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2 African Writers Challenge Conventions of Postcolonial Literary History

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Olabode Ibironke

I refuse to be put in a Negro file for sociologists to come and examine me. . . . 
I refuse to be put in a dossier.

Ezekiel Mphahlele, “On Negritude in Literature”

Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.

William Wordsworth, “Letter to Lady Beaumont”

[Nigerian] novels published in Britain are far more likely to use village settings than novels published in Nigeria, and this preference is holding steady. . . . In fact, however, Nigerian novels are far more likely to feature traffic jams in Lagos, a boss’s assaults on his secretary’s virtue, or how urban youth confront temptations to easy money through crime. Political novels, on the other hand, are disproportionately more likely to be published in Nigeria than in Britain.

Wendy Griswold, “Nigeria, 1950–2000”

DAVID DAMROSCH ARGUES in What Is World Literature? that the term “world literature,” coined by Goethe, was one that “crystallized both a literary perspective and a new cultural awareness, a sense of an arising global modernity” (1). It could be construed that Damrosch attempts to establish the criteria by which works enter into world literature. This essay addresses how in African postcolonial literary criticism, the vexed question of the thresholds of world literature takes off precisely from where the question of the thresholds of African literature ends: from the moment when African texts become, as Franco Moretti has argued with regard to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, “world texts.” The chapter also examines the consequences of “world” and/or “global” as pedagogical and theoretical categories for grouping and orienting African and postcolonial literatures.

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Medium 9780253353801

9 No Literal Connection: Mass Commodification, U.S. Militarism; and the Oil Industry in The BigLebowski

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

David Martin-Jones

DUDE: Walter, I don’t see any connection with Vietnam, man.

WALTER: Well, there isn’t a literal connection. Dude.

The majority of material written on the films of the Coen brothers has focused on their status as auteurs (Körte and Seesslen; Bergan; Woods; Romney). This trend has ensured that interpretations of their films as products of American national cinema (i.e., as expressions of American ideology, or national identity) are in the minority. It has also meant that, especially in the case of The Big Lebowski, political subtexts have been either missed or ignored by film studies academics and film critics. Somewhat typical of the conclusions reached by such an approach is William Preston Robertson’s assertion that the film is “nothing less than a pop cultural potpourri” (37). Similarly, Carolyn Russell labels the film—when viewed in relation to the rest of the Coen brothers’ oeuvre—“an exercise in overbranding” (166). While these writers come at the film from different viewpoints, they seem united in viewing its myriad popular influences and intertextual references as ultimately meaningless.

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Medium 9780253020871

5. The Informing Role of Fantasy

Alistair Fox Indiana University Press ePub

As suggested in the previous chapter, the resources of fictive representation that I have identified so far–visualization, symbolization, metaphor, vitality affects, and so on–are normally not used merely as ends in themselves (although they can be, as in haiku poetry) but are harnessed in the service of a “fantasy.” By “fantasy,” I mean the underlying thought, usually unconscious, prompted by the affective impulse that constitutes the motivating force behind the creation of the fiction. In popular usage, a “fantasy” has come to mean any imagined situation that is not real. In psychology, however, the nature of fantasy has been successively elaborated in psychoanalytic theory by figures such as Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and Jacques Lacan, all of whom, following Freud, saw the primary role of fantasies as that of a defense mechanism. Recent neuro-scientific discoveries, in my view, argue for a broader and more inclusive definition that needs to be established before the full range of functions of fictive representations can be understood–although this is not to deny that earlier psychoanalytic conceptualizations may have been valid with respect to particular works.

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Medium 9780253016447

2. Jocelyne Saab: A Lifetime Journey in Search of Freedom and Beauty (Lebanon)

Edited by Josef Gugler Indiana University Press ePub

Dalia Said Mostafa

Jocelyne Saab is one of Lebanon’s best-known filmmakers at home and abroad. In the context of Arab cinema, her cinematography is versatile, varied in style, and unique in outlook. Her first engagement with filmmaking was through the documentary genre, where she has produced over thirty films since 1973 (Hillauer 2005, 173). Like many Lebanese filmmakers of her generation, it was during the early years of the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990) that Saab’s films took root. The context of war, ironically, made possible her contribution as a war reporter, journalist, photographer, and filmmaker. Saab has also produced feature films (which will be the focus of this chapter), and she has won many awards and prizes in both regional and international festivals.

Saab was born in 1948 in Beirut and studied economics in Paris. In the early part of her career, she worked as a journalist and, with the breakout of the civil war, became a war reporter. In 1975 she made her first long documentary, Lebanon in the Tempest (Lubnanfil Dawwama), which won the Arab Critics’ Award. In 1981, she was the second unit director with Volker Schlöndorff’s movie on the Lebanese civil war, Circle of Deceit. She produced her debut feature film, A Suspended Life, in 1984. The film was selected for the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes International Film Festival. In 1994, she made her second feature film Once Upon a Time, Beirut, a tribute to the memory of her city; and three years later, she shot in Vietnam a documentary film, Lady from Saigon (La dame de Saigon). Saab wrote the scripts of all her films except A Suspended Life, which was written by Gerard Brach. She co-produced many of her films with her company Balcon Production. Saab has also had photography and installation exhibitions in Dubai and Singapore. In 2010, she released her latest feature film, What’s Going On? which she filmed in Beirut.1

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1 Family Secrets: The 400 Blows (1959), The Woman Next Door (1981)

Gillain, Anne Indiana University Press ePub

TRUFFAUTS FILMS ARE PARTICULARLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO PSYCHO-analytical interpretation. It would be a mistake to view this as merely accidental. Emanating from the unconscious experience of the filmmaker, they manifest, as naturally as a patient on an analyst’s couch, the grand Freudian scenarios – in particular, the fundamental Oedipal one.

One can compare this scenario to a play in three acts. The first begins with the birth of the infant who enjoys, for a certain length of time, a state of symbiotic fusion with the mother. During this stage, if it is experienced harmoniously, all of the child’s desires are gratified. For the infant, who as yet has no awareness of having a separate identity, the mother represents the only reality and meets all of his or her needs. The second act marks the intervention of the father into this Eden-like tableau, and the child’s movement out of a dyadic relationship into a triadic one. By demanding a separation of mother and child, the father imposes a limitation on the desires of the latter. At this stage, the infant displays feelings of hostility and jealousy toward the father and feelings of love for the mother, who has now assumed an autonomous reality. If they were to be pushed to the limit, the logic of these drives would require, as in the myth, that the child kill his father and marry his mother. The resolution of the Oedipus complex occurs in the third act, when the child, acknowledging the law of the father, identifies himself with it and thus becomes integrated into the world of culture that regulates social behavior. Renouncing the possibility of a limitless desire, he accepts that words replace things – the learning of language – and that woman replaces the mother – the institution of marriage, which sanctions the integration of desire within the law. The fundamental role that this scenario plays in shaping personality, together with the dynamic of desire, constitutes a psychic reality that is never brought to a definitive conclusion.

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