1,377 research outputs found

    From medieval English to postcolonial studies

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    A brief account of the academic transition that I made beginning with my first academic post in Auckland, New Zealand where I was lecturer in Medieval English during the 1970s then moved to Oxford where I completed a D Phil in reformation sermons, then to the University of Otago in Dunedin -- New Zealand again -- where I began teaching New Zealand literature and Postcolonial theory and writing, to my present work in the UK at the University of Northampton, and talking of some of the writers I have met on the way

    Encountering the other: multiculturalism in Asian Australian women's fiction

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    In 2003 Tsen Ling Khoo pointed out that a new generation of Asian-Australians would soon be hailed by a body of diasporic texts that would reflect the experience of living in a white society as a minority group (108). What this experience might consist of as white Australia’s attitudes toward race relations have shifted from negative stereotyping to reify racial divisions and propagate a masked racism, a move described as ‘acceptance through difference, inclusion by virtue of otherness’, is both varied and predictable (Ang, 2001 146). In contemporary fiction written by second and third generation migrants contestations of selfhood, origin and identity experienced by hyphenated Asian-Australians, are represented through recurring narrative tropes: incomplete belonging encourages the multiracial protagonist to other the Asian ‘other’ in an attempt to diminish social alienation and difference: but there is also exoticising of such subjects as ’other’ by white Australians; return visits to the original Asian homeland in the hope of redressing the absences and tensions constitutive of migration reinforce the lack of belonging to either place. With reference to novels by authors like Simone Lazaroo, Michelle de Kretser and Alice Pung, read as strategic interventions into identity-based politics, this paper asks how recent Asian-Australian writing maps new cultural coordinates in the national landscape and negotiates interstitial positions between the white Australian present and the Asian heritage

    Katherine Mansfield and anima mundi

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    This presentation proposes a reading of Katherine Mansfield’s work that will begin with the medieval theories of anima mundi or world soul, the concept of an animistic universe in which the earth can be revivified through a spiritus mundi. It will refer to the French theological scholars of the 12th century who were influential in promoting the Pythagoraean-Platonic doctrine of anima mundi through allegories of ‘Dame Nature’: Bernard de Sylvestris of Tours (De Universitate Mundi) and Alanus of Insulis (De Planctu Naturae and Anticlaudianus), Jean de Meun’s continuation of Guillaume de Lorris’s Le Roman de la Rose. This strand of medieval culture and cosmology - often considered as tangential to mainstream European intellectual and Christian religious belief — was popular throughout the Renaissance and has survived in various literary forms in modernist writing, often as a vigorous rebuttal of modernization from an environmental perspective. Although no direct connection with the anima mundi tradition can be traced in Mansfield’s work, her close identification with nature and the non-human is undeniable, and some familiarity with popular survivals of the tradition of nature personified appear, for example, in her interest in the Greek god, Pan. Her creation of transitive, linking relations between herself and the natural world recalls the close participation between man and the rest of creation characteristic of the medieval world view. Certainly anthropomorphic thinking and the perception of human subjectivity as rooted in non-human nature underpin the sense of wonder and the marvellous found in her representations of the created world and her emphasis on its mystery and splendour. This Arcadian, pastoral orientation also appears in her empathy with living creatures, flowers, plants and trees, while cultivated gardens and wild outdoor spaces are settings for epiphanies, sites of revelation and transformation. Yet, I will argue, Mansfield also introduced her own modernist, gendered critique of the tropes and images associated with nature worship. The talk will refer to the traditions associated with anima mundi in relation to stories like ‘Epilogue II’, ‘In the Botanical Gardens’, ‘The Escape’, ‘See-Saw’ and ‘Prelude’, read as modernist adaptations of classical/medieval topoi of the locus amoenus (pleasant place), the hortus conclusus (enclosed garden), and the sacred tree

    Championing literature throughout the Commonwealth

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    This article consists of reports from several different editors of Journals from different parts of the Commonwealth, including information on past and current publications, their hosting organisations, editorial boards, funding arrangements, academic profiles and audiences. This is all integrated into a general overview of some of the most eminent current Commonwealth journals

    Veiling and unveiling: Mansfield's modernist aesthetics

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    The wearing of a veil like other fashionable items of attire in Mansfield’s fiction ‒ parasols, hats, gloves, muffs, and hair ribbons ‒ usually serves more than mere decoration, protection or fashion. Such accessories often represent symbolically an intangible emotion or feeling, and can be read as a form of disguise. Diaphonous veils that create a filmic layer between viewer and external world, hint at a disturbance in the field of vision and the need for a different mode of seeing. Often this layering signals the necessary artifice of fiction-making and when associated with illusion, deceit and storytelling, points to Mansfield’s shaping of her art. In stories and sketches like “Die Einsame”, “The Dark Hollow”, “The Escape” and “Taking the Veil”, she reworks the veil motif as an emblem of self-impersonation, artifice and impersonality. Metaphorically lifting or lowering the veil can be associated with the aesthetic principle of “the glimpse” and the author’s ability to veil and unveil, as in Middleton Murry’s view of her art as offering “those glimpses of reality that in themselves possess a peculiar vividness”, and as stated in her own wish “to lift that mist from my people and let them be seen and then hide them again”. This paper examines veil imagery in several of Mansfield’s stories as a significant motif in her modernist aesthetics with which she registers problems of sight and vision in relation to representation

    New Zealand Women Traveller Writers : from exile to diaspora

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    The focus of this article is a group of New Zealand women traveller writers of the first half of the twentieth century who left their country of origin, and in the encounter with new worlds overseas, reconstructed themselves as deterritorialised, diasporic subjects with new understandings of home and belonging. Their work can be read as both transitional and transnational, reflecting the ambivalence of multiple cultural affiliations and reinflecting literary conventions. Such encounters and new points of reference from transiting through foreign lands inevitably catalyse new and unusual forms of diasporic writing, notable for a heightened consciousness of difference (Kalra et al 2008: 30). This article aims to identify patterns of similarity and contrast in their work, and to determine how they incorporate their varied experiences of loss and liberation into artistic reconciliations with the homeland

    Mansfield, France and childhood

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    Mansfield’s ambivalent love affair with France, which flowered after 1912, also saw her tackling her great theme of childhood as she moved away from the style of the raw, outback New Zealand stories written in 1912/13 into a more impressionistic mode. Her recreation of her early life through the figure of Kezia in the first draft of ‘The Aloe’, written in Paris (March to May 1915), has its origin in stories published in Rhythm (October 1912): ‘New Dresses’, ‘Elena’, and ‘The Little Girl’; but interestingly this semi-biographical point of departure is contextualized by stories written around the same time in which childhood is represented as a state that overlaps and is even confused with puberty, adolescence, adulthood, as in ‘Something Childish But Very Natural’, her first story written in France (Paris, December 1913), and ‘The Little Governess’ (Paris, May 1915). This paper examines these transitions in her work to argue that Mansfield explored liminal states in her characters, who combine elements of childhood, youth, and maturity, so dramatising her own psychological criss-crossing between these phases in her recreation of the family drama of ‘The Aloe

    Prologo

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    The 'Burden' of the feminine: Frank Sargeson's encounter with Katherine Mansfield

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    This essay is situated in relation to the critical commonplace that the contrasting literary modes and prose styles of Frank Sargeson and Katherine Mansfield -- of hard-edged realist writing and the miniaturist ‘subjectivist’ writing of impressionism -- laid the foundation for the two traditions in New Zealand prose. I suggest that significant similarities can be found in the writers' artistic orientation, traceable to their critique of colonial culture and society: namely, an aesthetics of fragmentation, resistance to normative gender constructions of colonial society and their use of symbolic modes of representation. Furthermore, I argue that Mansfield can be traced as an intertextual presence in Sargeson’s work, alongside an implied gendered critique of her female voice, values and attitudes, and that he developed his repertoire by adapting her techniques of impressionism and impersonation to his ambivalently gendered viewpoint in order to nuance masculine vulnerability and unrequited love. This specific influence of Mansfield upon Sargeson will be illustrated with reference to his story, ‘A Man and his Wife’ (1939), in which I suggest he surreptitiously draws on Mansfield’s last story, ‘The Canary’ (1923), ‘writing back’ in a rural colonial context and voice to her metropolitan discourse

    Queer theory, literary diaspora studies and the law

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    The article examines the well attested intersections between queer studies and the state of being in diaspora. This is a metaphorical alignment and comparability based on notions of being cast out and alienated from 'home'. But when it comes to living in the diaspora or living as gay, the analogy breaks down somewhat. The article suggests that queer theory underpins the successful politicisation of gay communities to gain greater rights such as gay marriage; whereas migrant communities which live in diaspora struggle with having their own cultural practices recognised legally, especially in England where alternative marriage customs do not have the binding force of law and British Asians, for example, often have two forms of solemnisatio
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