Critical Literary Studies

Critical Literary Studies

Critical Literary Studies, Vol 2, No 1, Autumn and Winter 2019-2020



From Hegelian Ethical Substance to Lacanian Impossible Thing: An Ethical-Psychoanalytic Study of Sophocles’ Antigone

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Hegel’s approach to tragedy is innovative and impressive, putting such a tremendous impact on the ethical canons that has been unprecedented since Aristotle. Hegel studies both the modern and the Greek classic tragedies, concluding that the Greek tragedy, in particular, Sophocles’ Antigone is superior to all the masterpieces of the classical and modern world… the most magnificent and satisfying (Aesthetics II 1218). Resorting to his dialectics, he declares that Antigone is a brilliant demonstration of what he names the ethical substances, the universal pathos or divine wills of the Greek mythological gods incarnated in the particulars, that’s is, the human beings that consciously choose to actualize them. Hegel thus illustrates that in Antigone the characters’ wills and actions are counterpoised by the unseen and intangible ethical substances just to confirm the triad of the Dialectal method where the thesis and anti-thesis’s dispute will subside down at the reconciling synthesis. Jacques Lacan, despite the incontrovertible impacts he takes from Hegel, argues that the essence of tragedy has to be sought in the very private world the subject internalizes in itself in interaction with the object-cause of its desire. Lacan adds that the object-cause of desire, unlike Hegel’s dynamic and lively external stimuli, is a common object that the subject elevates to the level of sublimity. Lacan also proposes that the very incomprehensibility of the Thing causes the subject to encounter the blinding Real, as an essentially-internal part of the subject’s symbolic world.

Hybridity in Australia: A Postcolonial Reading of Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s Selected Poems

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The aim of this article is to study selected poems of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, the national poet of the Australian Aborigines, in the light of Homi K. Bhabha’s postcolonial theories. Using a descriptive research methodology, the present study examines the way Noonuccal’s poetry fashions resisting discourse in contemporary Australia. First of all, introductory notes on postcolonial movement, colonial history of Australia and Noonuccal are presented and then postcolonial key terms such as hybridity, third space and otherization are applied to selected poems with the purpose of highlighting the anticolonial inclinations in them. Throughout the study, third space which comes as a result of hybrid cultures is emphasized as a background for reflecting and reinforcing Aboriginal tendency in Australia. Finally, issues such as expounding a view of history from the perspective of the colonized, pointing to the disappearance of Aboriginal culture and tradition and their revival, protesting against the states’ unjust policies regarding the Aborigines, putting an end to otherization and issuing a call for a just integration of blacks and whites are all considered as valiant attempts waging the anticolonial struggles in Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poetry.

The Paradoxes of Being and Time: The Existential-Tragic Poetics of Dramatic Literature

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Theorizing about literature over the centuries has been a significant intellectual exercise of high degree that has, among other things, majorly kept the study of literature afloat. The thrust of theory, on this note, is to give perspectives to literature; that is, a conceptual framework for its critical investigation. Against this background, this study has also attempted to conceptualize a relatively novel critical framework in dramatic studies which has been referred to as ‘existential-tragedy’. The concept is woven around the philosophical nexus of Absurdism and Tragedy with the theoretical assumption drawn from the Nietzschean principle of ‘Primal Unity’ in Birth of Tragedy. It encapsulates man as a being in existence who is caught up in an enclosed journey between creation and annihilation, and who constantly demonstrates an unconscious awareness to this underlying reality through his series of engagements in life. This unconscious phenomenon is contextualized in this study as ‘death anxiety’ which silently characterizes man’s struggles with life, as actors on the stage. Ultimately, the study is being established as a move towards theorizing a new conceptual framework and/or critical context, not only in the analysis of tragic and absurd plays, but also in literary criticism at large.

The Voices towards Identity: Heteroglossia and Polyphony in Mrs. Dalloway and Things We Left Unsaid

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The present study attempts to apply Bakhtin’s theories of voice to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Zoya Pirzad’s I Turn off the Lights which is translated into English under a new title: Things We Left Unsaid. In the light of Bakhtinian reading, this paper carries out a comparative study of these two novels in order to specify the differences between the voices existing in the novels written by two women writers from two different cultures. For that purpose Bakhtin’s conceptualizations and theories on Heteroglossia and Polyphony are focused upon. Although these two novels have been analyzed by variety of frameworks related to different critics, the study on the characters identity in the light of Bakhtinian theoretical concepts seems new and the comparativeness side of the research adds to the importance of the present work. By comparing these two works, some cultural differences and similarities regarding both women writers are being revealed. It seems that the authorial intentions towards the role of the characters stem from the similar viewpoints although they have been created in different social and cultural discourses. In the novels written by two writers, the process of identity creation of each character which is the product of various existing voices that are linked to one another through the social nature of language, is examined and observed in the light of Bakhtinian theory.

The Reconstruction of Truth through Unreliable Voices in Julian Barnes’The Sense of an Ending

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The present study intends to examine the reconstruction of truth through unreliable narration in Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending (2011). In the process of seeking a fiction in which the narrator is manipulated by the authorial voice to self-refutation, it finds Barnes’ fiction to the purpose. As such, we contend that Barnes resorts to unreliable voices to make his readers suspect the truth of his narrative. In addition to the unreliability of the narrator, the reader is also aware of a cunning voice that is not present in the fiction as the voice commenting on the narrator’s words, but as a scheming intelligence distorting the narrator’s integral sequence of events. This study wants to argue that such a voice can itself be established within the novel as unreliable. To this end, a narratological analysis will be conducted in two stages. The first will focus on the level of the story, mainly on the position of the narrator, to suggest that the narrator gives us three main reasons to doubt his reliability: his age, dementia, and addiction to alcohol.  The second stage is going to concentrate on the level of the text to examine the role of the implied author. It will ultimately show that the implied author is an unreliable voice that further twists the narrator’s accounts.

Richard Rowan’s Search for Other Jouissance in James Joyce’s Exiles

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This paper traces Jacques Lacan’s theory of jouissance in James Joyce’s Exiles . According to Lacan, there are two kinds of jouissance, namely phallic and Other. The former is achievable through desire for different things in the Symbolic order while the latter is beyond the given order and can be attained through particular activities in sinthome . All major characters of the play are involved with jouissance in one way or another.  Richard Rowan as the major character in the play has got along with phallic jouissance and he is trying to move toward the Other jouissance via denial of the Symbolic order and dedication of his time to writing. After living in exile for years and experiencing the pleasures of the phallic jouissance, he is back to find a solution to his problem with the Symbolic order. The jouissance beyond the phallic one for Richard lies in writing which turns out to be his sinthome . An untextualized writing is considered to be Richard’s sinthome that opens up the path toward Other jouissance for him. 

The Symbolic Order in Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole: A Lacanian Treatment

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The present research seeks to read Steve Toltz’s novel A Fraction of the Whole in terms of the Lacanian three orders. Its central argument is to reveal the affinity between Lacanian three orders that the characters undergo. In the course of A Fraction of the Whole , Martin Dean in pursuing his desire to gain power and strength, passes through three stages of Lacanian theory; the Imaginary Order, the Symbolic Order, and the Real Order. Both Martin and Jasper in Toltz’s novel have problematic relations with their mothers in different ways. Therefore, the Imaginary Order plays a vital role in shaping the characters’ subjectivity. To examine Lacan’s concepts of subjectivity, desire and Others in the Symbolic are the aims of this study. The main objectives are explaining the role of three Lacanian orders in shaping the identity and subjectivization of the characters. It is concluded that Jasper wanted to have an object of love in the Symbolic Order, so he preferred his own uncle, Terry Dean, over his own father. His father was the dominant figure in the Symbolic Order for Jasper as Martin tried to manipulate his son’s mind through words and language. Martin was stuck in a loop of life and death through the Symbolic Order of his life and there was no way out for him and he had turned into a traumatic character. Martin’s experience of the Real Order was shown as he found out that his own mother wanted to kill him by poisoning Martin.

Trauma and Narrating World War I: A Psychoanalytical Reading of Pat Barker’s Another World

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The present paper addresses Pat Barker’s Another World in the light of Cathy Caruth’s psychoanalytical notions concerning the traumatic experiences of the subjects. This analysis attempts to trace the concepts of latency, post-traumatic stress disorders, trauma of fratricide, and domestic trauma in Barker’s novel in order to explore how trauma and history are interrelated in the narrative of history and, particularly, in what manners trauma is transmittable trans-generationally. The present paper also demonstrates how Barker’s novel Another World acts as the narrative of trauma that vocalizes the silenced history of shell-shocked soldiers of World War I to affect the domestic and national arenas of British society, the history that has been concealed due to social and individual factors. The study thus investigates the dissociative disorders, which are experienced by traumatized survivors of World War I as the aftermath of traumatic experiences of wartime. In addition, it argues how time moves for the traumatized victim and how the notion of latency in terms of Caruth’s theory is traceable in Barker’s novel. In Another World, the traumatized survivor is haunted with traumatic memory of his past history, that constantly disrupts his present and the victim is in continuous shift from present time to past time. Time thus loses its linearity in the narrative of traumatized survivor.

The Progressive Process of Kurdish Nationalist Discourse in Haji Qadir Koyi’s Poetry

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This paper seeks to demonstrate how Haji Qadir Koyi’s poetry experienced three different stages in terms of form and content, through which Haji highlighted the discourse of Kurdish national identity. In the first stage, Haji used “Gazal” (sonnet), in which he imitated the rules of Persian classic poetry and the content of several Kurdish classic poets such as Nali and Salim. The second stage is a transitional period in which he stayed away from “Gazal” and used “Qasida” (long descriptive poem including “ode”) to express his nationalistic feelings. Exploring another form of poetry named “Masnavi” (couplet) in the last stage, Haji addressed and further enhanced the discourse of Kurdish nationalism as the political ideology by which Kurdistan could liberate itself from the dominance of both Ottoman and Persian empires. The paper indicates that how the employment of literary forms in Haji’s poetry was in close parallel with the process of changes in his thought and worldview regarding the status of the Kurdish nation.

Gender and Eventfulness in Zoya Pirzad’s I Turn off the Lights: Towards a Comparative Narrative Theory

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The present paper proposes to consider eventfulness as a category for developing feminist narratology. Feminist/gender-conscious models of narrative theory have already taken into account a few narratological categories for their project including narrative closure, engaging narrator, and narrative authority. Studying the relationship between narrative eventfulness and women’s writing can be of great help for furthering the feminist narratology’s agenda. Eventfulness is a scalar feature of narrative, attributed to the degree of existence of a change of state. An event can occur in story-world, narration, or in the reader’s mind. The canonicity-breach aspect of an event, that is, the success or failure in transgressing boundaries, makes eventfulness ideologically significant. To show the applicability of gendering narrative eventfulness, Zoya Pirzad’s I Turn off the Lights is used as an illustrative example. I Turn off the Lights (Persian: Cheraq-ha ra Man Khamush Mikonam 2001; English translation: Things We Left Unsaid 2012) is a contemporary Iranian novel which has been received very well by the readers. Choosing I Turn off the Lights as an example is expected to give my appropriation of feminist narrative theory a comparative quality. By situating I Turn off the Lights in the literary context of Iran, it is argued that the reduced form of eventfulness in the novel can be read as a sign of ossified normative orders that make border crossing for the main female character (Clarisse) almost impossible.

A Review on Dynamic Assessment (DA) in Iran

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Dynamic Assessment, referred to in this paper as DA, is one of the various methods of adopting a particular evaluation procedure in order to identify possessed language skills of individual learners in addition to their learning perspective. The dynamic assessment procedure in other words accentuates individuals’ learning potential before and during a systematic curriculum. This would help examiners to conduct the most fitted criteria for future sessions.  DA, derived from Lev Vygotsky’s (1989) Socio-cultural Theory (SCT) and his concept of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), is based on the view that observing individuals’ independent performance discloses the results of their past development, while the purpose of most assessments is prediction of learners’ future performance. The present study thus reviewed the Iranian literature on DA due to the significance of the topic. To this aim, the theoretical background of DA will be first explained. What follows next is the section on the approaches to DA that are fully examined. Finally, recent related studies conducted on DA in Iran will be addressed and reviewed.

The Hell in Paradise: Revisiting British Development in George Bernard Shaw’s Widower’s House

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Nineteenth-century Britain, also known as the Victorian Britain, was the age of prosperity, advancement, the dominance of the British Empire, liberality, and enhancements in diverse social grounds. Through the light of New Historicist approach, the present study comes to critically question the idealism of the Victorian era and particularly that of the 1880s. Through exploring George Bernard Shaw’s Widower’s House it is intended to provide an illuminating understanding of the different aspects of the Victorian England. Focusing on the works of literature, New Historicist critical stadnpoint brings about less subjective views towards the past and a clearer view of all incidents. The present study seeks to demonstrate that England, and more specifically London as the centre of the nineteenth-century world, was not the suggested paradise described in newspapers but rather a city in which poverty enslaved people and suffocated them in dreadful houses built around the city without having basic facilities. Sartorious in Widowers’ Houses , as a brutal slum landlord who keeps his tenants in such a dreadful condition, represents the owners of such indecent houses which have been rented to poor classes of society. This research lastly demonstrates the controversy of the state of the city suggested by authorities and the true state suggested by the author. 

Revisiting Modernism: A Review of Modernism by Peter Childs

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Modernism is one of the most significant and informative books written in the field of literary theory and criticism. It is an easy-access, wide-ranging and efficient book that tries to explore different aspects of Modernism and its neighboring concepts. Despite its limited space, it has fully rendered the humongous burden of Modernism and demonstrating its various aspects. The book comprises an introduction and three main chapters. It starts off with a set of definitions for Romance, Realism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. Childs endeavors to approach the discussion in a comparative light, particularly the comparison between Modernism and Postmodernism in the introduction. The book is more concerned with the close analysis of movements in contexts and literary works rather than entangling with pure abstract definitions. The discussion about Modernism is accompanied by adjacent movements such as Postmodernism and Realism and marginalized points are included as well. Instead of coming up with rock-solid definitions, Childs seeks to look for traces of each movement in the other and how these terms are overlapped and intertwined.