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Title: 'Aesthetics', postcolonialism and the literary text : a study in cultural differences, with particular reference to the work of Ayi Kwei Armah, Neil Bissoondath, V.S. Naipaul, Ben Okri and Amos Tutuola
Author: Bain, David Victor
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 1996
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The central concern of this study is the exploration of the possibilities of a "dialogic" interaction between postcolonial texts and Western criticism. Its preoccupations are the difficulties in producing a responsible and ethical mode of relationship between Western Critical Practice and the postcolonial text. This problem is posed in terms of "inter-cultural" hermeneutics and constitutes an ongoing agenda concerning how postcolonial texts have been and should be read. I term this agenda "the aesthetics of reception." "Dialogue" assumes a two-way exchange. Linking the texts under discussion is the fact that they are "inter-cultural" works that operate within a multiple discursive environment. Many Postcolonial literary texts, whilst drawing on diverse indigenous aesthetic traditions, also interrogate and transform Western orders of representation. They are built upon indigenous and Western aesthetics. I term the study of this complexity "the aesthetics of production." The "Aesthetic", as well as a body of theory on art, is also a discourse of the body and sensation. Part of the thesis explores the representation of the body in the writing of Neil Bissoondath and V.S. Naipaul. I examine the implications of their "bodily style" on historical representation and upon the category of the "postcolonial" itself. My short-hand for these issues is "the aesthetics of embodiment". The writers discussed comprise two Nigerians (Tutuola and Okri) , one Ghanaian (Armah) and two Trinidadians (Naipaul and Bissoondath). The thesis is, therefore, a study of diversity and cultural difference. I have chosen such disparate texts (with the important proviso that all are written in English) in order to test the "performativity" of the concept of the "postcolonial" under the stress of this diversity. The thesis is not a piece of conventional literary criticism, nor a comprehensive account of the authors in its remit. Literary texts are the occasion for the investigation of hermeneutic and theoretical issues presented by postcolonial textuality. The texts under discussion therefore share equal precedence with "secondary materials" from ethnography, literary criticism and critical theory. The overall task of the thesis lies in the challenge of reading postcolonial texts in a spirit of ethical dialogue and the exploration of the difficulties of achieving such an ambition.
Supervisor: Richards, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available