Postcolonial Poetics: Genre and Form

Postcolonial Poetics: Genre and Form

Postcolonial Poetics: Genre and Form

Postcolonial Poetics: Genre and Form

Excerpt

This volume sets out to eschew any tendency among postcolonial critics to read literary texts as straightforward testimonies or as political statements, and to explore instead the many ways in which forms and genres are artfully deployed and reinvented in the postcolonial literary arena. Postcolonial literature by definition emerges from a context of political upheaval, and this fraught context may risk inciting the critic to look for an informative, representative portrayal of how that upheaval was experienced by colonized peoples. The danger with this, as has been identified by Nicholas Harrison (2003), is that the individual literary work is erroneously taken as exemplary of the wider community and at the same time its political impact is perhaps too rapidly assumed and overstated. In an effort to avoid such traps, the essays collected in the present volume explore the aesthetics of the postcolonial literary text, and seek either to bring littérarité to the fore or to articulate a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which form and genre can engage with the political. This turn to the aesthetic is by no means a gesture of disengagement from the political context of colonialism and its aftermath, but constitutes a renewed effort to analyse how texts offer multiple distinct ways of responding to political and historical questions. This volume probes different kinds of postcolonial literary writing, its blurring with other discourses and its manipulation of genre and form, in order to achieve a better understanding of its transformatory power.

The ‘postcolonial poetics’ of the volume’s title is by no means intended to name a unified concept or pattern. The aim of the collection is not to establish a single aesthetics for postcolonial literature as distinct from any . . .

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