted by: Ava at March 4, 2009 11:46 AM
8 March 2009
Précis: “Decolonizing the Mind”
The Article “Decolonising the Mind,” by Ngugi wa Thiong’ o, emphasizes the process by which African literature has been shaped, or colonized, by English influences (Thiong’o 1127). Ngugi wa Thiong’ o pays specific attention to the language in which African literature is conveyed. Of course, that language is English. Thiong’o’s article is interested in the theoretical colonization that occurs when one group lords over another and shifts the mindset of the colonized people.
“Decolonising the Mind” begins with the establishment that one’s language is central to the definition of oneself. So, by allowing English to be the way by which one communicates, one is being subjected to the culture that is conveyed by English. Failure to recognize the heritage, in this case African, and preexisting language, is allowing oneself to be colonized. Thiong’o notes that much concern with African literature initially failed to recognize that the literature was not even presented in an African dialect or language (Thiong’o 1130). Everything was in English. Little if any concern was given to this fact. Thiong’o recognizes that this illuminates the extent to which European colonialization effected the African peoples.
The process of colonization destroys not only heritage, but language, too. In that, culture is eliminated. Thiong’o is careful to instruct that language is dual purposed. On one hand it is a communication tool. On another level, it is a way of communicating culture. Therefore, as the African language is destroyed, so is the culture. The extent to which English was forced upon African peoples was so intense that students in public education in Africa would fail to reach high school even if they excelled in all aspects of schooling except English. This type of indoctrination destroys one’s emotional connection to language and virtually produces machines (Thiong’o 1135).
“Decolonising the Mind” ends on a more positive note, though. Thiong’o notes the historical range of African literature. He categorizes the internationally sympathetic literature and the racist assessment of African peoples. Thiong’o ends the article on the notion that contemporary literary examination has split English departments and now African literature is being properly examined. Finally, the mental colonization of the African peoples is being extensively studied.
Thiong’ o, Ngugi wa. “Decolonising the Mind.” (1986) Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1126-1150.
Posted by: Wesley J. at March 8, 2009 06:38 PM
8 March 2009
Reading the Signs
According to Homi K. Bhabha in his essay “Signs Taken for Wonder” the English book is a sign of mistaken wonderment for those who are unaware of what it represents (Bhabha). Bhabha describes a retelling of Anund Messeh’s (one of the earliest Indian catechists) experience with a group of 500 Indian men, women, and children who mistook the discovery of an English replica of the gospel as a wondrous sign from Jesus. The Indian people recopied the version of the gospel that had been distributed at Hudwar six years prior and believed it to be a direct sign from God. Messeh attempted to explain to the Indians that it was merely a copy, however, the Indians refused to believe him. Almost one hundred years later in 1902, Joseph Conrad Marlowe experienced a similar situation. Marlowe was traveling through Congo and came upon Towson’s Inquiry into Some Points of Seamanship. Fifty years later a young Trinidian discovered Towson’s book and was experienced the same bewilderment. What Bhabha states are that “these types of texts from the civilizing missions, express the triumph of the colonialist moments in early English Evangelism and modern English literature. The discovery of these book instills the sign of appropriate representation for the word of God, truth, art creating the conditions for the beginnings, and the practice of history and narrative” (Bhabha 1169).
Bhabha argues that though the discovery of these books initiated the advancements of civilizing, individuals in the wild were only subjected to portions of literature (Bhabha 1169). Bhabha believes that while the English book “is presented as universally adequate, it shed only a small portion of light on literature” (Bhabha 1169). The English book imposes “a sense of right conduct and honor only achievable through the acceptance of customary norms which are the signs of culturally cohesive civil communities” (Bhabha 1170). The problem with impeding the images of the English book in lands such as Africa, the Caribbean, and India with is that “such images can be neither original-by the act of repetition that constructs it- nor identical –by virtue of the difference that define it” (Bhabha 1171). Bhabha further asserts that “the colonial presence is always ambivalent” (Bhabha 1171) because the civilizing of foreign lands is always a repetition of the images that the English want to impose.
This imposition creates hybridity in other cultures. It creates cultural colonialism. Although the English book does encourage civilizing, it “discriminates against alien cultures and the mother culture (England)” (Bhabha 1174). The result is a mimetic effect. The hybridity that results from the merging of two cultures results in the loss of discourses. Bhabha sees this as a problem because “the differences of cultures can no longer be identified or evaluated as objects of epistemological or moral contemplations: they are simply no longer there to be seen or appropriated” (Bhabha 1177). The civil colonizing of alien cultures creates a hierarchy of power which almost completely eliminates alien culture practices and beliefs. It creates a form of nationalism which recognizes the mother culture (England) as superior to the alien cultures. Often such attempts create not only hybridity but also doubling and mimicry. Some alien cultures adopt certain characteristics from the mother culture while attempting to maintain some of their own customs and beliefs. Mimicry creates a “camouflage effect, in the strictly technical sense” (Bhabha 1182). What takes place is the residual remains of the alien culture are presented. The English book marks the igniting of conversion away from alien cultural beliefs and paves the way for conversion to English culturalism.
Bhabha, Homi K. “Signs Taken for Wonder.” 1985. 1167-184. Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd ed. Eds. Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan. Blackwell: MA, 1998
Posted by: Ava at March 8, 2009 10:26 PM
9 March 2009
The Art of Othering in Jane Austen
In his essay “Jane Austin and Empire,” Edward Said discusses how art produced by “invading” countries acts as a catalyst for the othering process. Before this can occur, however, a base of origin and an idea of how a country might have viewed itself before colonial expansion should be acquired. In order to do this, Said states that one must look at the works by authors produced before their country’s efforts to impose colonization and see what views they held of themselves as well as of their homeland. Upon scrutinizing the work of these authors, according to Said, one finds positive behavior and good morals— among other “good” character traits and qualities—championed and ascribed to the denizens of the authors’ home. In this way, by only bringing to light the positive qualities of the nation and none of the negative, it becomes easier to other a perceived inferior nation by accentuating the differences between the two and attributing negative perceptions to those differences. This distinguishing of one (“superior”) nation to that of another (“inferior”) nation creates a dichotomy and may cause the colonization of the inferior nation by the superior nation—for the purpose of ruling, studying, and subordinating the population—to be perceived as a less severe matter.
In his essay, Said analyzes the work of English authors, specifically the work of Jane Austen, to further his point. According to Said, Austen had an excellent ability to convey acts that some (perhaps most) might consider immoral and put a more positive shift on the reader’s perception of these acts. Thus, by playing up the English’s positive qualities while simultaneously playing down their negative attributes, the othering process can occur more easily. Drawing on passages from Austen’s Mansfield Park, Said states that Austen, and pre-imperialist novels in general, appear to be more concerned with imperialist expansion than originally thought.
Said, Edward. "Jane Austen and Empire." Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Ed.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1112 - 1125.
Posted by: Travis R at March 9, 2009 09:44 AM
9th March 2009
Précis of C.C. Eldridge’s “The Revival of the Imperial Spirit”
Largely focusing on the early and mid-Victorian years in England, C.C. Eldridge’s brief work of history, “The Revival of the Imperial Spirit,” elaborates on the formation of imperial ideology through a sampling of texts. As Eldridge describes, imperialism originally “focused on evangelical and humanitarian issues” (1091) before concentrating for expansion of the empire. Pulling excerpts from The Edinburgh Review, Lord Tennyson and Wordsworth, and numerous Victorian historians, Eldridge points out the numerous instances where the spreading of Christianity, law, and language, are all regarded as “blessings” (1094) to be shared with mankind. The will of Providence motivated white Englishmen to broaden their cultural teachings since they considered teaching those unexposed to their superior customs to be the greatest act of righteousness.
However, Eldridge also presents the concept of New Imperialism which erupted during the mid-Victorian era and strove to extend empire because of “wholesale starvation, chronic unemployment, and commercial crises” (1096-1097). Eldridge explains that through the colonization of foreign lands Victorians were able to recover their capitalistic failures through trade and emigration. As a result, Eldridge claims the literature of this period following the 1850s depicted settlement colonies as “lands of promise, of prosperity and happiness” (1098). Thus, imperialist ideology was no longer about what England could do for impoverished people, but what their lands and goods could do for England.
Eldridge, C.C. “The Revival of the Imperial Spirit.” 1996. Literary Theory: An
Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell Pub., 1998.
Posted by: Cecilia at March 9, 2009 10:49 AM
9 March 2009
Implications of “Postcolonial”
In 1988, Ania Loomba wrote a book titled Colonialism – Postcolonialism. The section “Situation Colonial and Postcolonial Studies” examines the terminology used in this theory, especially the word “postcolonial” because not all countries have the same experiences concerning colonization.
Before one can begin deconstructing differences in connotation for the word “postcolonial” it is easier to look at the meaning of the word colonial. According to the OED, colonialism means “a settlement in a new country...a body of people who settle in a new locality, forming a community subject to or connected with their parent state” (Loomba 1100). However, the problem with this definition is it avoids the subject of the people being conquered and colonized because in actuality “forming a community” means “re-forming” a community that already exists (1100).
The next step to understanding the term of postcolonial is to look at different examples of colonizations. Before Europe began to dominate different cultures other countries such as the Chinese Empire practiced colonizing. Yet, the difference between the modern colonization of Europe and the early colonization is capitalism. When pre-capitalist countries colonized they wanted to get goods and wealth, while modern colonizing wants to create a symbiotic relationship with the conquered society in order to create a “flow of resources” between the two countries (Loomba 1101).
Now that the foundation of colonialism has been discussed one can begin to understand the different connotations of postcolonial. There are two ways to interpret the term; the first being a temporal definition such as literally “coming after”. The second is ideological and this means that all traces of colonialism should be gone when in reality they are not, therefore, colonialism is not gone. This is also known as neo-colonial because some cultures are still dependent on their conquering country (Loomba 1103).
Another way to view postcolonialism is through the natives that were taken from their country such as the African Americans. They may live in a more “civilized” or metropolitan area but they were still forced to assimilate into a culture other than their own and are doing so still today. This leads to the idea that both the city and the native colony have been affected by colonization and had to be restructured but in different ways.
Loomba, Ania. “Situating Colonial and Postcolonial Studies.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1100-1111.
Posted by: Sarah T. at March 9, 2009 11:53 AM
Précis of “History”
“History,” written by Dennis Walder explores the negative impacts of the colonial experience. In this article Walder specifically focuses on the expansion of the British Empire over America, Asia, and Africa. When Europeans first began to invade Africa and Asia there were many societies flourishing within the countries; however, eventually hegemony gave way to the British overruling. The British Empire felt like it was “riding the wave of destiny” as their territory expanded even further (1079). The majority of the colonies were run like Crown Colonies and the people were not British citizens but were still subjected to British rule. By the end of the nineteenth century most of the world belonged to Britain (1080). However, not all Europeans agreed with the colonizing process. Bartolome de Las Casas spoke out fervently against the European belief of superiority and considered what the British was doing a genocide. The literature that was produced created the terms “Other” (natives considered less then human) and “I” or “We” (the British). Writing from the post-colonial perspective became a way for the voices of the “others” to be heard (1082). Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels is a good example of the “other” voice. Europeans controlled the African slave trade. After losing the colonies in America the British Empire focused on India but eventually the new imperialism gave way to resistance and the Empire became a commonwealth. “Indian independence marked the new, post-colonial era” (1087.)
Walder, Dennis. “History.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. 1075-1089.
Posted by: kristin b at March 9, 2009 12:33 PM
The Principles of Jane Austen and The Empire
Postcolonial critic, Edward Said, argues that all elements in European and American culture demonstrate attitudes that support the idea of an empire. Through examination of English literature, Said claims that readers will find imperialistic themes dispersed and incorporated throughout author’s works.
Jane Austin’s novel, Mansfield Park, is an example of a pre-imperialist novel that demonstrates the theme of imperialism, an attitude prevalent during England and France in the late 18th century. Said, in his article Jane Austen and The Empire, questions how Austen and other authors, who wrote directly prior to major European colonization, portrayed support of their country’s imperialistic attitudes.
Located in England, Austen’s novel primarily takes place at Mansfield Park, although references to different colonies are given. Specifically, the attitude of dominant control was portrayed through the character Sir Thomas, who managed his household with ultimate authority—authority he also used to control his sugar plantation in Antigua. Further, Said claims that the main character Fanny Price also reflected attitudes of imperialism as her situation reflected the larger colonial movements of Sir Thomas.
Concluding, Said questions morality by claiming there is a paradox in reading Mansfield as Austen’s values do not accept slavery. Finding no concrete answer, Said presumes that Mansfield reflects the attitude of Austin’s country, England—a country who relied on their colonies to support their lifestyle.
Said, Edward. Jane Austen and Empire. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1112-1125.
Posted by: Jessica Pall at March 9, 2009 01:21 PM
March 9, 2009
The Angel of Progress: Pit-falls of the Term “Post-colonialism”
In Anne McClintock’s essay, The Angel of Progress: Pit-falls of the Term “Post-Colonialism” (1992), she examines the use of the word “post-colonialism” and how to advance the use of the term, people have struggled, fought, and died for an ideal.
The term, McClintock argues is an exclusivist white term that is Eurocentric in nature. However, if one examines “post colonialism”, then the addition of the word “post” means the time of colonialism is past. McClintock strives to examine the end of colonialism in her essay.
However, McClintock argues that history should not be read as having only one point of view. Yet, for McClintock, the European-white male culture has done exactly that. Her article emphasizes historical contexts with present-day examples of countries struggling to gain “post colonial” status like Mozambique and East Timor. These nations must regain their own sense of identity and ideals. McClintock highlights the fact that women in these nations struggle fiercely, and she presents economic data to further explain the depths of their struggles after gaining their political independence. These countries have to abandon progress (in Western mindset) and settle for being labeled diminutively as poor and as having, “chronically stricken positions in the global hierarchy” (1193). Progress, for McClintock, means that there is something to attain on a linear progression of time. If a culture is progressing, then advancements and improvements are continuously possible. However, the term is too narrow for the nations recently made independent and sovereign. It seems as if McClintock argues that one must change his presuppositions behind the idea of “progress”. By whose standards are we judging the nations of Mozambique and East Timor?
McClintock’s article is especially important because of its present-day examples of the nations that are post-colonial or existing after being ruled over by a more economically/politically influential country for some time.
McClintock, Anne. "The Angel of Progress: The Pit-falls of the Term
"Post-colonialism"" Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell
Posted by: Liz H at March 9, 2009 01:33 PM
10 March 2009
Colonizing and Cloning
According to Lois Tyson’s book Critical Theory Today, “postcolonial criticism defines formerly colonized peoples as any population that has been subjected to the political domination of another population” (Tyson 417). James Joyce’s novel The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man is a good work to apply the postcolonial criticism to. The main character in Joyce’s novel, Stephen Dedalus, is confronted with such dominations from the expectations placed on him by both his father and the society he lives in.
The setting for Joyce’s novel takes place at an all boy’s Catholic boarding school in Ireland. Dedalus’ residence in Ireland is significant to the story because the Irish had long been under the domination of England (Tyson 378). Stephen is sent to school by his father to acquire a deeper understand of the Catholic traditions concerning religion and political knowledge. This seems to be a conflict for Stephen because he has a desire to be an artist. Both his mother and his father try to mold Dedalus into a perfect gentleman, the English man serving as a model. Evidence of such conformity is present when Stephen is preparing to leave for boarding school. His father advises him to avoid conflicts stating that “whatever he did, never peach on a fellow” (Joyce 22). Obviously, that type of behavior was seen as barbarous, which was not befitting of a true gentleman. Likewise, to his father’s advice, his mother advises him to avoid “speaking with the rough boys in the college” (Joyce 22). Stephen’s parents are attempting to refine him, in an attempt to have him prevent being stereotyped as “Irishmen as apes” (Joyce 382). Stephen’s parents are aware of the negative connotations that are applied to the Irish and make no pretense in their desires to conform him.
The college that Stephen attends is the Catholic ruled Clongwones. Catholic rules are to be observed and Stephen is expected to conform to all of those rules. However, this becomes a problem for Stephen because he acquires a deep longing for sexual activity. Stephen struggles for some time with his incestuous desire. He is aware that “he was different from the others” (Joyce 69). In an attempt to stifle his longings he turns to masturbation, which is a sin in the Catholic traditions. As his desires begin to gain momentum, so does the moral conviction he feels for possessing such longings. Stephen succumbs to his sexual desires when he turns to “a young woman dressed in a long pink gown” (Joyce 98), who is presumed to be a prostitute. Stephen realizes that he enjoys engaging in sexual activities. Stephen is aware that this type of behavior is not proper for a gentleman and reinforces the negative perception that is placed upon the Irish by the English. Not only is Stephen refusing to conform to the English impositions, but he is also turning his back on faith, more specifically, the Catholic traditions that were trying to be instilled on the Irish people. Stephen believes that “His sin, which had covered him from the sight of God, had led him nearer to the refuge of sinners” (Joyce 102).
Stephen eventually attempts to conform to the expectations of the Catholic Church after being morally moved by a sermon delivered by the rector concerning Heaven and Hell. After receiving the message from the rector, Stephen begins to re-evaluate his behavior. He becomes engrossed in living as the Catholic Church deems fit, although, his own desires to reject the traditional expectations of Catholicism and pursue his dreams of becoming an artist still linger in him. Stephen eventually recognizes that the Catholic Church, serving as the colonizers,” assumption of their own superiority” (Tyson 419) is something that he is unable to accept. Stephen professes that although he tried to love God, he fails (Joyce 212). He eventually travels to Paris and pursues his dream of becoming an artist.
Joyce’s novel serves as a good text to apply postcolonial criticism to for many reasons. Stephen serves as a representation of those alien cultures that were forced into being colonized by Mother Cultures who believed they were superior to such cultures. The reason for such beliefs is that “colonizing cultures saw themselves as the embodiment of what a human being should be, the proper self; native peoples were considered other, different, and therefore inferior to the point of being less than fully human” (Tyson 420). Joyce uses this misconception throughout his novel to reveal the way that the English saw themselves as superior to the Irish. Joyce also instituted in his novel the mistaken ideology that the Catholic religion superseded any other form of religious practices.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man. Boston, MA: Bedford, 2006. 22-382.
Tyson, Lois. “Postcolonial Criticism”. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. 419-47.
Posted by: Ava at March 10, 2009 06:32 PM
10 March 2009
In Victor Fleming’s film The Wizard of Oz, colonization occurs in a few different instances. However, the colonization in the film is of a more theoretical nature. The most explicit colonization occurs on the behalf of the Wicked Witch. It is through her behavior that one can understand postcolonial theory and its place in The Wizard Of Oz. Throughout the film, the Wicked Witch lords over other characters and attempts to disseminate her culture and ideology onto the various inhabitants of Oz.
Even before she is the Wicked Witch, Mrs. Gulch (in Dorothy’s reality of Kansas) attempts to control and manipulate lives. She is obsessed with removing Dorothy’s dog, Toto (Fleming). Gulch seeks retribution for violence from the dog. Also, Gulch is more powerful in Kansas that Dorothy’s plebian farming family, so she holds the power to lord over them. Eventually, Gulch succeeds in taking the dog, but it escapes.
However, in Oz, the Wicked Witch’s (who is really just a different version of Mrs. Gulch) attempts at colonization become more evident. The Wicked Witch is not content with maintaining the haunted forest. She seeks to spread her culture (which is one of darkness, violence, and horrid cackling) throughout Oz. This is evidenced as she sneaks around attempting to stop the journey of Dorothy (Fleming). The best example is in her control of her minions. The flying monkeys and guards react to her every whim. When she commands, they do. But, as she is removed from power by Dorothy, the colonized are helpless and undirected.
At this moment, the article “Decolonising the Mind” plays a significant role (Thiong’o 1127). The guards have been colonized to the point that they have no idea what to do in the absence of a leader. That is, their mental capacity has been so shifted that without a leader to disseminate orders, they are helpless. This illustrates the extent to which cultural indoctrination (colonization) impacts one’s mind. At this point in the film, because the guards have been othered to the point of being unable to think independently, they bow to Dorothy and pronounce her their new leader (Fleming).
The mental stability of a culture is dependant on the creation of an identity. If a culture is colonized and forced into a belief system, when that system is removed (the death of the Wicked Witch), the colonized cannot be sustained. So, even as one “decolonizes” one’s mind, there must be an ideology to take its place (Thiong’o). Therefore, in the attempts of the Wicked Witch to control and create drone warriors, she successfully colonizes the group of Ozians to the point that they can no longer govern themselves. They lose their ability to make decisions on their own. So, even as Dorothy steps in to decolonize Oz, because of the intense othering that has occurred, she is effectually recolonizing it.
The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939.
Thiong’ o, Ngugi wa. “Decolonising the Mind.” (1986) Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 1126-1150.
Posted by: Wesley J. at March 10, 2009 11:54 PM
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