Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams: Toward a Critical Theory of the Arts and the State in Africa

Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams: Toward a Critical Theory of the Arts and the State in Africa

Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams: Toward a Critical Theory of the Arts and the State in Africa

Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams: Toward a Critical Theory of the Arts and the State in Africa

Synopsis

Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams explores the relationship between art and political power in society, taking as its starting point the experience of writers in contemporary Africa, where they are often seen as the enemy of the postcolonial state. This study, in turn, raises the wider issues of the relationship between the state of art and the art of the state, particularly in their struggle for the control of performance space in territorial, temporal, social, and even psychic contexts. Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, calls for the alliance of art and people power, freedom and dignity against the encroachments of modern states. Art, he argues, needs to be active, engaged, insistent on being what it has always been, the embodiment of dreams for a truly human world.

Excerpt

I am grateful to the Oxford University English Faculty and the Oxford University Press for inviting me to give the 1996 Clarendon Lectures. I was received with much warmth by the faculty and students. the chairman of the faculty, Dr Vincent Gillespie, was very helpful and I would like to thank him for the dinners at St Anne's College and for the many comments he made on medieval literature, often pointing out interesting parallels between my current concerns and those of people like John Trevisa and others who used to fight for the independence of English from Latin and French--English language itself had gone through a post-colonial phase, he commented at one point. I also enjoyed talking to Dr Robert Young of Wadham College, who introduced me to the audience at the beginning of the lectures. the comments he made on neo-colonialism were the perfect background for my talks and I later discovered that two issues of the Oxford Literary Review, of which he was the editor, were devoted to colonialism and neo-colonialism. I am grateful to Jason Freeman of the Oxford University Press for his gentle prodding and for looking after me and my wife, Njeeri; and we greatly appreciate the help and thoughtfulness of Barbara Thompson, also of Oxford University Press. My publishers . . .

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