This bold and ambitious volume argues that postcolonial historical fiction offers readers valuable resources for thinking about history and the relationship between past and present. It shows how the genre's treatment of colonialism illustrates continuities between the colonial era and our own and how the genre distils from our colonial pasts the evanescent, utopian intimations of a properly postcolonial future. Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical Fiction arrives at these insights by juxtaposing novels from the Atlantic world with books from the Indian subcontinent. Attending to the links across these regions, the volume develops luminous readings of novels by Patrick Chamoiseau, J. G. Farrell, Amitav Ghosh, Marlon James, Hari Kunzru, Toni Morrison, Marlene van Niekerk, Arundhati Roy, Kamila Shamsie, and Barry Unsworth. It shows how these works not only transform our understanding of the colonial past and the futures that might issue from it, but also contribute to pressing debates in postcolonial theory—debates about the politics of literary forms, the links between cycles of capital accumulation and the emergence of new genres, the meaning of 'working through' traumas in the postcolonial context, the relationship between colonial and panoptical power, the continued salience of hybridity and mimicry for the study of colonialism, and the tension between national liberation struggles and transnational forms of solidarity. Beautifully written and meticulously theorized, Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical Fiction will be of interest to students of world literature, Marxist critics, postcolonial theorists, and thinkers of the utopian.
This book analyzes a significant group of contemporary historical fictions that represent damaging, even catastrophic times for people and communities; written “after the wreck,” they recall instructive pasts. The novels chronicle wars, slavery, racism, child abuse and genocide; they reveal damages that ensue when nations claim an exalted, exceptionalist identity and violate the human rights of their Others. In sympathy with the exiled, writers of these contemporary historical fictions create alternative communities on the state’s outer fringes. These fictive communities include where the state excludes; they foreground relations of debt and obligation to the group in place of individualism, competition and private property. Rather than assimilating members to a single identity with a unified set of views, the communities open multiple possibilities for belonging. Analyzing novels from Britain, Australia and the U.S., along with additional transnational examples, Susan Strehle explores the political vision animating some contemporary historical fictions.
The term ‘postcolonial literatures in English’ designates English-language literatures from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania, as well as the literatures of diasporic communities who have moved from those regions to the global north. This volume introduces the central themes of postcolonial literary studies and delineates how these themes are reflected and elaborated in exemplary literary works by postcolonial authors from around the world. It also offers succinct definitions of key terms like Orientalism, hybridity, Indigeneity or writing back.
Reimagining the Eighteenth Century in the Contemporary Historical Novel
Author: Jakub Lipski
Category: Literary Criticism
This book contributes to the development of contemporary historical fiction studies by analysing neo-Georgian fiction, which, unlike neo-Victorian fiction, has so far received little critical attention. The essays included in this collection study the ways in which the selected twentieth- and twenty-first-century novels recreate the Georgian period in order to view its ideologies through the lens of such modern critical theories as performativity, post-colonialism, feminism or visual theories. They also demonstrate the rich repertoire of subgenres of neo-Georgian fiction, ranging from biographical fiction, epistolary novels to magical realism. The included studies of the diverse novelistic conventions used to re-contextualise the Georgian reality reflect the way we see its relevance and relation to the present and trace the indebtedness of the new forms of the contemporary novel to the traditional novelistic genres.
This book demonstrates the epic genre’s enduring relevance to the Global South. It identifies a contemporary avatar of classical epic, the ‘postcolonial epic’, ushered in by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, a foundational text of North America, and exemplified by Derek Walcott’s Caribbean masterpiece Omeros and Amitav Ghosh’s South Asian saga, the Ibis trilogy. The work focuses on the epic genre’s rich potential to articulate postimperial concerns with nation and migration across the Global North/South divide. It foregrounds postcolonial developments in the genre including a shift from politics to political economy, subaltern reconfigurations of capitalist and imperial temporalities, and the poststructuralist preoccupation with language and representation. In addition to bringing to light hitherto unexamined North/South affiliations between Melville, Walcott and Ghosh, the book proposes a fresh approach to epic through the comparative concept of ‘political epic’, where an avowed national politics promoting a culture’s ‘pure’ origins coexists uneasily with a disavowed poetics of intertextual borrowing from ‘other’ cultures. An important intervention in literary studies, this volume will interest scholars and researchers of postcolonial studies, especially South Asian and Caribbean literature, Global South studies, transnational studies and cultural studies.
Textual Moments in the History of Political Thought
Author: Stella Achilleos
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Reading Texts on Sovereignty charts the development of the concept from the classical period to the present day. Defined in antiquity as an absolute or supreme type of power, sovereignty's history has been marked ever since by numerous moments of crisis and contestation through which its meaning has been redefined and reconfigured. Using extracts of key texts selected and analysed by leading contributors from the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Japan, Cyprus, Finland, France, Austria, Israel, and Italy, this volume examines these moments and how different societies have grappled with sovereignty through the ages. The book explores a diverse range of geographical and cultural contexts within which the issue of sovereignty became critical, including ancient China and medieval Islam. In addition, the book includes chapters that respond to the vital interplay between the development of the theory of sovereignty and such momentous historical events and developments as the birth of the democratic polis in the classical world, the legal and political developments that attended the rise of the Roman and Islamic empires, the bitter struggles over sovereign rights between the 'temporal' and 'spiritual' authorities of medieval and early modern Europe, the English Civil War, the French and American Revolutions, and the October Revolution.
Globalization, Utopia, and Postcolonial Science Fiction: New Maps of Hope explores the aesthetic and historical conditions that inform the recent convergence of the seemingly incommensurable domains of the postcolonial Third World and the genre of SF, particularly as expressed in the recent phenomenon of visionary SF narratives originating from postcolonial national cultures. Offering a materialist theorization of this surge of Third-World science fiction supported by careful and penetrating close readings, the book considers its formal emergence as representing a definitive shift in postcolonial literary and cultural production that finds its material provenance in the political, economic, and spatial dilemmas of globalization and its ideological vitality in the enduring project of utopian thought for the post-contemporary present.
Critics have argued that the field of postcolonial studies has become melancholic due to its institutionalization in recent years. This book identifies some limits of postcolonial studies and suggests ways of coming to terms with this issue via a renewed engagement with the literary dimension in the postcolonial text.
A pioneering study of the development of one of the key critical discourses in contemporary Irish studies, this book covers all the major figures, publications and debates within Irish postcolonial criticism, delivering a commentary on this diverse body of work as well as positioning Irish postcolonial criticism within the wider postcolonial field.
This study draws from postcolonial theory, science fiction criticism, utopian studies, genre theory, Western and Indian philosophy and history to propose that Indian science fiction functions at the intersection of Indian and Western cultures. The author deploys a diachronic and comparative approach in examining the multilingual science fiction traditions of India to trace the overarching generic evolutions, which he complements with an analysis of specific patterns of hybridity in the genre’s formal and thematic elements – time, space, characters and the epistemologies that build the worlds in Indian science fiction. The work explores the larger patterns and connections visible despite the linguistic and cultural diversities of Indian science fiction traditions.
In her innovative study of spatial locations in postcolonial texts, Sara Upstone adopts a transnational and comparative approach that challenges the tendency to engage with authors in isolation or in relation to other writers from a single geographical setting. Suggesting that isolating authors in terms of geography reinforces the primacy of the nation, Upstone instead illuminates the power of spatial locales such as the journey, city, home, and body to enable personal or communal statements of resistance against colonial prejudice and its neo-colonial legacies. While focusing on the major texts of Wilson Harris, Toni Morrison, and Salman Rushdie in relation to particular spatial locations, Upstone offers a wide range of examples from other postcolonial authors, including Michael Ondaatje, Keri Hulme, J. M. Coetzee, Arundhati Roy, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Abdulrazak Gurnah. The result is a strong case for what Upstone terms the 'postcolonial spatial imagination', independent of geography though always fully contextualised. Written in accessible and unhurried prose, Upstone's study is marked by its respect for the ways in which the writers themselves resist not only geographical boundaries but academic categorisation.
Assembles for the first time the many different texts imagining the future after the end of apartheid Explores the history of how the future in South Africa after the end of apartheid was imagined Provides the first literary-cultural history of South African speculative fiction Studies the literary-political cultures of the five major traditions of South African anti-colonial/ anti-segregationist/ anti-apartheid thought Focusing on well-known and obscure literary texts from the 1880s to the 1970s, as well as the many manifestos and programmes setting out visions of the future, this book charts the dreams of freedom of five major traditions of anti-colonial and anti-apartheid resistance: the African National Congress, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, the Communist Party of South Africa, the Non-European Unity Movement and the Pan-Africanist Congress. More than an exercise in historical excavation, Dreaming of Freedom in South Africa raises challenging questions for the post-apartheid present.
This study of Janet Frame's fiction addresses with unusual directness the Utopian momentum that underpins her concern with fundamental social issues, traditionally highlighted in existing criticism of her work. The idea behind this book is that Frame's critique of society, while it is offered for its own sake on one level, should not lead us to neglect the author's more speculative interest in an alternative conception of the human person. Her engagement in a species of experimental portraiture proves elusive, though, owing to an indirectness of approach that usually takes the form of thematic circumscription, rather than explicit representation. For example, the figure of the mute child, recurrent in her work, may well testify to a concern with the plight of the mentally ill; but on another level it also points to an envelope of intractable experience which it is the artist's task to penetrate and explain. Such aspiration is inseparable from the search for a new medium of expression, felt to be necessary if one is to meet the challenge of apprehending the scope of pioneering knowledge. This close reading of the novels reveals that the alternative dimension of experience to be found in Frame's novels is characterized by an intact capacity for remembering, or for imaginatively re-creating, eclipsed aspects of the present. Frame's view of Utopia thus turns out to be manifold: it is existential and ontological, linguistic and epistemological, but also historical and political. An unravelling of these intertwined strains then serves to clarify the complex question of Frame's post-colonial sensibility, which cannot be said to rely on a sense of rigid identity, whether national or otherwise.
Postcolonial Studies is more often found looking back at the past, but in this brand new book, Bill Ashcroft looks to the future and the irrepressible demands of utopia. The concept of utopia – whether playful satire or a serious proposal for an ideal community – is examined in relation to the postcolonial and the communities with which it engages. Studying a very broad range of literature, poetry and art, with chapters focussing on specific regions – Africa, India, Chicano, Caribbean and Pacific – this book is written in a clear and engaging prose which make it accessible to undergraduates as well as academics. This important book speaks to the past and future of postcolonial scholarship.
The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction is a comprehensive overview of the history and study of science fiction. It outlines major writers, movements, and texts in the genre, established critical approaches and areas for future study. Fifty-six entries by a team of renowned international contributors are divided into four parts which look, in turn, at: history – an integrated chronological narrative of the genre’s development theory – detailed accounts of major theoretical approaches including feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, postcolonialism, posthumanism and utopian studies issues and challenges – anticipates future directions for study in areas as diverse as science studies, music, design, environmentalism, ethics and alterity subgenres – a prismatic view of the genre, tracing themes and developments within specific subgenres. Bringing into dialogue the many perspectives on the genre The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction is essential reading for anyone interested in the history and the future of science fiction and the way it is taught and studied.
The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature
Author: Nicholas Brown
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Utopian Generations develops a powerful interpretive matrix for understanding world literature--one that renders modernism and postcolonial African literature comprehensible in a single framework, within which neither will ever look the same. African literature has commonly been seen as representationally naïve vis-à-vis modernism, and canonical modernism as reactionary vis-à-vis postcolonial literature. What brings these two bodies of work together, argues Nicholas Brown, is their disposition toward Utopia or "the horizon of a radical reconfiguration of social relations.? Grounded in a profound rethinking of the Hegelian Marxist tradition, this fluently written book takes as its point of departure the partial displacement during the twentieth century of capitalism's "internal limit" (classically conceived as the conflict between labor and capital) onto a geographic division of labor and wealth. Dispensing with whole genres of commonplace contemporary pieties, Brown examines works from both sides of this division to create a dialectical mapping of different modes of Utopian aesthetic practice. The theory of world literature developed in the introduction grounds the subtle and powerful readings at the heart of the book--focusing on works by James Joyce, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Ford Madox Ford, Chinua Achebe, Wyndham Lewis, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Pepetela. A final chapter, arguing that this literary dialectic has reached a point of exhaustion, suggests that a radically reconceived notion of musical practice may be required to discern the Utopian desire immanent in the products of contemporary culture.
Brydon, Forsgren, and Fur’s edited collection, Concurrent Imaginaries, Postcolonial Worlds, demonstrates the productivity of reading for concurrences in studying archives, voices, and history in colonial and postcolonial contexts. This multidisciplinary volume situates Nordic colonial practices within transworld contexts.