Postcolonizing the Commonwealth: Studies in Literature and Culture

By Rowland Smith | Go to book overview

Introduction

Rowland Smith

All but one of these essays originated as papers delivered in November 1997 at the "Commonwealth in Canada” conference held at Wilfrid Laurier University in Water- loo, Ontario—one of the triennial conferences organized by the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS). The only exception, the essay on recent Afrikaans writing by Sheila Roberts, was delivered at the regular, annual conference of CACLALS, held the following spring in Ottawa as part of the Canadian Congress of the Social Sciences and the Humanities. Its obvious linkage to themes and issues raised by the other authors in this volume led to its inclusion.

It is saddening to report that one of the contributors, Jacqueline Bardolph of the University of Nice, a plenary speaker at the triennial conference, and one of the pioneers in the promotion and study of "new literatures” in France, died in 1999 while this volume was in press.

One of the original aims of the "Commonwealth in Canada” conference (the title is the traditional one for CACLALS triennials) was to use plenary sessions to discuss varying approaches to what used to be called "Commonwealth Literature” in various countries. "Commonwealth in a Postcolonial World” was one subtitle thought of to describe this intention. What did in fact emerge, however, was a series of papers, not all of which are included in this volume, that varied significantly in the ways authors conceived of the topic.

While there was no consistency of approach in the plenary sessions on how the field was studied in France / Europe, in Jamaica/the Caribbean, in South Africa, in Australia and in Canada, there emerged

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