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Showing papers in "Melus: Multi-ethnic Literature of The U.s. in 1996"



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For instance, Winokur as mentioned in this paper argues that ethnic humor in popular theater has a lot in common with the dialect humor of nineteenth century writers, and it reaches forward as well as backward in the literary humor of writers such as Roth, Heller, Malamud, Bellow and Reed, among others, though not always overtly.
Abstract: The halcyon days of the American vaudeville and burlesque theater, roughly from 1890 through 1910, compose the period in which ethnic humor on stage was most manifest. These decades were also years in which American humor changes significantly, moving away from the familiar literary and journalistic pseudo-folklore, the Yankee and Southwestern wise fools, commonsense philosophers, tricksters and con men, to the more universal "little man" of the twenties and the modernist and post-modernist comedy which would develop after the "golden age" (roughly from the end of the first World War to the early 1930s) (see McLean, Jr., chapter 3, Pinsker). The period was also one in which two other genres, film comedy and comic strips, as well as the popular theater, emerged to compete with the published word and to a lesser extent the platform lecture, as the forum for American humor. While it is easy to see the differences in the humor of the nineteenth century with the emerging "modern" forms, it is important to note similarities and continuities as well and to be reminded that cultural changes take place neither suddenly nor absolutely. All of the familiar characters of earlier American humor can be located throughout twentieth century sources, in all genres, and many important motifs recur as well. In his recent book, American Laughter: Immigrants, Ethnicity, and 1930's Film Comedy, Mark Winokur presents the interesting argument that American literary comedy was always, in a sense, "ethnic," in its contrasting of immigrants to the new land with Europeans and immigrants to the western frontier with more established easterners (23-73, for reference to vaudeville, see esp. 6373). Ethnic humor in the popular theater has a lot in common with the dialect humor of nineteenth century writers, and it reaches forward as well as backward in the literary humor of writers such as Roth, Heller, Malamud, Bellow and Reed, among others, though not always overtly.

29 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For instance, the authors found that almost anyone to whom I mentioned the topic freely offered a joke or two for my "research" and found that ethnic jokes can not only be not offensive or bigoted, they can serve as an important strategy for defining ethnicity positively.
Abstract: I must confess: I have been doing something one is not supposed to do in polite circles -- I have been trading ethnic jokes. Not nasty, mean-spirited attacks, I hasten to add, but ethnic jokes nonetheless, jokes dependent to some extent on assumptions and stereotypes about a wide variety of ethnic groups. This activity might seem fairly suspect among my socially and politically progressive colleagues and friends, yet my confession is not nearly as shocking as my discovery: ethnic jokes can not only be not offensive or bigoted, they can serve as an important strategy for defining ethnicity positively. They can provide a welcome means for asserting pride in one's ethnic identity, rather than serving merely to demean those who are marked as ethnically Other. While writing this article, I found that almost anyone to whom I mentioned the topic freely offered a joke or two for my "research." On one occasion, an entire dinner party engaged in a joke cycle.(1) Each person contributed the answer specific to their ethnic group to the joking question of what constitutes sexual foreplay: "You're writing on ethnic jokes? Like, what's the Italian form of foreplay?'" an Italian-American friend inquired. "What?" In a dialect more Flatbush than Florence, she replied, "Yo, Baby, get ovah heah!" Not to be outdone, her Irish-American boyfriend chimed in, "Well, you know the Irish form of foreplay -- a six-pack." Never having heard these versions, I told the only foreplay joke I knew, the one about my own group. "And then there's the Jewish form of foreplay -- two hours of begging." The jokes themselves provided a discourse within, yet disparate from, the rest of the conversation, as the single act of joke telling spontaneously grew into a joking discourse. Each ethnic speaker told a decidedly American ethnic joke. The Brooklyn accent indicated an Italian-American; a true Dubliner would be drinking a pint of Guinness, not a six-pack; the stereotype of frigid Jewish women is linked to the caricature of the Jewish-American Princess. Thus, each participant in the joking discourse identified with an ethnic heritage that was inseparable from her/his American nationality. The fact that each participant was eager to have her/his group represented in the joke cycle indicates that these jokes, although founded on seemingly derogatory stereotypes, served as an expression of pride in one's ethnicity and an example of the desire to share that ethnic pride with individuals from other backgrounds. This article explores the impulse to use ethnic humor as a vehicle for the assertion of a positive ethnic identity. In "Theories of Ethnic Humor: How to Enter, Laughing," John Lowe argues that literary scholars dealing with ethnic humor in American literature look outside their discipline to find important tools and strategies for their analyses. By incorporating the work of folklorists, anthropologists, linguists, sociologists, and psychologists into literary studies, critics can achieve a greater understanding of how the dynamics of ethnic humor shape literature (Lowe 451-56). Although this essay is intended to contribute to the "interdisciplinary, cross-cultural theory of ethnic humor" which Lowe suggests is needed (455) and includes several sources from outside literary studies, my approach here will largely invert the process he outlines. Rather than exploring literary representations of ethnic humor through interdisciplinary analysis, I will use literary theory to explore individual "joke texts" in order to trace a broader phenomenon: the strategy through which ethnic speakers celebrate identity by telling jokes about their own ethnic group. While I am not addressing humor within specific literary texts, I hope that my work here will serve as a building block for future projects that deal more specifically with "literature" in the traditional sense. The question of what constitutes a literary text has dominated twentieth century literary criticism. …

22 citations



MonographDOI
TL;DR: Wright as mentioned in this paper collects reviews and essays on the art and career of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize, including essays, fiction, and children's collections.
Abstract: This essential book collects reviews and essays on the art and career of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. While she is best known for her poetry, Brooks's essays, fiction, and children's collections have also drawn critical acclaim and are discussed in this volume. Stephen Caldwell Wright's collection gathers essays and reviews from a remarkable range of sources: from long out-of-print journals to the New Yorker. Similarly, it draws from an eclectic group of writers, ranging from Eleanor Holmes Norton to Louis Simpson. The reviews reveal Brooks as a poet who, despite her vast knowledge and classical leanings, remains a voice of and for the people. In 1968, Gwendolyn Brooks succeeded Carl Sandburg as Poet Laureate of Illinois. She has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and has served as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress. Stephen Caldwell Wright is Professor of English, Seminole Community College.

17 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The No-No Boy as discussed by the authors is a bildungsroman that depicts the struggle of a twenty-five year old Nisei, Ichiro Yamada, to accept his wartime actions.
Abstract: On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, setting into motion the mass internment of over 110,000 Japanese-Americans in desolate camps throughout the continental U.S. without trial or charge. Long the victims of racial discrimination, Japanese-Americans found themselves during the war years the targets of an entire nation's hostilities. Given this negative history, it is somewhat surprising that in contemporary American mythology Japanese-Americans are touted as a "model minority," praised in the popular media as having overcome racial and cultural barriers to assimilate into American society.1 This veneer of success, however, masks schisms in the Japanese-American community. John Okada's 1957 novel No-No Boy provides insights into these divisions. It shatters the image of a docile "model minority" and instead depicts a bitterly divided Nikkei community, plagued with self-hatred and uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of World War II.2 Set in Seattle at the war's end, this bildungsroman focuses on the struggle of a twenty-five year old Nisei, Ichiro Yamada, to accept his wartime actions. The double negative of the title refers to two questions which all internees over the age of 17 were required to answer. The first question read: "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?"3 The other asked: "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and foreswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?"4 These questions were asked within the confines of internment camps, after the government had summarily ordered all Japanese-Americans on the West coast from their homes and businesses, violating numerous Constitutional rights. The government demanded either "Yes" or "No" answers, denying internees the opportunity to voice their complex reactions to these questions.

16 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The post-modern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he writes or the work he creates is not in principle governed by pre-established rules and cannot be judged according to a determinant judgment, by the application of given categories to this text or work.
Abstract: The postmodern would be that which in the modern invokes the unpresentable in presentation itself, that which refuses the consolation of correctforms, refuses the consensus of taste permitting a common experience of nostalgia for the impossible, and inquires into new presentations-not to take pleasure in them, but to better produce thefeeling that there is something unpresentable. The post-modern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he writes or the work he creates is not in principle governed by preestablished rules and cannot be judged according to a determinant judgment, by the application of given categories to this text or work. Such rules and categories are what the work or text is investigating. The artist and the writer therefore work without rules and in order to establish the rulesfor what will have been made.

15 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Cisneros's work as mentioned in this paper includes frequent references to the specificity and difference coded into any and all languages, to the violence of inadequacy of translation and interpretation; to the translator's and, by extension, the writer's unfaithful role as betrayer of the culture's inside secrets; and to the existence of encoded messages.
Abstract: scribe as the "antagonistic" yet potentially "positive" relationship of minority to dominant linguistic and cultural codes (153), are critical matters in Woman Hollering Creek. The text includes frequent references to the specificity and difference coded into any and all languages; to the violence of inadequacy of translation and interpretation; to the translator's and, by extension, the writer's unfaithful role as betrayer of the culture's inside secrets; and to the existence of encoded messages, which are more accessible to readers familiar with various insider codes and cryptographic devices deployed in the text. These attributes Cisneros's text shares with texts by other Chicano, Latino, and minority writers, who implicitly or explicitly refer to their own ambiguous relationships to both dominant and subordi

15 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Li-Young Lee's two prize-winning books of poetry, Rose (1986) and The City in which I Love You (1990), contain processes of self-exploration and self-invention through memories of life in exile and experiences of disconnection, dispossession, and alienation as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Li-Young Lee's two prize-winning books of poetry, Rose (1986) and The City in Which I Love You (1990), contain processes of self-exploration and self-invention through memories of life in exile and experiences of disconnection, dispossession, and alienation.1 While providing him with a frame of reference to explore the self, autobiographical materials in his poems also serve as a point of departure for Lee to re-define and re-create the self as an immigrant in America and as a poet. At the same time, the process of Lee's construction and invention of identity is accompanied by his development of a set of poetic strategies through which the acquired knowledge and identity are forcefully articulated and expressed. However, both Lee's identity re-creation and his poetic innovation are overlooked by critics who attempt to explain his poetry by emphasizing his Chinese ethnicity. In his complimentary foreword to Rose, Gerald Stern writes that what "characterizes Lee's poetry," among other things, is "a pursuit of certain Chinese ideas, or Chinese memories...." For Stern, Lee's father and his Chinese cultural heritage are fundamental components to his poetry: "Maybe Lee-as a poet-is lucky to have had the father he had and the culture he had. Maybe they combine in such a way as to make his own poetry possible. Even unique" (9). Stern's attribution of the making of Lee's poetry and its characteristics to his Chinese heritage is reiterated by L. Ling-chi Wang and Henry Yiheng Zhao, editors of Chinese American Poetry: An Anthology (1991), who claim that the unique "quality" of Lee's poetry "boils down to 'a pursuit of certain Chinese ideas, or Chinese memories."' To illustrate what they mean by the Chineseness in Lee's poetry, Wang and Zhao cite Lee's poem "My Indigo" as an example.2 Lee's method of expressing his feelings and state of mind by describing a phenomenon in nature in this poem may be borrowed from Chinese classical poetry. But rather than showing any particular "Chinese ideas," the directness of erotic feelings and the

14 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In particular, the psychoanalytical essays attempt to understand how Annie John, the lead character, could at the same moment both love and hate her mother with equal intensity.
Abstract: Shortly after its publication in 1983, Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John received high praise from critics who welcomed the verve and strength of this new, black female voice. Even though reviewers differed in regard to the novel's political, cultural, and ideological themes, a clear majority of them agreed on the central importance of Kincaid's conflictual presentation of the mother-daughter relationship. And for good reason. Kincaid's involved descriptions of familial alliances generate provocative psychological interpretations. For example, in the novel's earliest full page review, Susan Kenny announces how Annie John provides "valuable insight about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters" (6). Roni Natov simply states that "Annie John is a fully developed psychological study" (1). Much of this fascination comes from the intensity, range, and paradoxical quality of Kincaid's mother-daughter bond. In particular, the psychoanalytical essays attempt to understand how Annie John, the lead character, could at the same moment both love and hate her mother with equal intensity.1 And yet, such a singular approach fails to address other pertinent issues. Even though motherchild concerns do seem to call for developmental readings, the novel's concern with self-identity also brings it into a second arena: the Bildungsroman. Of course, this "coming of age" literary convention differs significantly among nationalities and periods, but some broad characteristics do seem to cross cultural lines. A sensitive child-hero begins his life in a provincial area where he quickly perceives constraints on his "natural" development. He grows frustrated with his family, school, and friends. Finally, at a fairly early age, he leaves the repression of home for the "real" education that occurs in a sophisticated, worldly, and often urban setting.2 Annie John more or less follows this "romantic" scheme. I invoke the metaphor of romanticism here because the

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In The Salt Eaters (1980), Toni Cade Bambara fuses the poetics and politics of postmodernism to create a text exploding with power, yet with a message that is balanced precariously between despair and hope as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: In The Salt Eaters (1980), Toni Cade Bambara fuses the poetics and politics of postmodernism to create a text exploding with power, yet with a message that is balanced precariously between despair and hope. Bambara writes to produce "stories that save our lives" (Evans 47), in other words, narratives that will generate energy for political and social change. Bambara's nationalist and feminist positions inform the text of The Salt Eaters (which functions simultaneously as a critique of and tribute to political movements); overlooked in critical analyses of the novel, however, are Bambara's ecological and ethical concerns about nuclear energy and its destructive by-products. In discussing the global questions that the novel raises, Bambara suggests that the novel is "an attempt to sound the alarm about the ineptness and arrogance of the nuclear industry and call attention to the radical shifts in the power configurations of the globe and the massive transformations due this planet in this last quarter of the twentieth century" (Tate 24). Now, in the last decade of the twentieth century, it is perhaps more urgent than ever that we examine the implications of Bambara's representation of power. In The Salt Eaters, nuclear energy, power produced by fragmentation (i.e., the splitting of atoms), functions as the dominant metaphor, representing complex and connected political concerns within the postmodern poetics of a fragmented text.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Roth's early, realistic novels (Goodbye Columbus, 1959; When She Was Good, 1967; Portnoy's Complaint, 1969) and his political and social satires (Our Gang, 1971; The Great American Novel, 1973) are more traditional than his novels of the 80s and 90s (The Ghost Writer, 1979; Zuckerman Unbound, 1981; The Anatomy Lesson, 1983; The Prague Orgy, 1985; The Counterlife, 1987, Deception, 1990; Operation Shylock, 1993; Sabbath's Theater, 1995)
Abstract: Critics have praised Philip Roth as one of the major Jewish American novelists, together with Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow. Reviewers often compare Roth's style to that of a stand-up comic. His career has been summarized as starting in 1959 as a comic realist, Theodore Dreiser meets Jackie Mason, and culminating in something much more postmodern, the deconstructionists meet Jackie Mason. Roth's early, realistic novels (Goodbye Columbus, 1959; When She Was Good, 1967; Portnoy's Complaint, 1969) and his political and social satires (Our Gang, 1971; The Great American Novel, 1973) are more traditional than his novels of the 80s and 90s (The Ghost Writer, 1979; Zuckerman Unbound, 1981; The Anatomy Lesson, 1983; The Prague Orgy, 1985; The Counterlife, 1987; Deception, 1990; Operation Shylock, 1993; Sabbath's Theater, 1995). The subject matter of the later novels is the comic handling of fictional systems themselves. Novels engage in postmodern experimentation with multiple narrators in terms of their comic consciousness of their own fictivity. These novels explore all possible ways of doing narrative, as well as the connection between the told and the teller (exhibiting Roth's playfully comic use of details from his own life and even the use of his own name, as in Deception and Operation Shylock). Roth's comedy and satire are often directed at Jews and their customs. His use of Jewish stereotypes for scathing humor has alienated and angered some members of the Jewish community shaken by the Holocaust. The eminent critic Irving Howe, in "Philip Roth Reconsidered," called Portnoy's Complaint "a vulgar book" (77) and denounced Roth's shallow treatment of Jewish life. The essay set the tone for criticism by the Jewish citizenry, which was enraged by Roth's use of offensive traits for hyperbolic comedy, e.g., materialism in Goodbye Columbus; sexual preoccupation in Portnoy's Complaint; vitriolic quarreling in Operation Shylock; scandalous philandering in Sabbath's Theater.

Journal ArticleDOI
Juliana Chang1
TL;DR: In the early 1970s, the anthology Time to Greez! Incantations from the Third World (1975), focusing on U.S. "Third World" writing and edited by a multiracial collective, included mainly poetry.
Abstract: In the 1960s and 1970s, with the historic emergence of racial and ethnic consciousness movements in the United States, poetry was considered an important vehicle for expressing the politicization of race. Indeed, this poetry could be viewed as a "racial project" in race relations theorists Michael Omi and Howard Winant's sense of forging links between cultural representations and social dynamics of racial inequality and racialized empowerment. Poems were read at rallies, fundraisers, and other events, and circulated in independent low-budget racial and ethnic publications. Rodolfo Gonzales's Yo Soy Jouquin/I am Jouquin (1972 [1967]) is a prime example of a poem that was valued for articulating a cultural and political subjectivity and history that had previously been marginalized. The anthology Time to Greez! Incantations from the Third World (1975), focusing on U.S. "Third World" writing and edited by a multiracial collective, included mainly poetry. Although published in 1984, Audre Lorde's argument that poetry is a genre suited to those with few material resources and little uninterrupted time might have been formulated by her observation of emergent racialized and gendered poetries during this earlier period. "Of all the art forms, poetry is the most economical. It is the one which is the most secret, which requires the least physical labor, the least material, and the one which can be done between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway, and on scraps of surplus paper." Poetry, Lorde argues, "has been the major voice of poor, working class, and Colored women" (116). Lorde's well-known formulation that "poetry is not a luxury" posits that the knowledges conceived and produced by poetic discourse are vital to the cultural survival of marginalized peoples. We can see an apparent turn away from poetry toward prose, however, beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when prose fiction became a prevalent means of circulating narratives of racial difference among a larger audience. Immensely popular works of this period, Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior were "crossover hits" that were considered successes in the mainstream marketplace, i.e., among consumers not necessarily of the same racial identity as the authors. No longer mainly the political tools of "movement" audiences, narratives of race became explicitly commodified and promoted by publishing corporations to white as well as nonwhite readers and to secondary- and college-level educational institutions as teaching materials. When we consider what works are de rigeur in the multicultural literature curriculum and in multicultural literary studies, we think mostly of prose fiction and nonfiction: Richard Wright's Native Son, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, essays by Richard Rodriguez, Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Beloved, Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, in addition to the above-mentioned titles by Walker and Kingston. I give this recent historical account of the genres in which we "read race" in order to situate my project of reading Asian American poetry within the context of Asian American and multicultural literary studies. What accounts for the contrast in the reception of prose versus poetry within multicultural literary studies? What difference does it make to specifically recognize poetic practices as part of racial, and specifically Asian American, discourse? 1 When Asian American literature is recognized at all as a body of work distinct from Asian literature, it is assumed to be a recently invented and individualistic phenomenon, associated with the names of bestselling authors Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. Those that are aware of specific Asian American poets again often assume that the body of Asian American poetic writing originated in recent volumes of poetry by individual critically-lauded writers. …

Journal ArticleDOI
Edyta Oczkowicz1
TL;DR: Lucy as mentioned in this paper explores the possibilities of transcending the heroine's post-colonial predicament by rejecting her former identity and alienation from the past and much of her present experience, which, in turn, allows her to re-invent her self and create a new future.
Abstract: In her potent essay "On Seeing England for the First Time," Jamaica Kincaid writes: "The space between the idea of something and its reality is always wide and deep and dark" (37). Her reflection delineates the "space" of complex post-colonial experience which has captured and shaped the lives of many peoples colonized since Christopher Columbus's first conquests. Born on Antigua, a former British colony, Kincaid, as both a writer and an individual, struggles with her legacy of post-colonialism. A Small Place (1988) is her insightful critical analysis of political, historical, and cultural aspects of the post-colonial reality on Antigua. Her collection of short stories, At the Bottom of the River (1978), and the first novel, Annie John (1983), deal with her Antiguan childhood and adolescence. All of them represent an attempt to define the most vital aspects of post-colonial experience: psychological, cultural, and social marginality; political exclusion; racial and sexual discrimination; and the domination by the white man and his culture. Lucy (1990) picks up at the point where all her previous works ended and explores the possibilities of transcending the heroine's post-colonial predicament. Upon immigrating to the United States, a young West Indian woman begins her painful and lonely search for identity. Her struggle for personal freedom and independence entails total, self-imposed separation from her family, particularly her mother, and a commitment to complete detachment. Such rejection of her former identity and alienation from the past and much of her present experience grant Lucy the independence and freedom to assert herself in a position of control and power, which, in turn, allows her to re-invent her self and create a new future. But her re-invention would not be

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In a nationally telecast space to earth telephone conversation, Indira Gandhi, (then prime minister of India) spoke with Rakesh Sharma, the first such conversation that was relayed live to millions of Indians.
Abstract: In April 1984, India sent her first astronaut, Rakesh Sharma, into space in the U.S.S.R. space craft "Soyuz T-11/Salyut-7." In a nationally telecast space to earth telephone conversation, Indira Gandhi, (then prime minister of India) spoke with Sharma-the first such conversation that was relayed live to millions of Indians. The highlight of this televised event was when Mrs. Gandhi asked Sharma (in English): "Tell us, what does India look like from space?" Sharma's quick response was the first line of a popular patriotic song (in Hindi) "Sarey jahaan sey achha, Hindustan hamara" [Better than all the universe, is my/our India].1 Sharma's seemingly unrehearsed comment was a perfectly patriotic utterance because it was delivered from his vantage point in space: distance and technology, one wanted to believe, gave him proper perspective. He had subjected the words of a nationalist poem to the most exacting test possible and declared the sentiment true.2 And as the newspapers announced the next day, Indians were amused, even moved, but chose to believe. Better than all the universe indeed. Such is the hold that fictions have on us.

Journal ArticleDOI
Beth Harrison1
TL;DR: This paper studied how Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Hunter Austin used their training in ethnography to develop new fictional forms and found that they were influenced both directly and indirectly by new anthropological concepts developed by Boas and his contemporaries.
Abstract: As "regional" or "ethnic" writers, Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Hunter Austin have suffered from a neglect of their literary strategies in favor of an analysis of the cultural context of their narratives. By focusing on the incorporation of this content, we might reconsider the place of each author in the modernist canon. Far from simply recording or romanticizing "primitive" African and Native American cultures, these two authors critique the relationships among narrator, subject, and audience and construct complex narrative structures which incorporate oral forms. Their narrative techniques link them to so-called high modernists like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and William Faulkner, whose experiments with multiple points of view and oral narrative are not, consequently, unique. Although modern psychology's influence on the development of stream of consciousness narrative is widely recognized, anthropology's effect on fiction writers of the modernist period is often overlooked.1 Many people know that Zora Neale Hurston trained under anthropologist Franz Boas at Columbia University in the late 1920s, and some literary critics have studied Hurston's anthropological writings. But few have focused on how Hurston used her training in ethnography to develop new fictional forms. Likewise, critics analyze Mary Austin's stories about Native American cultures in the southwestern United States without considering seriously how her theories of what she termed "Amerindian" folklore may have affected her own literary methods. Unlike Hurston, Austin never studied directly with Boas or any other anthropologist; nevertheless, as I will demonstrate in this "case study," the two authors were influenced both directly and indirectly by new anthropological concepts developed by Boas and his contemporaries. During the early part of the twentieth century, a schism was occurring in anthropology between the evolutionists and the historians.

Journal ArticleDOI
Janet St. Clair1
TL;DR: Leslie Marmon Silko's second novel, Almanac of the Dead, depicts a nightmarish wasteland of violence, bestiality, cruelty, and crime.
Abstract: Leslie Marmon Silko's second novel, Almanac of the Dead, portrays a nightmarish wasteland of violence, bestiality, cruelty, and crime. Deformed by grotesque familial relationships and debauched by sexual perversion, its characters are incapable of love. Even more chillingly, they seem-except for a few enraged revolutionaries-incapable even of hatred. Almanac reveals an utterly amoral and atomized society in which each isolated member is indifferent to everything but the gratifications of his own enervated passions. He is connected to nothing: all existence outside himself is reduced to a stock of commodities for which he must compete. There is cause to use the masculine pronoun here: Silko's focus of attack is explicitly the misogynistic, arrogantly hierarchical, and egocentric traditions of Western liberal individualism. The rejection and subsequent disintegration of communal tradition and ethical discipline have left a rutting ground for witchery. Silko's monstrous characters demonstrate that the philosophy of the primacy of the individual has in fact stripped individuals of the social and spiritual structures that define their humanity. Redemption depends upon reclamation of what seems irretrievably lost: a credible telos for ordered conduct and the essential interconnections that lend substance and coherence to such conduct.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors suggest some of the things that have already been done with humor in contemporary Jewish-American literature and perhaps to suggest possible new areas of research, and demonstrate the range and the diversity of scholarship in this area.
Abstract: It is necessary for me to start with a disclaimer. This essay is meant only to suggest some of the things that have already been done with humor in contemporary Jewish-American literature and perhaps to suggest possible new areas of research. In no way does it intend to offer new insights or to be comprehensive. I am merely trying to demonstrate the range and the diversity of scholarship in this area. This article is not meant to be read from beginning to end, but is rather meant to be read selectively, with the reader choosing those authors and those critics most relevant to current research concerns and interests.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Cycle Manuscript as discussed by the authors is a collection of fifty-four new and old poems, mostly sonnets, written during the summer of 1943, five years before his death and one year before his baptism into the Roman Catholic Church.
Abstract: During the summer of 1943, five years before his death and one year before his baptism into the Roman Catholic Church, Claude McKay began his "Cycle Manuscript," a collection of fifty-four new and old poems, mostly sonnets (Cooper, Claude McKay: Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance 358-59). He would never see it published. "Too bitter and personal," claimed the editor at Harper's, and Dutton's said his sonnets were not poems at all (qtd. in Cooper, The Passion of Claude McKay 307). In a letter to Max Eastman, editor of the socialist journal The Liberator and McKay's close friend, a frustrated McKay lamented a loss of his "old style," as he appealed to Eastman "to look through" the poems and make any needed "corrections" (qtd. in The Passion 307). Once the fiery poet who could deftly balance lyricism and polemics, McKay now felt "more like Pope and Swift... than like Shelley and Keats and the Elizabethans." Betraying a waning confidence, he welcomed Eastman's judgment: "And the poems! They are wonderful to look at after you chop them up!" (qtd. in The Passion 309). Despite Eastman's emendations, McKay's collection was never published. The work remains a typescript at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. But beyond any question of its literary merit, the "Cycle Manuscript" is an important document that sheds light on the reflections of a sensitive, gifted artist at a dramatic stage in his life.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, Lowe states that "To be funny indicates a lack of seriousness" and that "to be serious indicates that one lacks a sense of self and identity" (4).
Abstract: Fortunately Tutankhamen came to power and the people were allowed to do their stuff, working out this way on the wall in the hall every which-a-way. Maybe the truest thing to be said about racism is that it represents a profound failure of the imagination. In his article "Theories of Ethnic Humor: How to Enter, Laughing," John Lowe states what is the obvious but often overlooked condition of humor: "To be funny indicates a lack of seriousness" (439). It is an apt description of how Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo uses humor to critique Western concepts of self and identity. By signifying on the sign of seriousness, Reed chips away the conventions of unity and coherence from the sphere of identity formulation, thus making possible the conditions of instability and flexibility which can nurture a more fluid and expressive sense of self. But Reed's humor is never content with simply undermining the seriousness of Anglocentric notions of self and identity. Mumbo Jumbo's narrative also lampoons various dimensions of black essentialism, what Henry Louis Gates describes as "the Afro-American idealism of a transcendent black subject, integral and whole ... the 'always already' black signified" (251). Mumbo Jumbo is a text which refuses all ethnocentric identities, even as it celebrates the traces of a web of cultural energy that stretches between North Africa and North America. Indeed, the "Jes Grew" phenomenon, Reed's metaphor for this fluid energy in Mumbo Jumbo, lives within his recasting of thousands of years of black cultural history, from Egyptology to the Jazz Age, into a protean form of personal energy that authorizes self and identity. And the primary condition for maintaining that desired personal energy is laughter. "Jes Grew," that psychic epidemic of the 1920s which wends its way from New Orleans to Chicago and on to New York where it senses its "text" awaits, is an "X" factor," as neo-hoodoo detective Papa LaBas calls it. It is an attitude, rather than a substance; a form, rather than a content; a characteristic which plays a part in Ishmael Reed's vision of individual and collective identities. Gates identifies Reed's novel as a work of "critical signification" not simply because it makes liberal use of the "signifying" trope of black verbal arts, but because "For Reed, it is the signifier that both shapes and defines any discrete signified. And it is the signifiers of the Afro-American tradition with whom Reed is concerned" (251). In the early pages of the novel, the omniscient narrator disparages those who seek "to interpret the world by using a single loa" [spiritual guide] and implies that fixed, rigid definitions of a black essence would be "Somewhat like filling a milk bottle with an ocean" (24). Gates notes the anti-essentialism in Reed's vision of African American experience with a similar image: "Put simply, Reed's fictions concern themselves with arguing that the so-called black experience cannot be thought of as a fluid content to be poured into received and static containers" (251). Nevertheless, through the dazzling and outrageous pages of Mumbo Jumbo ("ma-ma-gyo-mbo,' magician who makes the troubled spirits of ancestors go away"') (9), it is black culture which has historically been the primary "carrier" of this fluid energy, this "epidemic" that has "enlivened the host" ever since Osiris danced in Egypt. Dancing in the novel is, in fact, a parallel metaphor reinforcing "Jes Grew"; and Reed likens specific forms of dance to body laughter. The dances of the Roaring Twenties, like the dances for Osiris and Isis in ancient Egypt, are free, vibrant, and, most significantly, not "serious." As with the "Jes Grew" metaphor, Reed's critique of seriousness through dance metaphors rests largely on his reversals of "high" and "low" culture throughout the novel; and so it is "shaking" and "hully-gullying" which make their ways into the pages of the text, not classical ballet or ballroom dance. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In the second half of the 19th century, a great interest in linguistic variation was displayed in American literature as discussed by the authors, and many of these language experiments were disseminated in small, cheaply made paperback anthologies produced by publishing houses such as Beadle and Adams.
Abstract: The nineteenth century, and particularly its second half, was a period in American literature in which enormous interest in linguistic variation was displayed. Writers experimented with language and used just about every form of expression that fell into their hands. In a sense, they were recorders of the huge linguistic variety that characterized America. Many of these language experiments were disseminated in small, cheaply made paperback anthologies produced by publishing houses such as Beadle and Adams. Often the subtitles of the publications indicated the scope of these little volumes, which typically included writings in "Dutch, French, Yankee, Irish, Backwoods, Negro and other dialects" (Beecher). All literary genres were represented in these compilations, but the texts were usually short, the longest hardly exceeding four pages of print. Anecdotes and short narratives stood beside poems, dramatic dialogues and similar pieces, many of them intended for recitation. It seems that the entertainment value of these texts lay as much in their subject matter as in their linguistic form. A creative use of language was apparently relished by writers and readers alike. People delighted in language for its own sake: "during much of the 19th century, readers in the United States found ... renderings of dialect delicious funny" (Blair and McDavid xxiii), they enjoyed new coinages, comic shouts and mock pompous words. In a way, it looked like the growing nation was surveying its linguistic diversity. To a certain extent, these language games and experiments can be regarded as attempts at finding new forms and ways of expressing the conditions of life in the New World. It may also have been an attempt to challenge the predominance of formalized styles of writing and recitation which had become a symbol of cultural achievement (Blair and Hill 276). Although writing in dialect has been a feature of American literature from its very beginning, the period of the Civil War holds a prominent place in the perfection of the dialect voice. Artemus Ward, Josh Billings, Petroleum V. Nasby and other humorists, generally subsumed under the heading of the Literary Comedians or the "Phunny Phellows," created a humor of verbal expression and relied extensively on "the eccentricities of language" (Pound 257). While many exhausted themselves in deliberate unlettered spellings, the technique rehearsed by these humorists eventually paved the way for the climax of dialect writing in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1884. Apart from the intention of wanting to create funny stories, the urge to use dialect may also have come from a desire to approximate the real speech of real people, the wish to create a literature that depicted its objects more realistically. Local color writers, for example, used the sound of real language to endow regional portrayals with more realistic detail. Harriet Beecher Stowe in Oldtown Folks, George W. Cable in Old Creole Days, and Joel Chandler Harris in his "Uncle Remus" tales all used dialect to boost the lifelikeness of their narratives. While these writers have been examined in the context of the growing literary tradition of the United States, the type of dialect writing that set out to imitate the speech of immigrants has usually been excluded from scholarly scrutiny on the basis of the assumption that this form of expression was nothing but a stock dialect invented to denigrate the foreigner. Customarily, the products of this phenomenon have been brushed aside as low quality productions without merit. This attitude corresponds to the opinion of nineteenth century literary critics and reviewers who, more often than not, slighted the material that was presented in non-standard language. Based on their fixed notions of what literature and drama should be, they generally devalued the literary creations of a host of foreign dialect writers. This was particularly obvious in reviews of plays that relied entirely on dialect. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Cortez's first major poetry reading in the city in 1969 at Yvette LeRoy's Liberty House, Harlem as discussed by the authors established her unique and dynamic presence and became a world-class poet.
Abstract: Jayne Cortez arrived in New York from Los Angeles in 1967, fulfilling a dream. She gave her first major poetry reading in the city in 1969 at Yvette LeRoy's Liberty House, Harlem. I first heard her read the following year at Dr. Generosity's, a cafe on Manhattan's East Side. The series, arranged by the late Paul Blackbum, presented a diverse assortment of already or soon-to-be important younger poets. Invited to read by Toby Olson, Cortez immediately established her unique and dynamic presence. After our first interview (see Heroism in the New Black Poetry, University Press of Kentucky, 1990), I wrote: The development of Jayne Cortez into a major talent has been as dazzling a rise as one might have hoped but not clearly anticipated from her first volume, Pissstained Stairs and the Monkeyman's Wares, in 1969. She came to poetry from acting and began writing in earnest in 1964. Her poems--banners and tributes--call to arms, to appreciation of political and artistic heroes and those of everyday Black life. Her fine ear for music, her dynamic imagery, and her disposition to orchestrate in a broad cultural span, both African and American, have led her social and political concerns into unique and risk-taking forms. By 1988, at her Poets' House lecture and reading honoring Nicolas Guillen, who died the following year, she had become a member of the organization's advisory board and was justifiably introduced as "a world class poet." Cortez was born in Arizona on May 10, 1936, in Fort Huachuca, an army base where her father was stationed. Her siblings include an older sister and a younger brother. Cortez traces her father's family from Virginia and Carolina to Ohio and Arkansas, where they lived for several generations. Her maternal grandfather was born in Tennessee and served in the Philippines. There he met and married Julia Cortez, the poet's namesake, who bore him four children. At Fort Huachuca, Cortez's family lived in "a close community. We knew everyone and everyone knew us. I went to school with mostly black children and some Native American children. We were segregated from the white children, who went to white schools. This was my introduction to segregation," she wryly observes. She attended a one-room schoolhouse, in which one could progress, row to row, through grades one to six. When Cortez was seven, her family moved, first to San Diego ("a very damp place that smelled of fishing canneries") where they lived for nearly a year with her maternal grandfather's family. Her grandfather took note of her personality and her imitations: "You want to be an actress like Lena Home, or somebody." Cortez's family moved to West Los Angeles where she went to school with Black and Japanese-American children who were returning with their parents from World War II detention centers. Later, her family lived in the area of Watts in South Los Angeles, where the poet spent most of her teenage years. Her first book is dedicated to the Watts Repertory Theatre Company. "Most of the pieces in Pissstained Stairs," she observes, "were written for them to perform." Cortez disliked her junior high school, which was a few blocks outside of Watts and populated mainly by white students. "We had integration and segregation and domination at the same time. Blacks were a small minority. When a white kid called me 'rigger,' I had to jump up and beat the hell out of him or her.... My mother was always at the school." Cortez enjoyed her parents' extensive record collection, so that music figured importantly in her childhood. She heard the singing of Ella Fitzgerald and of Billie Holiday and Lena Home, both of whom inspired her; she heard the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Jimmy Lunceford. She "fell in love" with the music of Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, and it was the world-famous jazz of New York that eventually drew her to that city. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The role of traditional gambling practices in Native American Indian culture was explored in three contemporary works of fiction, including Silko's Ceremony, Vizenor's Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart and Erdrich's Love Medicine as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: The rise of high stakes reservation gambling has occasioned new interest in the role of gambling in Native American Indian culture. Since the late 1970s the fortunes of many tribal communities have been bound up with the economic, legal and cultural implications of the gambling trade. Contemporaneous with this development, Native American writers have explored the role of traditional gambling practices in the modern world. In three contemporary works of fiction, Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Gerald Vizenor's Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart (later republished as Bearheart: the Heirship Chronicles) and Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, traditional gambling stories and their attendant practices provide a ritual site where the forces of assimilation are contested. In each, a good gambler is pitted against an evil opponent. The evil opponent is associated with both European American culture and the evil gamblers of Native American tradition. In this way, gambling stories provide a framework to assign value and difference. Because these values and differences are imagined within an indigenous paradigm that "anthropologizes" European American culture, the gambling ritual also provides a means to theorize about the role traditional belief systems might play

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Elena Poniatowska, Mexico's leading woman writer and journalist, gave the following lecture at Hampshire College in the fall of 1991, when she was writer-in-residence at the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: Elena Poniatowska, Mexico's leading woman writer and journalist, gave thefollowing lecture at Hampshire College in thefall of 1991, when she was writer-in-residence at the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts. Her admirationfor Chicana writers has not lessened in the interveningfive years, and, as usual, she has put her money where her mouth is by translating Sandra Cisneros's now-canonical early novel, The House on Mango Street (1989), into Spanish (New York: Vintage, 1994; Mexico City: Alfaguara Literaturas, 1995 [with Juan Antonio Ascencio]. The novel was previously translated and published in Spain in 1992.). I met Sandra Cisneros in 1991 as well, when she gave a memorable reading of Woman Hollering Creek at Mount Holyoke College. Both women have immense charm and humor, and I had the goodfortune to coincide with both of them in Mexico City in January of 1994, just when Elena was finishing her translation of The House on Mango Street. We spent two and a half hours in the lobby of Sandra's hotel, laughing until our sides ached. It was a rare privilege. Elena Poniatowska gave MELUS permission to publish this lecture. It is good to see that some of her remarks then are now out of date, especially when she referred to thefact that no Chicana writer had ever been published in Mexico. She herself has seen to that. Nina M. Scott

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors discuss the need to learn to speak unaccented English-a skill which would typically be learned by the children of immigrants, if not by the immigrants themselves.
Abstract: Jewish-American literature has often detailed ways in which the Jew, in an effort to avoid being the victim of anti-Semitism, has tried to assimilate. In works of first generation writers, such as Abraham Cahan's Yekl, a Tale of the New York Ghetto (1896), Mary Antin's The Promised Land (1912), or Anzia Yezierska's "America and I," (1923)1 the protagonists appear to have an obsessive concern with new clothing so that they will look like Americans, rather than fugitives from the shtetlach.2 These same works also make much of the need to learn to speak unaccented English-a skill which would typically be learned by the children of immigrants, if not by the immigrants themselves. But even those who managed to wear fine clothing or speak the English taught in America's best schools and colleges might still suffer the stings of anti-Semitism. Therefore, in Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus, Brenda Patimkin's nose is bobbed so that her appearance will not reflect her Eastern European Jewish heritage. But perhaps the surest means of transforming the outsider into an insider is through an interfaith liaison, and, therefore, many Jewish American writers have written accounts of Jewish-Gentile love affairs.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Sugimoto's autobiography, A Daughter of the Samurai, was published in 1925, and critics since have sometimes dismissed it as the work of a conciliatory Asian American writer intent on furthering relations between Japan and the United States by lavishing praise upon her adopted country as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Etsu Sugimoto's autobiography, A Daughter of the Samurai, was published in 1925, and critics since have sometimes dismissed it as the work of a conciliatory Asian American writer intent on furthering relations between Japan and the United States by lavishing praise upon her adopted country. Elaine Kim, in her ground-breaking introduction to Asian American literature, situates Sugimoto among the "ambassadors of goodwill," who saw themselves as diplomats whose mission was to gain understanding for their homelands by explaining foreign customs to a Western audience (24).(1) Although Sugimoto does indeed fulfill this role in her autobiography, beneath the bowing facade of a compliant Japanese woman is a wordsmith whose love for and pride in her native culture refuses to be quashed by the weight of American misunderstanding.(2) Throughout her autobiography, Sugimoto gently rebuffs American disapproval of Japanese customs and employs subtle humor to critique America. In doing so, she seeks to establish her identity as an intellectually and morally superior individual who delicately maneuvers the boundaries between two cultures. If we accept Foucault's argument that the control of discourse yields power, then Sugimoto occupies a unique position as both autobiographer and humorist. As autobiographer, she assumes the triple role of author, narrator, and protagonist in her narrative. As humorist, she is teller, audience, and often the butt of her own humor, which both originates from her and frequently situates her as a target through self-effacing criticism of her own actions or Japanese customs.(3) Sugimoto should also be identified as the primary audience of her humor, because none of the reviewers of her day or critics of ours have bothered to mention this facet of her writing. From this site of ultimate control, Sugimoto subtly manipulates discursive positions, moving from the role of a naive immigrant who does not comprehend the laughter of those around her to that of a knowledgeable cultural anthropologist whose own humor is subtle but pointed. It should be understood that Samurai is not a comic text, nor is Sugimoto a comic figure as those terms are usually applied to Western literature. In his study of ancient and early Japanese humor, R.H. Blyth notes that the jokes and antics that often characterize Western comedy are "just wit, without any increase of our wisdom or understanding of life" (162). In contrast, japanese humor tends to contain some deeper meaning that is often didactic or informational. This is not to imply that bawdy witticisms are not also an important element of Japanese humor; however, Sugimoto employs the humor found in classical Japanese literature, which J. Thomas Rimer describes as displaying sobriety and a lack of vulgarity" (16).(4) Her use of a more refined form of humor is in keeping with her purpose to assert her humanity and to establish her moral superiority, as a representative Japanese woman, over an American readership. Ironically, Sugimoto's use of humor to defy American interpretations of Japan mirrors the development of humor in Japanese literature, which evolved as a form of opposition against the very class that Sugimoto represents. During the Tokugawa era (1600-1868), the rapidly expanding merchant class of Edo (now Tokyo) employed humor to express its dissatisfaction with life under samurai rule. The laws of Tokugawa's shoguns centered upon Chinese-derived Confucian traditions that placed restrictive doctrines upon many forms of social behavior. As an escape from moralizing ideology, the masses turned to literature, and jokebooks were produced that gave voice to the merchants' intent to subvert rulers' decrees (Levy 2). As an expression of her dissatisfaction with American responses to Japanese culture, Sugimoto uses humor to explain the Japanese character to an American readership by comparing customs of the West with those of the East and defending the one that she believes to be more practical or moral. …

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TL;DR: The use of the word "nurturing" seems in no way fortuitous, because the United States has both the opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate to this world of emerging representative governments that nurturing variety is central, not marginal to democracy as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: Pat Mora writes in Nepantla: Essays from the Land in the Middle that the United States "has both the opportunity and responsibility to demonstrate to this world of emerging representative governments that nurturing variety is central, not marginal to democracy" (19). The use of the word "nurturing" seems in no way fortuitous, because she recognizes natural and cultural diversity as integral threads of the lifeweb labeled Humanity, which is one thread of a much larger lifeweb labeled Earth. As a result, she calls for emphasizing cultural conservation with the same enthusiasm with which some movements labor for "historical preservation" and "natural conservation" (18). This recognition of the interrelationship of natural and cultural diversity and emphasis on the nurturing practice of cultural conservation are to be found throughout the poetry of Chants (1985), Borders (1986), and Communion (1991), as well as in Nepantla (1993), of which she says: "The essays are about my encounters with my world" (Nepantla 9). Pat Mora is a Chicana who began writing around 1980 and has won awards for both her poetry and her children's books. Born in 1942, she grew up, raised three children, and worked in El Paso before moving in 1989 to Cincinnati, Ohio. She has taught at the high school, community college, and university levels and served in various administrative capacities at the University of Texas at El Paso from 1981 to 1989. Of those years, Mora remarks that "I was fortunate to work on issues of outreach to women and to the local Mexican American population.... For those of us committed to extending the opportunities of the university to our community, it was a frustrating but exciting time to participate in that gradual transformation" (Nepantla 4). "Nepantla" is a Nahuatl word meaning "place in the middle," and Mora makes it clear that she not only recognizes herself as having come from such a physical place, the Tex-Mex borderlands, but also from such a psychic and cultural place as a Mexican-American. Mora seeks in her writing, as well as her life, to conserve the generative tension of the dynamic plurality that is borderland existence. "I am in the middle of my life, and well know," she declares, "not only the pain but also the advantage of observing both sides, albeit with my biases, of moving through two, and, in fact, multiple spaces" (Nepantla 6). One of the dangers of a segment of the natural conservation movement is the recovery or preservation of a small section of a larger bioregion. Tourists can then visit that parcel and experience nostalgia for the rest that was allowed to be destroyed. One can see the same danger evident in urban historical preservation, particularly in historically ethnic areas being crowded out by skyscrapers and highways. As Tey Diana Rebolledo and Eliana S. Rivero observe in the Introduction to Infinite Divisions, "since many freeways in large urban areas were built in the barrios, the freeways often run along Chicano residential areas. In addition, they may have also destroyed much of the older sections of the barrios, thus destroying traditions" (32). And in such urban renewals/removals, one often sees that the buildings preserved as representative of a particular cultural heritage are ones that are of interest to tourists and tourism promoters rather than inheritors of the culture. But Mora is well aware of the danger of token wilderness preserves and Potemkin-village mercados and warns against any idea of recovering the Mexican-American heritage as curio or artifact: "a true ethnic of conservation includes a commitment to a group's decisions, its development and self-direction" (Nepantla 30). Just as the ecology movement warns that biological diversity is crucial to biotic survival, Mora warns that cultural diversity is crucial to human survival, since it actually helps to maintain diversity in general: Pride in cultural identity, in the set of learned and shared language, symbols, and meanings, needs to be fostered not because of nostalgia or romanticism, but because it is essential to our survival. …

Journal ArticleDOI
Naomi Guttman1
TL;DR: Marlene Nourbese Philip as mentioned in this paper explores the particularities of the Afro-Caribbean experience while making connections between patriarchy and oppression of women around the world, and posits a discourse of dissent through the use of history, mythical imagination and interrogation of the dominant and racist discourses.
Abstract: Originally from Trinidad and Tobago and now a Canadian citizen, Marlene Nourbese Philip writes important poetry that knows its own importance. Not satisfied with speaking from the confines of personal experience and memory, Philip is interested in the larger picture: the relationship of citizens of the African diaspora to their past and future through what Toni Morrison has called "rememory," an active revisioning of history and mythology to parallel and counter the myths of Black inferiority. Neither didactic, like much "political poetry," nor focused on the self, Philip's work is moving in its authenticity of voice and its desire to speak to a large audience. She is concerned with the blocked communication of a people who, like the mythological Philomela, have been kidnapped, enslaved and robbed of their tongue, who must re-member themselves in order to conquer their victimization. In her book, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, Philip explores the particularities of the Afro-Caribbean experience while making connections between patriarchy and oppression of women around the world. Against a dominant mythology which is ready to privilege the voice of easy communication and blame the suffering for their silence, Philip posits a discourse of dissent through the use of history, mythical imagination and interrogation of the dominant and racist discourses which keep the silent looking backward. Philip's goal is to force an active reconstruction and questioning of the past, particularly of how the imperialist project succeeded in dominating African slaves through "the logic of language." Hybrid in form-a border text which is neither essay nor poemShe Tries Her Tongue juxtaposes texts from many sources, not always telling the reader the origin of a quotation, sometimes mimicking the discourse of the oppressor in fictitious quotations from fictitious books to jar the reader into recognizing the bitter ironies of the colo

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TL;DR: For instance, Love and stories are both imaginative creations, essentially aware of the presence of The Other, who responds as if this offered figment were real-who observes, judges, and participates, who willingly suspends disbelief and meets halfway as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: Robert Penn Warren's speaker in "Tell Me A Story" calls out for a story to stabilize and center his existence. In "Dover Beach," viewing in his mind's eye the mania of his civilization's future, Matthew Arnold's speaker turns to love for comfort. These two terribly ordinary, time honored, and surprisingly efficacious responses have much in common. Love and stories are both imaginative creations, essentially aware of the presence of The Other, who responds as if this offered figment were real-who observes, judges, and participates, who willingly suspends disbelief and meets halfway. Both depend upon creatively matching intention with reception. Both thrive upon words as metaphors and exhort us to discover some "meaning" beneath words' polysemous characters. (We stubbornly pursue this quest even with cruel lovers and narratives which intentionally deny us access.) Like love, stories bring out humanity's irrational faith in entelechy. And both are backgrounded by cultural expectations transmitted to us through myth. Both are, in sum, exclusively, excessively, and most typically human. As Barbara Herrnstein-Smith points out, it has not been fashionable for the last several decades to evaluate literature (17).1 I, however (like most human beings, I imagine), cannot help doing so. I judge pieces of literature (like love) as more or less satisfying to me, more or less valuable, notwithstanding the fact that the two pieces before me may have been executed with apparently near equal talent, according to whatever "objective" critical criteria I might apply.