Telling the Other: The Question of Value in Modern and Postcolonial Writing

Telling the Other: The Question of Value in Modern and Postcolonial Writing

Telling the Other: The Question of Value in Modern and Postcolonial Writing

Telling the Other: The Question of Value in Modern and Postcolonial Writing

Excerpt

There is no slogan or thesis that will explain the purpose of this book. For me, it started from the idea that it must be possible to destabilize the frames of value that mediate any approach I take toward a literary text. This idea arose out of my classroom experiences. Repeatedly, whether I was facing graduate students or undergraduates, I found that teaching literature made possible two ways of constructing a social relationship. The first way was to reinforce and virtually celebrate a preestablished value, a sense of the social good that was somehow embodied in the work of literature. This is not difficult to do. Students usually walk into a course on Milton or Joyce already convinced that the the work they are about to undertake is of value. Though they may be ignorant of the historical period, the biography of the author, the history of interpretation, and critical methodologies, they believe with a reasonable certainty that these things are worth knowing and, more important, that enhancing their knowledge and appreciation of an author's work increases their own personal value. This personal value, of course, is linked to the presence or absence of others. Completing a course on Milton or Joyce offers some objective evidence that one is able to read Milton or . . .

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