Critical Literary Studies

Critical Literary Studies

Critical Literary Studies, Vol 1, No 2, Spring and Summer 2019



Hybrid Marginality, Intercultural Bonding and Reconstruction of Black Motherhood in Alice Walker’s Meridian

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Over the past few decades, African American feminist writers have tried to highlight black women’s double marginalization in the United States and show how they are subalternized by both racist white society and sexist black community. The African American woman is traditionally confined to the domestic roles of a devoted wife and mother, thus required by the totalitarian patriarchal discourse to sacrifice her subjectivity for her husband and children. In her novel Meridian (1976), Alice Walker analyzes the marginality of women in the black community, noting how even a revolutionary movement like the Black Power embraced misogynist norms and demoted women to the status of the so-called second sex. Despite all obstacles, Walker’s eponymous character, initially battered down by the weight of demeaning stereotypes, finally manages to save her selfhood by transcending the restrictive gender and racial demarcations and fashion a new independent identity. This paper tries to demonstrate how Meridian uses his marginal hybridity as a black woman to form emancipatory ties with other subalternized cultures, most notably that of Native Americans, borrow their discursive practices and ultimately disentangle herself from the fixating shackles of racism and sexism.

Social Cohesion and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary Britain: Impossible Mission!

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In contemporary multicultural Britain, the concept of social cohesion has been a pressing priority for not only politicians and sociologists but also for the various British ethnic minorities. Race riots like those of 2001 in Northern Britain and the events of 7/7 in London (2005) put into question the allegiances of different British ethnic populations. They equally shed light on the real or perceived lack of social and cultural communication between the established British host population and the British ethnic and immigrant communities. Hence, social cohesion came to the fore as the new jargon of governance in contemporary Britain. This article analyzes on the concept of social cohesion and its applicability within an officially declared multicultural community like that of Great Britain. The concept will be reviewed, defined and approached from different liberal political perspectives while paying special attention to the British context. Bhikhu Parekh’s conception of the different theoretical approaches to the issue of social cohesion that are pertinent to liberal capitalist societies in general and the British context, in particular, is investigated. The aim of this study is to highlight the complexity of the normative accounts of the political scientists regarding the challenges that face multicultural Britain in coming to terms with its endeavor of creating “unity within diversity”. The 2002 White Paper and security speech of David Cameron (2011) political discourses are analyzed and evaluated to decipher how they understood national identity in relation to cultural diversity and social cohesion.

Configuration of Self-Mythology Through Trauma Studies in Paul Auster’s Invention of Solitude

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Auster’s first novel The Invention of Solitude was significant, in that it not only catalogued his own experiences, but also provided one of the earliest examples of the psychological processes involved in trauma and memory storage. It demonstrates the self’s psychological use of the Ego, in a classical sense, to negotiate between emotional response and reality, in order to create meaning around a set of events. More specifically, the death of Auster’s father operates as a catalyst for the author’s journey of self-discovery, which is richly tied to the psychoanalytical principles of Freud and Lacan, and which ultimately allows him to fully appreciate his experience of loss, by supporting the wish fulfillment related to his relationship with his father, and his need to understand the rejection he perceives suffering as a child. This highlights the difference between the inner child’s ego-centric or narcissistic perception, and the adult’s ability to rationalize, especially as it relates to memory and unfulfilled need. Keywords: Paul Auster, psychoanalysis, trauma, memory, self-myth

Subjectivity Construction through Familial Discourse Represented in Film: A Case Study of Alyosha’s Identity in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

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This paper aims to study the process of identity shaping of a teenager in a family from the perspective of Subjectivity theories. The process of identity formation has been one of the main concerns for various critical approaches in human sciences in general, and the psychoanalytical and Marxist approaches in particular. The case study of the present research is the character of Alyosha from Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film, Loveless (2017). Since there is no particular theory for the contentual analysis of Film, critics in the analysis of the films’ content, take advantage of various literary, sociological and psychoanalysis theories. Therefore, the Conceptual Framework of the present study concentrates on the critical approaches of Structural psychoanalysis and Structural Marxism; particularly definitions of the Unconscious, Repressed Desire, the Name of the Father by Lacan, the Ideology, ISAs, RSAs by Althusser, and the Žižekian concept of Lack of Language. This investigation in the process of identity formation can play a significant role in demonstrating the covert motives of the character’s suicidal act. It will illustrate the way Alyosha as a subject inherits his parents’ repressed desires and lack of language caused by ideology. The application of considering concepts indicates the central role and inevitable impact of the familial discourse at the emergence of subjectivity within the family.

The Effect of Extra-Curricular Activities on Socio-Cultural Competence of EFL Students

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This study considers the enhancement of socio-cultural competence of EFL students by means of extra-curricular activities. In this study, both control and experimental groups included 80 language learners (each group 40). The control group was given the questionnaires, pre- and post-tests along with the experimental group. Then, extracurricular activities were given to the experimental group which itself was divided into four mini groups. 10 participants were asked to prepare a self-video clip each week (4 clips as whole). Another group of 10 testees were asked to use social networks such as Facebook, What’s app, Telegram and the likes chatting with native speakers at least two hours a day involving themselves in English practice after taking pre-test and they were also given the subsequent post-test after a month. The third mini group, including 10 participants, had to write a letter each week to a native speaker e-pal (4 letters as whole). Finally, the fourth mini group including 10 participants participating at least once a week in ACD (American Corner Dushanbe) sessions which are related to social cultural events such as festivals, charity activities, etc. After that, research questionnaires were distributed among samples using SPSS software for data analysis. The author come to the conclusion that culture-related extra-curricular activities result in the enhancement of the level of language proficiency as well as contribute a lot to bringing up citizens, intellectually, culturally and multi-culturally developed professionals with deep awareness of intercultural values.

Power-Struggle, Panopticism, and Hegemony in Ellison’s Invisible Man

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Ralph Ellison’s acclaimed novel and his sole masterpiece, Invisible Man, is said to have been one of the world’s greatest African-American novels. It is replete with discussions of racial discrimination, identity crisis and studies of systematic (racial) exploitations. The depictions are coalesced with existential accounts of bodily sensations and struggles with the self and the society. But a more profound look at the context and deep structure of this novel can reveal its ideological and social critiques as well. In fact, Ellison had arguably acquired a well-versed knowledge regarding power-struggles within social systems prior to the development of this lengthy novel. Such issues, then, appear to be among the sidelights of this work. Ellison explores many political discussions of his predecessors and sometimes prophetically unearths many to-be-discovered issues and theories, years before their actual coinages by theoreticians and sociologists like Michel Foucault. With this hindsight, this article tries to study the novel’s oblique or direct references to social ideologies, hegemonies, and the theory of Panopticism at stake.

Author-Function and Modes of Writing in Narration: Reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Julian Barnes’ The Noise of Time

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The present study attempts to demonstrate how different texts with various author attitudes depict the oppressed subjects of Stalin’s time.  For this purpose, Roland Barthes’ notion of ‘Modes of Writing’ and Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘author’ are employed in reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963) and Julian Barnes’ The Noise of Time (2016). The two novels mainly address the politically subjected characters in the Stalinist regime with different standpoints of author figure. Originating the authors’ modes of writing in the mentioned texts, on one hand, and the analysis of author-function, on the other, shall satisfy the comparative tendencies in this research and show how these theoretical frameworks can help a critical understanding of the texts. The subjects described in these novels, although similar in their situations and characteristics and subjected to the same institution of power, are narrated from different author roles and provide a somewhat similar subjectivity. The author figure as a subject of ideology and the text as a created object of an author can be thoroughly analyzed within the proposed theoretical framework; therefore, the main objective of this paper is to explore the depicted subjectivities of similar subjects from different standpoints of distinguishable author figures.

A Thematic Investigation into T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men:” With Reference to Textual Approach

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The current paper provides an analytical study of Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men.” The methods that have been employed in this research are textual and reader-response analyses. The poem has been explored from both approaches in order to know the first impression of the researcher of the poem and backed by critics’ notions of the poem. The study thus intends to shed light on two main themes including religion, spirituality, meaninglessness and nothingness. It also tends to demonstrate how Eliot portrays his own view on the modern men and the modern life through this poem. Eliot believes that modern men are hollow from their insides, and they are empty yet filled with straw just like a scarecrow. The paper tackles the critics’ views on Eliot, Eliot’s view on modernity, and the role of tradition and intertextuality in Eliot’s poetry. The paper finally depicts major themes in the poem. Eliot, in his quest for finding a satisfying religion, penned “The Hollow Men” as a mirror to the conditions of the society after the World War I which caused suffering from lack of faith, religion and morality.

Language Kingdom in Shakespeare's King Lear and Edward Bond's Lear

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This paper aims to investigate the role of language as a form of political and social control, and a vehicle for power and domination in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Edward Bond’s Lear on parallel bases. Foucault’s famous statement which refers to power as present “everywhere, not because it embraces everything but because it comes from everywhere” clearly points to the always already presence of power. The issue of power has occupied a central position within his works. In fact, language can reflect truth as false and vice versa to sustain dominant group’s desires. Language can both reflect and affect our perception of the world indeed. In fact, King Lear and Lear are both stages for language game. The paper thus aims to focus on the way language plays a key role in King Lear and Lear as a vehicle for power and how language makes you powerful or how it throws you away to be a margin. The result shows that there is a dual relation between language and power, so that the voice of king is doomed to silence through the function of characters’ powerful language usage. In both plays, King is in the margin and language rules powerfully on socio-political relations. This paper has benefited from library documents and sources by use of a descriptive-analytical method.

The Afterlife of Edward FitzGerald’s Poem: A Comparative Study of FitzGerald's Rubáiyát and Housman’s A Shropshire Lad

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The present paper seeks to address and examine Edward FitzGerald’s globally-known poem afterlife, The Rubáiyát. Translation can serve as a force for literary renewal and innovation. For many years translation was regarded as a marginal area within comparative studies, now it is acknowledged that translation has played a vital role in literary history and great periods of literary innovation tend to be preceded by periods of intense translation activity. The significance of FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát lies in how the poem was read when it appeared and in the precise historical moment when it was published. The impact of FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát was such that on the one hand it served as a model for a new generation of poets struggling to make the skepticism and pessimism a proper subject for poetry, while on the other hand it established a benchmark for future translators because it set the parameters in the minds of English-language readers of what Persian poetry could do. The present chapter tries to show that FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát had a role in forming pre-modern English poetry, notably Housman’s poetry, in terms of form and content. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad and FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát have undeniable similarities.

The Interdependency of Foucauldian Concepts of Power and Knowledge in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Shakespeare’s The Tempest is an outstanding theatrical microcosm representing the unavoidably overwhelming Foucauldian power relations in all human civilizations and their intricate interdependency of such power relations with the possession of knowledge and construction of reality. The fictional world of The Tempest is thoroughly endowed with the mechanisms of an intense web of power struggles and domination fixations which typically have been, are, and will be characteristic of any human society throughout history. For the sustenance of such a complex texture of power structures and for the manipulation of the overall balance to the advantage of a specific minority, the pivotal function of a constructed reality is as substantial in the story as the real life. Prospero, the central character, successfully manages to subdue all other dangerous, power-thirsty rivals by making use of his superior knowledge enabling him to shape the subjectivities/beliefs of other characters by different means including language and masquerades in an induced world of realities on the island. Shakespeare’s text can well be drawn on to reveal the stealthy workings of different social, cultural and especially moral institutions in recruiting subjects to their malignant power/knowledge network and duping the individuals with the desired notions produced constantly by the institutional apparatuses leading to the construction of an exploitive ‘truth.’

Educational System as a Discourse of Power: Reading Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye in Terms of Adorno’s Theory of ‘Halbbildung’

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Discourse has been one of the most challenging interdisciplinary terms during the past few decades which connects variety of fields of study such as politics, philosophy, sociology, linguistics, and literature. One of the approaches which is born out of mutual interaction between Linguistics and socio-political debates is critical discourse analysis (CDA), which studies the relation between language and power. Among the influential figures of this approach, one may refer to Antonio Gramci, Paulo Freire, and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. Theodore Adorno as one of the key members of this school challenges the basic assumptions of educational system in his writings particularly his essay “Theory of Halbbildung,” by which he meant “Half-education.” In his viewpoint, education is deemed as very forceful, one of the manifestations of power relation, which speaks in its own language to its audience or learners. The present paper is an attempt to analyze the failure of educational system to foster autonomous individuals in Salinger's Catcher in the Rye in the light of Adorno's theory of half-education.