Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paper-EE-205(B) Types of cultural studies:‘American Multiculturalism’

Assignment Paper   : EE-205(B)
    Topic                     : Types of cultural studies:
                                        ‘American Multiculturalism’
O      Student’s Name   : Gandhi Pooja S.
    Roll No                  : 09
·         URL                    :
    Semester                : 2
O      Batch                    : 2010-11
              Submitted to,                                                          
              Dr. Dilip Barad,                                                      
              Department of English                       
              Bhavnagar University
v Introduction:
ΓΌ What is cultural studies?

v Patrick Brantlinger-
                 Cultural studies is not “a tightly coherent, unified movement with a fixed agenda”, but a “loosely coherent group of tendencies, issues, and questions”.
There are five types of cultural studies:
1)    British cultural Materialism
2)    New Historicism
3)    American Multiculturalism
4)    Postmodernism and popular culture
5)    Postcolonial studies.
v American Multiculturalism:
                            In 1965 the Watts race riots drew worldwide attention. The Civil Act had passed in 1964, and the black lash was well under way in 1965: murders and other atrocities attention, the civil rights march from Selma o Montgomery. President Lyndon Johnson signed the voting Rights Act. The “long, hot summer” of 1966 saw violent insurrections in Newark, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, sun Francisco the very television seemed ablaze. The Black Panther party was founded. James Meredith, the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, was wondered by a white segregationist, interracial marriage was still illegal in many states.
                            Nearly a half century later, evolving identities of racial and ethnic groups have not only claimed a place in the main stream of American life, but have challenged the very nation of “race”, more and more seen by social scientific relevance. In fact, a 1972, Harvard University study by the geneticist Richard Lewontin found that most genetic differences were with within racial groups, not between them. Administrators of the 2000 census faced multiracial people die not identify with any of them.
                            Henry Louis Gates, Jr. uses the word “race” only in quotation marks, for it “pretends to be an objective term of classification”, but it is a “dangerous type ……..of ultimate, irreducible difference  between culture, linguistic groups or adherents of specific belief systems which more often than not also have fundamentally opposed  economic interests. Without biological criteria “race” is arbitury: “yet we carelessly use language in such a way as to will this sense of natural difference into our formulations. “Race” is still a critical feature of American life, full of contradictions and ambiguities; it is at once the greatest source of cultural development in America.
v Four parts of American Multiculturalism:
1)    African American Writers
2)    Latina/o Writers
3)    Americans Indian Literatures
4)    Asian American Writers

1)    African American Writers:
                     African American studies are widely pursued in American literary criticism, from the recovery of eighteenth century poets such as Phillis Wheatley to the experimental novels of Toni Morrison. In ‘Shadow and Act (1964) novelist Ralph Ellison argued that any “viable theory of Negro American culture obligates us to fashion a more adequate theory of American culture as a whole.”
                     African American writing often displays a folkloric conception humankind; “double consciousness” as W.E.B. DuBo is called, it arising from bicultural identity; irony, parody, tragedy, a bitter comedy in negotiating this ambivalence; a naturalistic focus on survival, as in language games like “living”, “sounding” and rapping. These practices symbolically characterize “the group’s attempts to humanize the world”, as Ellison puts it.  Harlem Renaissance, such as Langston Hughes, who wished to distance themselves from such “roots” and embrace the new international forms available in literary modernism?
                      Bernard Bell reviews some primary features of African American writing and compares value systems:
         Traditional White American values emanate from a providential vision of history and of Euro-Americans………………… pursuit of social justice.
                       Some of the most widely taught writes of the earlier periods include-
Harriet E. Wilson, whose “Our Nig: or sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a Two- story White House, North (1859).” Linda Brent, author of ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl’ (1960), and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, author of ‘Iola Leroy’; or ‘Shadows Uplifted’ (1892).
                        The Harlem Renaissance (1918-1937) signaled a tremendous upsurge in black culture, with an especial interest in primitivist art. The so-called New Negroes, whom Hustorn sarcastically dubbed the “Niggerati”, celebrated black culture. Naturalist author Richard Wright Furiously attacked white American society at the start of the Civil Rights movement in works such as ‘Native Son’(1938), and ‘Black Boy’ (1945). Ralph Ellison was influenced by Naturalism but even more by African American traditions such as the Trickster, jazz and also connect his reading in the European and American traditions of Conrad, Eliot and Faulkner, as he discuss at length in the preface to ‘Invisible Man’(1949).
                         Today, Toni Morrison shows irritation when she is constantly discussed as a ‘Black Wright’ instead of merely a writer. Nevertheless, Morrison’s works such as ‘The Bluest Eye’ (1970), ‘Song of Solomon’ (1977), and ‘Beloved’ (1987) give readers riveting insights into the painful lives of her black protagonists as they confront society.
2)     Latina/o Writers:
                         Latina/o means Hispanic, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Nuyori Can Chicano or maybe Huichol or Maya. “Latina/o” to indicate a broad sense of ethnicity among Spanish-speaking people in the United States. Mexican Americans are the largest and most influential group of Latina/o ethnicities in the United States.
                           Though there is of course, no one culture that can accurately be described as Latina/o, the diversity of Spanish-speaking people with different origins, nationalities, religions, skin colors, class identifications, politics, and varying names for themselves has an enormous impact upon ‘American’ culture since its beginnings. These characteristics are now rapidly entering the mainstream of everyday life, so that ‘American Literature’ and ‘American Studies’ are now referred to as ‘Literatures of the Americas’ or ‘studies of the Americas.’
                          History of the indigenous cultures of the New World is punctuated by conquests by Indian nations; European countries, especially Spain, Portugal, France, and England; then by the United States. Over time, there emerged in former Spanish possessions a mestizo literary culture in addition to the colonial and native cultures.
                          “Code-switching” is a border phenomenon studied by linguists. Speakers who code- switches move back and forth between Spanish and English, for instance, or resort to the ‘spanglish’ of border towns; linguists note why and when certain words are uttered in one language or another. They note that among code-switchers words that have to do with home or family or church are always in Spanish whereas more institutional terms especially relating to authority are in English. Limitation, or ‘between-ness’ is characteristic of postmodern experience but also has special connotation for Latina/os.
                             The Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s meant renewed Mexican American political awareness and artistic production. Rudolf Anaya’s ‘Bless Me, Ultima (1973).perhaps the best-known Latina novel, focuses on the impact of World War-II on a small community in New Mexico. Two other key contributors to Latino fiction are Oscar Zeta Acosta, author of ‘The Revolt of the cockroach people’, (1973) and Richard Rodriguez, author of the memoir Hunger of Memory(1981), and more recently a commentator on PBS’s ‘News Hour’ with ‘Jim Lehrer’.
3)    American Indian Literatures (Red-Indians):
                         A word on names: ‘Native American’ seems to be the term prepared by most academics and many tribal members, who find the term ‘Indian’ a misnomer and stereotype as in ‘Cowboys and Indians’ or ‘Indian giver’ that helped whites wrest the continent away from indigenous people. ‘Native American’, as demonstrated in the names of such organization for the study of American Indian Literatures, as Alan R. Velie notes.
                        Two types of Indian literature have evolved as fields of study. Traditional Indian literature includes tales, songs and oratory that have existed on the North American continent for centuries, composed in tribal languages and performed for tribal audiences, such as the widely studied Winnebago Trickter cycle. Today, traditional literatures are composed in English as well. Mainstream Indian literature refers to works written by Indians in English in the traditional genres of fiction, poetry, and autobiography. Traditional literature was and is oral; because the Indian tribes did not have written languages, European newcomers assumed they had no literature, but as Velie observers, this would be like assuming that the Greeks of the ‘Iliad’ and the Odyssey had no literature either. Far from the stereotype of the mute Indian, American Indians created the first American literatures.
                          Traditional Indian literature is not especially accessible for the average reader, and it is not easy to translate from Cherokee into English. Contextual frames do not translate well, nor does the oral/ per formative/ sacred function of traditional literature. Furthermore, Indians do not separate literature from everyday life as a special category to be enjoyed leisure time.
                         All members of the tribe listen to songs and chants with no distinction between high and low culture. A tribe’s myths and stories are designed to perpetuate their heritage and instruct the young, cure illnesses, ensure victory in battle, or secure fertile fields. It is a literature that is practical.
                         Yet it was not until the 1960s that the American reading public at large became aware of works by American Indian writers, especially after the publication of Kiowa writer M. Scott Momaday’s ‘House Made of Dawn (1968)’, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and his memoir, ‘The Way to Rainy Mountain’(1969), beginning a renaissance of Indian fiction and poetry. Louise Erdrich, Joy Harjo and others became major literary figures, marking little-known but historically rich sections of the country speak of their Indian past and present. Erdrich’s novels ‘Love Medicine’(1984), ‘The Beet Queen’(1986), and ‘Tracks’(1988) follow the fortunes of several North Dakota Indian families in an epic unsparing in its satiric revelations of their venality, libidinousness, and grotesquerie. From her competing narrators emerges a unified story of a community under siege by the outside world.
                          Creek Indian Joy Harjo transforms traditional Indian poetic cadences into the hypnotic poetry of she had some Horses(1983), where her lyrics tell ‘the fantastic and terrible story of our survival’ through metaphors of landscape and the body.
                          For American Indians, stories are a source of strength in the face of centuries of silencing by Euro-Americans.
4)    Asian American Writers:
                       Asian American literature is written by people of Asian descent in the United States, addressing the experience of living in a society that views them as alien. Asian immigrants were denied citizenship as late as the 1950s.
                        Edward Said has written of ‘orientalism’ or the tendency to objectify and exoticize Asians, and their work has sought to respond to such stereotyping. Asian American Writers include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Polynesian, and many other peoples of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the pacific. These cultures present a be wilding array of languages, religions, social structures, and skin colors, and so the category is even more broad and artificial than Latina/o or American Indian. Furthermore, some Asian American writers are relatively new arrivals in the United States, while others trace their American forebears for generations, as Mexican Americans do. Names can get tricky here too: people with the same record of residence and family in the United States might call themselves Chinese American, Amer-Asian, or none of the above. In Hawaii the important distinction is not so much ethnicity as being ‘local’ versus ‘haole’. (White)
                          Asian American literature can be said to have begun around the turn of the twentieth century, primarily with autobiographical ‘paper son’ stories and ‘confessions’. Paper son stories were carefully fabricated for Chinese immigrant men to make the authorities believe that their new world sponsors were really their fathers. Each tale had to provide consistent information on details of their factious village life together.
                          Confessions were elicited from Chinese women recued by missionaries from prostitution in California’s booming mining towns and migrants labor camps. A later form of this was the ‘picture-bride’ story, written by Asian woman seeking American husbands.
                        Asian American autobiography inherited these descriptive strategies, as Maxine Hong Kingston’s ‘The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976) illustrates. This book at first caused confusion in the Chinese American literary community: was it a subtle critique of its narrator or a unapologetic description of what it feels like for her tom grow up a Chinese American Woman?
                     Chinese woman make up the largest and most influential group of Asian American women, they have produced an astonishing array of literary works, far outdistancing Asian men. The first to become known in the West tended to be daughters of diplomats or scholars or these educated in Western mission schools; two Eurasian sisters, Edith and Winnifred Easton, were typical. They emigrated with their parents to be United States, and while Edith published stories of realistic Chinese people in ‘Mrs. Spring Fragrance’ (1912), Winnifred who adopted people (Japanese) pen name ‘Onoto Watanna’, was the author of ‘Japanese’ novels of a highly sentimentalized nature, full of moonlit bamboo groves, Cherry blossoms, and doll like heroine in delicate kimonos. A second family of sisters became popular just before World War-II: Adept, Anor, and Meimei Lin, whose best-known work was their reminiscene ‘Dawn over Chunking’ (1941).
                         More recently Amy Tan is perhaps best known Her ‘Joy Luck Club’ (1989) is still a popular read and was made into a successful film. Tan traces the lives of four Chinese women immigrants starting in 1949, when they form their mah-jongg club and swap stories of life in Chinese; these mothers ‘vignettes alternate with their daughters’ stories.
v Conclusion:
                           Asian American studies has been focused on writers from Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, including Hawaiian writers Carolyn Lei- lanilau, author of ‘ono one Girl’s Hula’ (1997), Lois-Ann Yamana Ka, author of ‘Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers (1997), Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’ (1883).                     


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

paper-EC-203 Deconstruction and Derrida

Assignment Paper   : EC-203
    Topic                     : Deconstruction and Derrida
O      Student’s Name   : Gandhi Pooja S.
    Roll No                  : 09
·         URL                    :
    Semester                : 2
O      Batch                    : 2010-11
              Submitted to,                                                          
              Dr. Dilip Barad,                                                      
              Department of English                       
              Bhavnagar University

v What is Deconstruction?
                   Deconstruction, as applied in the criticism of literature, designates a theory and practice of reading which questions and claims to “subvert” or “undermine”, the assumption that the system of language provides grounds that are adequate to establish the boundaries, the coherence or unity, and the determinate meaning of a literary text. Typically, a deconstructive reading sets out to show the conflicting forces within the text to dissipate the seeming definiteness of its structure and meaning into indefinite array of incompatibility and undecidable possibilities.
                    Derrida presented his basic views in the three books in 1967, since entitled,
                ‘Grammatology’, ‘writing and difference’, and ‘speech and phenomena’.
                     Derrida’s reiterated claim is that not only all western philosophies  and theories of the language, but all western use of language, hence all western culture, are ‘logo centric’, that is they are centered or grounded on a ‘logos’ or as started in a phase, he adopts from Heidegger, they rely on ‘metaphysics of presence’. They are logo centric, according to Derrida, in part because they are ‘phonocentric’ that is they grant, implicitly or explicitly, logical ‘priority’ or ‘privilege’, to speech over writing as the model for analyzing all discourse.
                     Derrida’s view is that we can never, in any instance of speech or writing, have a demonstrably fixed and decidable meaning in an utterance on text, but asserts that these are merely effects and lack a ground that would justify certainly in interpretation.
                     Derrida was the most influential philosopher in 70s and 80s of last century. His philosophy is the further extension of structuralism and is better called as ‘post- structuralism’. He carries this structuralist movement to its logical extreme and his reasoning is original and startling. We have seen in this movement that as in New Criticism, the attention was shifted from the writer to the work of literary text; consequently textual analysis becomes more important than extra textual information. Further the author disappeared and only the text remained. This is what we called the stylistic and structuralist position.
                       The meaning as it emerges from the text alone counted. In this process the importance of the reader and his understanding increased, and the Reader Response or Reception. Theory came into being. Derrida gives the same process a further and final push according to which what matters is the reading and not the writing of the text. At times one feels, through not quite justifiably, that in Derrida even the text disappears and what is left behind is an individual’s reader response to it. Now the reader rules the supreme, and the validity of his reading cannot be challenged. However, the stricter of each reading has to be coherent and convincing.
v Decentering the centre:
                        Derrida deconstructs the metaphysics of presence. That is to say that according to Derrida there is no presence or truth apart from language. He seeks to prove that the structure of the structure does not indicate a presence above its free play of signs. This presence was earlier supposed to be the centre of the structure which was paradoxically through to be within, and outside this structure, it was truth and within, it was intelligibility.
                        But Derrida contends that, ‘the centre could not be through in the form of a being presence’ and that in any given text, there is only a free play of an infinite number of sign substitutions. A word is explained by another word which is only a word not an existence. Thus a text is all words which are just words, not indicative of any presence beyond them. In the words of John Sturrock,
             “The resort to language or sign entails, we know the loss of all uniqueness and immediate. The sign is not the thing in itself.”
                          It is utteractive or repeatable. A sign which was uttered only once would be not sign. It is the types of which each utterance is token.
                         There is no a textual origin of a text. The author’s plan of a book is a text. His realization is no truth, where, the text where summary is third text. A text kindles a text and text seeks to present or explain. There is no reality other than texuality. The texuality is the free play of signifies. There is no signified that is not itself a signifier.
                           In the words of John Sturrock, Derrida seeks to undermine “a prevailing and generally unconscious ‘idealism’, which asserts that language does not create meanings but reveals them, thereby implying that meaning, pre- exists their expression.” This for Derrida is nonsense. For his there can be no meaning which is not formulated, we cannot reach outside language.
v Supplementarity:
                           The concept of Supplementarity follows from Decentrring the centre. A literary text is a work of language and language as such according to Derrida, is like time, ever in a state of Flux. Just as time has no emergence of man, and will disappear along with man.
                          Derrida quotes and approves Levi-Strauss who writes:
            “Whatever may have been the moment and the circumstances of its appearance in the scale of animal life, language could only have been in one full swoop. Things could not have set about signifying progressively but rather of biology and psychology a crossing over came about from a stage where nothing had a meaning to another where everything possessed.”
                           But language being a flux is not ever the same. It is always gaining in new elements and loosing the older ones. “The totality of the myths of a people”, Derrida quotes Levi- Strauss again,
               “Is of the order of the discourse. Provided that these people do not become physically or morally extinct, this totality is never extinct. Such a criticism would therefore be equivalent to reproaching a linguist with writing the grammar of a language without having recorded the totality of the words which have been uttered since that language came into existence and without knowing the verbal exchanges which will take place as long as the language continues to exist.”
                            Totalisation is thus useless and impossible. The language paradoxically comes into being as a quest of imaginary truth apart from language and continues to realize the lack of truth in the words that it employs. The free play of signifies, “a field of infinite substitutions in the closure of a finite ‘ensemble’ permitted by the lack.”
                              The super abundance of the signifier its supplementary character, is thus the result of a finitude, that id to say, the result of a lack which must be supplemented. The process of Supplementarity has no end. Because positive and concrete definition is impossible for any term, every term necessarily requires a supplement or supplements, something or some things which help it exist and be understand. Yet at the same time, the object which the supplement is supplementing is supplements itself. Extend this web in all directions and the relationship between bricolage play and the supplementary begins to make sense.
                            The same applied to any literature text. We look for the truth of the text which on fact is only language and create in our quest another text through our criticism to supplement the lack of the original text reading is reactivating the expressivity of the text with the help of its indicative signs. But in the words of John Sturrock-
               “the meaning that are read into it may or may not be coincide with the meanings which the author believes he or she has invested it with A reasonable view is that a large number of these meaning will coincide depending on how far separable author and reader are in time, space and culture; but that a large number of other meaning will not coincide. For language have powers of generating meanings irrespective of the wishes of those of who use it.”
                          Of course, the discussion here barely begins to scratch the surface of the implications made by Derrida, for within not even a full fourteen pages of text, has established the foundation of one of the most significant revolutions in the history of thought.
                           Of course, saying that Derrida demonstrated how the history of thought contradicted itself and in so doing imploded the foundation of western philosophy. Yet, there is scant little chance to denying the Derrida himself holds some special place in this development: if not as its father then at least as its catalyst.
                          The concept of centered structure is in fact the concept of a play based on a fundamental ground, a play constituted on the basis of fundamental immobility and a reassuring certitude, which itself is beyond the reach of play. Successively, and in a regulated fashion, the center receives different forms of names. The history of metaphysics, like the history of the West, is the history of these metaphors and metonymies. Its matrix if you will pardon me for demonstrating so little and for being so elliptical in order to come more quickly to my principal theme – is the determination of being as presence in all senses of  this word. It could be shown that all the names related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the center have always designated an invariable presence-eidos, arche, telos, energeia, ousia, alethesia, transcendentality, consciousness, God, man, and so forth.
                       Henceforth, it was necessary to begin thinking that there was no center, that the center could not be thought in the form of a present- being, that the center had no natural site, that it was not a fixed locus but a function, a sort of nonlocus in which an infinite number of sign-substitution came into play.
                       Nietzchean critique of metaphysics, the critique of the concepts of being and truth, for which were substituted the concepts of play, interpretation, and sign; the Freudian critique of self-presence, that is, the critique of consciousness, of the subject, of self-identity and of self-proximity or self-possession; and more radically, the Heideggeren destruction of metaphysics, of onto-theology, of the determination of being as presence.
                        The bricoleur, says Levi- Strauss is someone who uses ‘the means at hand’, that is, the instruments he finds at his disposition around him, those which are already there, which had not been especially conceived with an eye to the operation for which they are to be used and to which one tries by trial and error of adapt them, not hesitation to change them whenever it appear necessary or, to try several of them at once, even if their form and their origin are heterogonous and so forth.
                        If one calls bricolage the necessity of borrowing one’s concepts from the text of a heritage which is more or less coherent or ruined, it must be said that every discourse is bricoleur. The engineer, whom Levi-Strauss opposes to the bricoleur, should be the one of construct the totality of his language, syntax, and lexicon. In this sense the engineer is a myth. A subject who supposedly would be the about origin of his own discourse and supposedly would construct it ‘out of nothing’ out of whole cloth, would be the creator of the verb, the verb itself. The notion of the engineer who supposedly breaks with all forms of ‘bricolage’ is mythopetic; the odds are that the engineer is a myth produced by the bricoleur.
                       In the system of symbols constitute by all cosmologies, ‘mana’ would simply be a zero symbolic value, that is to say, a sign marking the necessity of a symbolic context ‘supplementary’ to that with which the signifies is already loaded, but which can take on any value required, provided only that this value still remains part of the available reserve and is not, as phonologies put it, a group-term.
                        Derrida added that play is always playing of absence and presence, but if it is to be thought radically, play must be conceived of before the alternative of presence and absence. Being must be conceived as presence or absence on the basis of the possibility of play and not the play of repetition and the repetition of the play, one no less perceives in his work a sort of ethic of presence, an ethic of nostalgia for origins, and ethic of  archaic and natural innocence, of a purity of presence and self-presence in speech-an ethic, nostalgia and even remorse, which he often presents in speech when he moves toward the archaic societies which are exemplary societies in his eyes.
                         In absolute chance, affirmation also surrenders itself to genetic indetermination to the ‘seminal’ adventure of the trace.
v Conclusion:
                        “Derrida emphasizes that to deconstruct is not to destroy; that his task is to ‘dismantle the metaphysical and rhetorical structures’ operative in a text ‘not in order to reject or discard them, but to reconstitute them in another way.’-that he puts into question the ‘search for the signified not annual it, but to understand it within a system to which such a reading is blind.’
-         M.H. Abram