Critical Literary Studies

Critical Literary Studies

Critical Literary Studies, Vol 2, No 1, Spring and Summer 2020

مقالات

۱.

The Transgenerational Trauma of Displacement: Rewriting Diasporic Subjectivities in the Shadow of the Phantom of the (M)otherland

نویسنده:
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the argument of the present research is based on the premise that assiduous attention to the transgenerational traumatic aspect of diasporic displacements not only gives voice to the often covert narratives of loss and pain encrypted in the diasporic literature, but it also sheds light on the process of the negotiation of subjectivities by both the first and the second-generation diasporic subjects. As a critical inquiry into the literary representations of diasporic subjectivities via a predominantly psychoanalytically-inspired approach, the present analysis of diasporic short fiction thus sits restlessly on the nexus of both diaspora studies and the psychoanalytic studies of trauma. Through a close textual analysis of two samples of short fiction authored by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Tania James, the study seeks to present its intergenerational conception of diasporic subjectivities in the light of the theory of transgenerational haunting. It explores the ways in which different generations of diasporic subjects are haunted by the phantom of a (M)otherland whose uncanny shadow is woven into the confounding reality of diasporic life. This phantom constantly exposes the diasporic self to a psychic space of empathy whose emergence is facilitated by the presence of an external other who through cathartic interactions with the diasporic self endows her/him with a fair chance to (re-)negotiate her/his subjectivities. It is also to be placed on the threshold of a belated mourning for a hitherto-repressed oft-internalized sense of otherness, if not an oft-occluded shame of unbelongingness. 
۲.

Sea Voyages in Medieval Romances: Symbolic Trails through Existential Experiences and Female Suffering on the Water

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In a considerable number of medieval narratives we encounter the shared theme of sea voyage, either undertaken for the purpose of marriage, or imposed on the suffering female protagonist who is persecuted by evil-minded people. Considering that most medieval audiences were not that much familiar with travel across big bodies of water, the literary motif emerges as highly significant because the voyage itself, mostly without any crew of sailors, carried out almost automatically, with the protagonist all by her/himself, transforms the traveler and has also a major impact on the countries or people where the ship arrives. The voyage emerges as an enterprise brought upon by God, who helps the individual to survive this most dangerous experience, which then brings about significant change in the people who live in the new country. At the same time, this theme also represents a kind of horizontal catabasis and regularly has a deep transformative impact on everyone involved.
۳.

The "Excess of Negativity": Death Drive in Suzan-Lori Parks's Father Comes Home from the Wars

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The work of Slavoj Žižek includes the highly arguable concepts towards the re-articulation of the Lacanian notion of the death drive.This paper presents an expository trend joining the fragmentary depictions of the death drive inSuzan-Lori Parks's play, Father Comes Home from the Wars. The present analysis begins with tracing the most intuitive aspects of Žižek’s re-articulations of the concept in connection to the Freudian-Lacanian Psychoanalytical concepts of the death drive. Opposing the notions of the death drive as biological instinct, Žižek instead highlights the Lacanian notions of the excess of negativity, "undead" eternal life, and symbolic mortification. In Father Comes Home from the Wars, the death drive stimulates Hero as a social antagonist and allows him to defy his constraints as a slave and develop an entirely different man with a new form of subjectivity. His struggle towards freedom makes him the subject of conflict and disintegration. Hero's attempts are in vain and ineffective as freedom tends to figure forth to the Real and becomes the target of oppression. The paper ends with focusing on how the notion of self-relating negativity consolidates the foregoing Lacanian concepts and how the illusion of freedom opens up the experience of loss or trauma and undermines Hero's desire for emancipation.
۴.

The Freedom of Commitment: The Role of the Writer in Sartre’s What is Literature?

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The commitment of literature stirred up controversy in the face of European cataclysm of the post-war period. The significance of literature in political spheres fell under suspicion. It came to be looked at as a passive, impractical activity that could not express the horrors of W WII. Jean-Paul Sartre, the leading literary figure of existentialism in France, faced with such criticisms, decided to investigate the role of the writer and the reader, and endeavored to open a gateway for writers to participate in their societies actively. This study is concerned with the first three chapters of the monograph including “What is Writing?,” “Why Does One Write?,” and “For Whom Does One Write?” The present analysis does not address Sartre’s Existential philosophy per se; however, it briefly examines the roots of Sartre’s conception of literature in continental philosophy and the critical responses to his work from the perspectives of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Theodor W. Adorno. This paper endeavors to give a clear insight into Sartre’s idea of commitment and the freedom of the writer, and what he introduced as “human right literature” as an antithesis to both Marxism and Capitalism.
۵.

The Unrelinquished Metaphysical Desire in Pinter’s The Lover and Stoppard’s The Real Thing

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The purpose of the present study is to employ René Girard’s concept of “metaphysical desire” in a comparative study of Pinter’s The Lover and Stoppard’s The Real Thing. René Girard has investigated the idea of imitative desire in a rather distinguished way. He contends that the nature of desires is neither innate nor autonomous, but rather we borrow them from the others. He argues for the idea that human beings are always looking for stronger mediators to gratify their desires. The imitative desire itself, once satisfied, is not gratified and the search for stronger impulses or mediators always continues in a never-ending process that Gerard refers to as “metaphysical desire”. The present research intends to look for metaphysical desire in the lives of the characters, wherewith they can examine the role of the mediator in the characters’ lives as well. Since metaphysical desire, as Gerard argues, leads individuals either to perfection or destruction and alienation, the characters are shown to imitate their metaphysical desire leading them to experience destructive consequences and family corruption. Consequently, the characters who have pursued their metaphysical desire on the verge of a negative sideline all fail to enjoy a life they long for, and are subject to alienation and misfortunes within which they constantly experience great pains. The characters also turn into obstacle-addicts who, metamorphosed into masochists and losing their lives for good, find no chances to change life as they long for.
۶.

A Study of Different Aspects of Hutcheonian Parody in Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs

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The purpose of the present article is to investigate Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs (1997) within a theoretical context set by Linda Hutcheon’s definition of parody. In Hutcheon’s view, parody is a repetition with critical distance. Hucheonian parody allows the adapted work to challenge and ironically transform the form and the content of the hypotext in order not to ridicule but to create. The central questions of this research are: How does Jack Maggs employ Hutcheonian parody within the broader postmodern narrative discourse to view its source text with a critical distance? And, how does Hutcheonian parody engage Jack Maggs in contemporary social debates? In order to answer these questions, the research applies various aspects of Hutcheonian parody to Carey’s novel. The present paper demonstrates that Carey’s Jack Maggs recontextualizes Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1860) in a new Australian setting. It also argues that the novel, which has mostly received positive responses and reactions from both literary critics and general readers, illustrates Carey’s parodic attempt to revisit one of the most renowned novels of the Victorian era. The present research contends that Jack Maggs is a critique of nineteenth-century realism and, more broadly speaking, of master narratives.
۷.

An Investigation of Interpersonal Metadiscourse Markers as Persuasive Strategies in Donald Trump’s 2016 Campaign Speeches

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Interpersonal metadiscourse is considered as a significant mean of smoothing communication between the speaker/writer and listener/reader. The present study intends to explore the concept and type of interpersonal metadiscourse markers employed by Donald Trump’s campaign speeches as a persuasive strategy. Descriptive qualitative research design is used in the present study. Dafouz’s (2008) classification of interpersonal metadiscourse markers was employed to analyze the gathered data. The results revealed that Trump made use of all categories of interpersonal metadiscourse markers namely hedges, certainty markers, attributors, attitude markers, and commentaries, in his campaign speeches. The frequency of attitude markers and commentaries was more than other types of metadiscourse markers in Trump’s campaign speech, which demonstrates that he attempted to persuade the public to vote for him through making an emotional link.
۸.

Representation of Trauma in Post-9/11 Fiction: Revisiting Reminiscences in Mohsen Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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The current paper aims at presenting a close reading of the protagonist’s reminiscences in Mohsen Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist in terms of an eclectic approach toward representation of trauma. Freud and Breuer’s theory of psychological trauma, Judith Herman’s concept of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Jeffery Alexander’s notion of cultural trauma are employed as the conceptual framework of this analysis. Psychological trauma refers to the unbearable, untreatable, and unspeakable psychological wounds remaining on the subject’s unconsciousness. PTSD concentrates on troublesomeness in regular physical activities including rapid distraction, insomnia, and shifting in and out through past memories, triggered by trauma. Cultural trauma traces the changes at the level of collective identity of a group due to a formerly experienced horrendous event. The Adventures of Changez, the novel’s narrator, dating back to around the 9/11 attack are represented in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The paper conducted a survey through theories of trauma depicting memory as a venue where the subject’s psychical status could be fully scrutinized. The results of the study demonstrated that a traumatic event such as that of the 9/11 has a long-term devastating impact on Changez’s subjectivity as well as a collective negative consequence for Pakistan’s new generation of intellectual immigrants.
۹.

A Study of Comparative Effects of Humorous versus Non-Humorous Text Types on Vocabulary Learning of Iranian EFL Learners at Two Proficiency Levels

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The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of utilizing humorous versus non-humorous texts on receptive and productive vocabulary learning. This research is also conducted to seek whether language proficiency of the participants would be a factor influencing the effectiveness of two types of treatments used in the study. The materials employed in the present study include 17 humorous and 17 non-humorous texts which contain the target words. 87 students at two proficiency levels participated in the study and almost half of them were exposed to the target words through humorous texts and the second half learned the words through non-humorous texts. The target words with their English definitions were presented to the participants. Each text was accompanied by some comprehension questions, either in the multiple choice format, fill in the blanks or open ended questions. Following the treatment, an unannounced immediate post-test was administered to measure the effectiveness of two text types on vocabulary learning. After a three-week interval, an unannounced delayed post-test was administered to check the efficacy of text types on long-term vocabulary learning. The findings suggest significantly better vocabulary learning both in immediate and delayed post-tests for the less proficient participants learning target words through humorous texts. However, in the case of the more proficient learners, it turns out that humor is considerable in long-term learning of the target words. Based on the results, it is recommended that teachers and materials developers include more elements of humor in the language classes and course books.
۱۰.

The Performative Diasporic Subjectivity in Randa Abdel-Fattah's Ten Things I Hate about Me

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The present paper is an attempt to study Randa Abdel-Fattah’s novel, Ten Things I Hate about Me (2006) from Judith Butler's performative perspective. The main question of the research is whether the diasporic subjectivity of the Muslim protagonist of the novel is innate, static, and finalized or rather performatively constructed. It is argued that Jamilah, as a diasporic Muslim woman, is not a being with an essentialized identity; rather she is a becoming whose identity is constructed in diaspora. It is contended that Jamilah is a discursive subject, hailed by the dominant Lebanese, Australian, and Islamic discourses. Butler's attestation of the infelicity of some performances leaves space for the resignification and reappropriation of the discourses, which attempt to interpellate the subject. The study seeks to demonstrate that Jamilah as the diasporic doer, who is constituted as a result of the performative linguistic, corporal, culinary, and artistic deeds, is not determined by any of the discourses she is immersed in, and thus becomes a hybridized liminal subject who negotiates the discourses of home and host cultures through evading the dualistic logic.
۱۱.

Historicity in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner: Encountering History in Contemporary Afghanistan

نویسنده:
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This research paper is an investigation of Khaled Hosseini’s seminal fiction The Kite Runner from the perspective of New Historicist approach of reading a literary work. The concepts of history and discourse, recurrently employed by Foucault, Montrose, and Greenblatt, provide the theoretical background of the present research. The plot of the novel is devoted to presenting a vivid picture of the socio-cultural conditions of Afghanistan at the period of war and crisis. During the time, many wars and conflicts were imposed upon Afghanistan for the interests of foreign powers. Russia invaded Afghanistan, and it ended up in Taliban war, hunger, uncertainty in the subjects’ lives, and refugees question. Russian army had destroyed the village, school, and natural resources of Afghanistan while America indirectly dominated there to support the Taliban against Russia in the cold war period. The Kite Runner including historical facts about Afghanistan’s multi-layered conditions, let the readers face the true nature of war, terrorism, and Taliban in the country. Exploring the cultural crisis and ethnic conflict represented in the novel is conducted in a close association with the New Historicist’s concept of “textuality of history and historicity of text”.
۱۲.

Literary Historiography in Contemporary Persian Novel: A Study of S. Rahimian’s Dr. Noon Loves His Wife More Than Mussadiq

نویسنده:
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The present research seeks to investigate Shahram Rahimian’s Dr. Noon Loves His Wife More Than Mussadiq [1] based on the literary historiographical theory of Hayden White. The central argument of this analysis is to demonstrate how Rahimian represents the history of Iran’s 1953 coup in his novel through mentioning an Iranian historical figure, Dr. Mussadiq, and his relationship with other members of the political party. The history of Iran’s coup and especially that of Dr. Mussadiq have been an interesting subject for most of the historians and writers. Rahimian in his novel impressively addresses the historical facts of the period and endeavors to focus on the realities and at the same time to create a new version of the events by fictionalizing the way he presents his characters. He attempts to convey to the readers that it is possible to have different versions of the apparent historical facts. This novel provides corresponding peculiarities with the postmodern approach of historiography that is presented by Hayden White particularly in his remarkable work, Metahistory (1973). White contends that there could be different versions of historical facts and it is the task of the historian and the writer of historical fiction to interpret the realities and to make his/her own version of the past. Employing White’s significant concept of emplotment, the study explores the way Rahimian depicts the Iranian socio-political and cultural scene of the early 1950s in his novel from a historical perspective. <br clear="all" /> [1]     All translations from Persian to English have been made by the present author.