Image into Identity: Constructing and Assigning Identity in a Culture of Modernity

Image into Identity: Constructing and Assigning Identity in a Culture of Modernity

Image into Identity: Constructing and Assigning Identity in a Culture of Modernity

Image into Identity: Constructing and Assigning Identity in a Culture of Modernity

Synopsis

The pervading theme of this book is the construction and allocation of identity, especially through images and imagery. The essays analyse how the dominant social discourses and imageries construct identity or assign subject positions in relation to the categories of race, nation, region, gender and language. The volume is designed to inform the study of those categories in cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, gender studies, literary studies, philosophy and history. Its coverage is geographically global, multidisciplinary, and theoretically eclectic, but also accessible. The authors include both established and rising scholars from historical, literary, media, gender and cultural studies. This innovative collection will appeal to all those who are interested in the mechanisms of constructing and evolving personal and group identities, in past and present.

Excerpt

John Osborne and Michael Wintle

Image, identity and postmodernity

The critical study of the relationship between cultural stereotype and cultural identity has been, until recently, conducted mainly in the field of International Relations, and more particularly in that specialism of Comparative Literature known as 'imagology'. Elaborated notably in Hugo Dyserinck's 'Aachen Programme' (see Dyserinck 1982 and 1988), imagology dealt largely with the historical contextualization and debunking of national and ethnic stereotyping in literature, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The present collection of essays aims to extrapolate from this literary-historical basis by analysing the ways in which the dominant social discourses and imageries construct identity, or assign subject positions, in relation to categories such as race, nation, region, gender and language. Applying such deconstructive concepts as difference, Othering, Orientalism, hybridity, liminality and translatability to these discourses and their attendant imageries, the authors of this collection destabilize the category distinctions on which they are predicated, and thereby excavate the power relations implicated in the prevailing iconographies.

This volume does not intend to explain, step by step, the received understanding of a particular established field. It is more investigative and adventurous a collection than that would allow; the coverage is geographically global, multidisciplinary, and theoretically eclectic, but its arrangement in four sections on race, nation, gender and text is designed to make it intelligible and accessible. The unifying, overarching theme is the construction and allocation of identity, especially through images and imagery.

In keeping with the 'de-mythologizing' approach, which Dyserinck championed as centrally important to the critical study of national imagery, all the chapters query, and most systematically oppose, essentializing . . .

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