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加勒比海地區. World Literatures in English 世界英文文學. 南亞. 種族 & 性別議題. 移 民. 非洲. Fall, 2009 Kate Liu. Outline. Let’s start with three pictures . . . What are “ World Literatures in English ”? Main Concerns : (de-)colonization ; migration ; identity Difficulties and Relevance References.

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World literatures in english


World Literatures in English世界英文文學





Fall, 2009 Kate Liu


  • Let’s start with three pictures. . .

  • What are “World Literatures in English”?

  • Main Concerns:

    • (de-)colonization;

    • migration;

    • identity

  • Difficulties and Relevance

  • References

What do you think about these three images




What do you think about these three images?

World literatures in english 0b e4 b8 96 e7 95 8c e8 8b b1 e6 96 87 e6 96 87 e5 ad b8


Three significant images in the history

Taiwan’s colonization or decolonization?

Yes and no
Yes and no.

  • Yes, because they do mark three important changes in the usages of a sign of political (colonial?) authority.

  • No, because de-colonization is impossible—or an ongoing process and Taiwan’s democratization is not yet well-developed.

  • Are you “colonized”?

  • How is studying English literature connected with colonization?

English literature and colonial education
English literature and Colonial Education

  • Colonial Education/Civilization = done thru’ missionary, medicine and literature, etc.

  • The purpose of colonial education: Macaulay: "We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect." (source)

  • In India: first the Bible, and then English literature, done thru the East India Company.

English literature and colonial education1
English literature and Colonial Education

India -- “Studying English literature was seen as a way of 'civilising' the native population. By 1835, this tactic was made law by the English Education Act, which officially required Indians to study in English and to study English literature. ” (Eaglestone 11)

Taiwan -- In Taiwan: translation of American Modernist literature in the 60’s. (reference:美援文化傳播下的現代主義文學)

Colonization (or neo-colonialism) is inevitable, but we can be self-aware and selective in receiving its influences. One way to do it is to broaden our perspective and avoid US/Japan/Korea fever (understand more cultures than just the dominant ones)

What are world literatures in english
What are World Literatures in English?

  • Two kinds of misunderstanding -- English literature and World literature

  • Definitions (see course intro.)

World literatures in english major concerns
World Literatures in English: Major Concerns

  • 1. (De-)Colonization

  • 2. Migration, Diaspora

  • 3. Identity + Language, Nation, Racial & Gender

Major concerns 1 colonization

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (1) Colonization

  • What is it?

  • Colonization= one nation’s exploitation, control and possession of another nation on the levels of culture, politics and economy.

  • e.g. Slavery and Racism

History of european colonization in brief beginning
History of European Colonization in Brief –Beginning

  • From exploration to trade and invasion/settlement.

  • Columbus’s ‘discovery’ – 1492 (Before him, some Vikings.)

  •  One in three of the indigenous population of Hispaniola were dead within two years of Columbus’s arrival; in 30 years they had all been wiped out. (causes: disease [small pox], torture, imprisonment and mass suicide, Walder 25)

  • (image source)

Major concerns 1 physical and cultural colonization slavery racism

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (1): Physical and Cultural ColonizationSlavery & Racism

Example: (slavery) Mansfield Park

(Left) a boat for the Middle Passage;

Image source: Identity and Difference323

Physical and cultural colonization slavery racism

World Literatures in English

Physical and Cultural ColonizationSlavery & Racism

(Right and Left) evidence for scientific racism

Image source: (right) Identity and Difference 308 (left) “scientific racism”

Major concerns 1 effects of colonization

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (1): Effects of Colonization

  • Unequal Power Relations

    • caused by and/or related to the two above

    • between different cultures, men and women, the colonizer and the colonized, the haves and have-nots, etc..

  • Stereotyping

  • Example:

  • The English Patient

  • The others – Sheltering Sky, Out of Africa, Heart of Darkness

Major concerns 1 effects of colonization stereotyping

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (1): Effects of Colonization -- Stereotyping

  • We were wanderers on prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and excessive toil. But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us – who could tell? (Heart of Darkness –to be cont’d)

Major concerns 1 effects of colonization stereotyping1

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (1): Effects of Colonization -- Stereotyping

  • We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of these ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign – and no memories. (Heart of Darkness 68 – 9)

Major concerns 1 implicit colonization

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (1): Implicit Colonization

  • Dominance and narrow definitions of English and Eng. Literature

    • white man’s burden (assimilationism)

  • (e.g. 1. My Fair Lady; 2. A Passage to India)

  • “The Empire Writes back” --with englishes, parodies, distinct or a mixture of cultures.

Cultural inequality a passage to india
Cultural Inequality: A Passage to India

  • Mrs. Moore: This is one of the most unnatural affairs l have ever attended.

  • Ronny: Of course it's unnatural. Now you see.

  • Mrs. Moore: l do not see why you all behave so unpleasantly to these people.

  • - We're not out here to be pleasant.

  • Mrs. Moore: - Ronny, what do you mean?

  • lndia isn't a drawing room. We're out here to do justice and to keep the peace. l'm not a missionary or a sentimental socialist. - l'm just a member of the civil service.

  • Mrs. Moore: - As simple as that.

  • What do you and Adela want me to do? Sacrifice my career? Lose the power l have for doing good in this country?

  • Mrs. Moore: Good? You're speaking about power. The whole of this entertainment is an exercise in power, and the subtle pleasures of personal superiority. (band pIays ''God Save the King'') God has put us on earth to love and help our fellow men.

Exemplary view of standard english from my fair lady
Exemplary view of “Standard English” from My Fair Lady

  • An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him. The moment he talks, he makes some other Englishman despise him. One common language I’m afraid we’ll never get. Oh why can’t the English learn to— [paying for his coffee] Set a good example to people, who’s English, is painful to your ears. The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears! There are even places where English completely disappears, [receives his change] Why, in America they haven’t used it for years.

Major concerns 2 migration and diaspora

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (2): Migration and Diaspora

  • Five kinds of Diaspora:

    •  Victim(e.g. Jews, Africans, Armenians),

    •  Labour (e.g. Indian, Chinese),

    •  Trade (e.g. Chinese and Lebanese),

    •  Imperial (e.g. the British),

    •  Cultural diasporas—most of our literary writers.

Source: Global Diaspora: An Introduction ix

Major concerns 3 identity who am i

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (3): Identity --Who am “I”?

  • National, Cultural/Racial, & Gender Identities-- are all influenced and challenged by colonization, civil wars and (multiple) migration

    • e.g. multiculturalism & double identity

    • e.g. “What is Worth Knowing”

       Look for (1) the signs of Indian culture; (2) the “Western” signs of displacement

Major concerns 3 identity who am i1

World Literatures in English

Major Concerns (3): Identity --Who am “I”?

2. Asserting one’s Identity thru’

  • Language, Literature as well as Ways of Living and Acting.

  • e.g. Caliban ““You taught me language, and my profit on 't / Is I know how to curse.”

  • e.g. “Situation”

    Note: allusions Max Mueller Bhavan -- All the institutes in India, is known as Max Mueller Bhavan – in honour of Max Müller (1823-1900), a scholar of comparative religion and co-founder of modern Indian studies.

World literatures in english possible difficulties relevance
World Literatures in English: Possible Difficulties & Relevance

  • Difficulties

    1. Language

    2. Culture and History

    3. Some “Postcolonial” Styles

  • Relevance

    Chinese Diaspora and Taiwan’s experience of multiple colonization


  • Eaglestone, Robert. Doing English : A Guide for Literature Students. London ; New York Routledge, 2002.

  • Walder, Dennis. Post-Colonial Literatures in English: History, Language, Theory. Blackwell P, 1998.

  • Cohen, Robin. Global Diaspora: An Introduction. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1997.