Ann Baynes Coiro
John Milton put A Maske presented at Ludlow Castle in the middle of his authorial identity when he announced that he was an important writer. A Maske has often been linked with Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue. John Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdess was one of Milton's favourite plays and reading it can feel like a phantasmagoric encounter with Milton's Maske. The points of intersection between Coelum Britannicum and A Maske show the difference between the sceptical courtier and the romantic humanist. A Maske is the crucial nexus of Milton's two great English influences: Spenser's pastoral romance and Shakespeare's richly human drama. The most fascinating feature of the masque is the Lady. The masque's reversion to a conventional deus ex machina (Sabrina, or, if necessary, Heaven) only underscores retrospectively the boldness of Milton's most original creation in A Maske, a real woman acting nobly in the world.
In 2005 the African Union declared the diaspora ‘the sixth region of the continent’. While this was a welcome move, it was also clear that the AU’s understanding of the term ‘diaspora’ was fuzzy at best and was driven predominantly by an economic model. This chapter looks at Africa’s diverse diasporas—both internal to the continent, such as the Indians of East Africa, and externally, such as in Brazil or Liverpool—in order to argue that there is no direct correlation between blackness, diaspora and Africanness, and that whatever identification there might be between the continent and its diasporas depends essentially on the now endangered project of pan-Africanism.
This chapter draws on Derek Gregory’s idea of the ‘colonial present’ in an attempt both to politicize the postcolonial and to embed postcolonial concerns at the heart of geopolitics. It addresses the geopolitical position of Africa in the US-sponsored ‘war on terror’ by exploring the tensions that exist between biopolitical processes of security and development. It concludes with a discussion of alternative modernities which suggests that other forms of biopolitics are being practised, in Africa and elsewhere, that subvert the imperial ambitions of the colonial present even if they do not always succeed in resisting it.
De Witt Douglas Kilgore
Can we imagine a future in which the African diaspora is seen as central to the flow of events? This chapter seeks to answer that question through a history of Afrofuturism as a critical term and a critique of the concept as deployed by black and white science fiction writers. The word is presented as a heuristic that makes visible black artistic production of futures that seek escape from dystopian erasures that seem real. The idea captures stories about science, technology, and culture other than those that limit future history to Eurocentric extrapolations. Kilgore argues that the term has allowed both a reconsideration of canonical African-American literature as well as an extension of science fiction’s ability to see prophetically across racial and cultural divides.
Postcolonialism’s understanding of religion, broadly conceived, depends on a certain secular relation between critique and history. It is assumed that historicization constitutes a critical secular practice within which true-to-the-Greek and other conventional senses of the word ‘critique’ ultimately cause life to become separated from itself. The chapter suggests that the critical historicization of religion, and of life more generally, which foregrounds itself as a particular secular possibility for our present, has yet to think the question of ‘inheritance-translation’ (Derrida) in which such historicization remains necessarily implicated.
David Farrier and Patricia Tuitt
Few scholars would dispute that the modern-day refugee condition is intimately tied to the problematic of the postcolony, yet the distinctiveness of postcolonial theory among the various frames of reference within which questions of refugee status and asylum are analysed has not to date been fully appreciated. This chapter, a dialogue between a legal and a literary scholar, aims to provide a postcolonial supplement to Agamben-inspired readings of the refugee condition within the disciplines of literature and law. Key to this supplement is the claim that it is through postcolonial theory that Agamben can realize his desire to reach beyond the biopolitical.
While the writings by people of African descent living in English Canada have been published for over two hundred years, and comprise an archive of several thousand texts, the critical category “Black Canadian literature” or “African Canadian literature” has only recently secured widespread public and academic recognition. This chapter identifies two prominent and intermingling “schools” of analysis that have shaped academic discussions of the category and field—an emphasis on diasporic routes, and an emphasis on historic Canadian roots—before advancing the idea that Black Canadian literature has also been shaped powerfully by the long-standing idea that Canada is a land of genuine liberation and equality for peoples of African descent. Black Canadian literature’s heightened critical confrontation of both the dream and delusion of what we might now cautiously term “post-race” makes this emergent field of newfound global importance regarding the ongoing yet contradictory cultural politics of race today.
This article examines the history of modernism in the Caribbean region. It explains that the distinctive features of the early twentieth-century response to encroaching modernity can be represented as the spoils of the colonial adventures of the previous century and earlier. The article discusses US-based Jamaican novelist Michael Thelwell's view on the solipsism and obsolescence of modernism within black writing, and Stephen Slemon's opinion that modernism can be seen as a wholesale appropriation and refiguration of non-Western artistic practices by a society utterly committed to the preservation of its traditional prerogatives for gender, race, and class privilege.
Mary Lou Emery
The concept of the planetary appears frequently in appeals for newer models of modernism, often with different meanings and implications. The planetary registers possibilities of multiple spatial and temporal dimensions beyond the rational ordering of the global. Through alternate temporalities and evoking an ecological imagination, the planetary vision becomes especially compelling in the context of the Caribbean. It is from Caribbean writers that this concept first emerged in literary studies. In their writings, one can find dynamic transitions from global to planetary readings of modernity and modernism. One can see the beginnings of this planetary alterity in the contramodernist Relational disorderings of identity, place, and time in Banjo and Voyage in the Dark. Caribbean writers' versions of the plantation's cry displace the global by transfiguring Caribbean icons of the exchange of commodified human beings into gateways for new webs of historical and geographical relations.
This article examines the state of Chinese ecocriticism. It describes the main characters of Chinese ecocriticism and provides an account of its history of which appeared at the beginning to be concerned with ecologies rather than ecology. It describes the works of major Chinese ecocritics including Lu Shuyuan and Zeng Fanren and highlights the limitations or inadequacy of Chinese ecocriticism. This article also highlights the need to establish a practical and open Chinese ecocriticism which can help facilitate exchange and complementarity between China and the West and provide a new paradigm in the dialogue between Chinese and Western literary theory.
This article suggests that the beginnings of modernism can be traced to colonial encounters which long pre-date modernism itself. It explains that the fundamental conditions for, at least Anglo-European, modernism, might have been created in the face-to-face meetings of Anglo-Europeans and peoples of other lands. The article highlights the link between war and literary experimentation, focusing on the increasing proliferation and visibility of global war and anti-colonial insurgency.
This chapter argues that, in order to lend the topic of the relationship between colonialism and science fiction its proper scope, one must articulate the grand historical narratives of colonialism and capitalism with one another while not subordinating either one to the other. It explores this thesis by examining two problems in postcolonial theory: first, the structural differences between dependent colonialism and settler colonialism; second, the construction of a subject position for postcolonial critique that is sufficiently uncompromised by the colonialist affiliations of Western history and philosophy. The chapter argues that the difference between settler and dependent colonialism has important ramifications for the interpretation of major SF texts, and that science fiction affords excellent resources for thinking about the problem of postcolonial subject formation. It concludes with a reading of Octavia E. Butler’s novel Kindred (1979) developing these ideas.
Diasporic literature illuminates the uneasy and contradictory processes of citizenship’s formation. This chapter looks at the constitution of this dissonance in terms of the conditions of citizenship’s emergence. Noting that the relationship between citizenship and literature tends to be grounded in the interests of pedagogy in Canadian literary criticism, the author suggests that diaspora de-forms citizenship by foregrounding, and complicating, citizenship’s emergence. This chapter locates the de-forming of citizenship through the representation of the incoherence of the family as a basis for community in diasporic literature. Diasporic literature turns the discussion of the relationship between literature and citizenship away from pedagogical questions and toward those of the formation of citizenship itself.
This chapter explores digital literature (or electronic literature) in Canada and Québec. Beginning with the publication of La Machine à écrire, the world’s first book-length collection of poetry authored by a computer (in this case, a computer programmed by a young Québécois engineer and linguist named Jean Baudot), and ending with current experiments in augmented reality, this chapter traces Canadian and Québécois writers’ contributions to digital literature since 1960. Attention is paid to machine-generated writing, screen-based works, and digital translations and adaptations, as well as notable digital works by some of Canada’s most well-known poets from bpNichol to Erín Moure.
Postcolonial studies has been dominated by the example of the European colonial empires. In the wake of the ‘war on terror’, a revisionist narrative has developed which reads Islamicate imperialism as being analogous to European colonialism. The effect of this is both to legitimate western imperialism in the past and to make a case for its necessity in the present as a bulwark against Islamism. This chapter explores the challenges of reading the articulation between Islam and empire through the prism of the European colonial enterprise.
This chapter assesses the relationship between empire and liberal democracy in Britain and France during the modern era. It considers the paradox that imperialism, a profoundly anti-democratic system, was the most developed in these two countries, which at the same time led the movement to liberal democracy. It focuses on three issues in particular: empire and the age of revolution; intersections of race and class during the nineteenth century; and the relationship between decolonization and the rise of the welfare state after 1945. It argues that empire and racial difference are keys to the construction of liberal democracy in the modern era, underscoring the multiple ways in which modern democracy has been shaped by race.
This article analyzes the practice of ecocriticism in India. It explains that ecocriticism in the Indian context has a unique “advocacy function” both with regard to the reality of the world that it inhabits and “the imaginary spaces it opens up for contemplation of how the real world might be transformed.” It discusses the theories of nature in Indian philosophical schools of thought and mentions that nature is revered as prakriti or “the primordial vastness, the inexhaustible, the source of abundance.” This article also highlights the emerging trends in the socio-cultural spaces of India which call for imaginative ways of an ecocritical engagement with a contemporary ecological dharma.
The figure of the heroic bush pioneer and the settler texts from which the figure emerged have a well-established, sometimes controversial, place in Canadian literature. Ranging from the informative to the artful and from the materially particular to the psychologically nuanced, accounts of the settler experience tell of back-breaking labour and significant personal adjustment. The best of them—especially the canonical works of the Strickland sisters, Catharine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie, but also journal accounts by Mary O’Brien, Anne Langton, and Lucy Peel—provide not only a record of arduous experience but also a complex story of dislocation and adaptation.
This article examines the extinction of some animals in colonial and postcolonial Caribbean region, including the Caribbean monk seal and the Creole pig, which became victims of human predatory behavior, unchecked coastal development, and the ecological changes unleashed by colonialism and postcolonial tourism development in the Caribbean basin. This article also discusses the ecological revolution measured in terms of biodiversity losses that have led to the disappearance of thousands of flora and fauna species in the region, some dating back to the earliest decades of the colonization and conquest of the Indies.