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:
ü 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).                     


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