Alterity and Narrative
Stories and the Negotiation of Western Identities
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: State University of New York Press
Alterity and Narrative
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This book would not have been possible without the support of many, many people. Duquesne University provided a Presidential Scholarship grant and generous support from the College of Liberal Arts. Everyone at SUNY Press was outstanding, especially Series Editor Ronald L. Jackson II. Colleagues in the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies sacrificed a great deal to see me through this project; I owe a huge debt to Ron ...
Introduction: IDENTITY, ALTERITY, AND NARRATIVE
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Identity negotiation in the twenty-first century is marked by both globalization and provinciality. Although “identity” should not be confused with identity politics, we live in a moment where “identity” and “culture” are synonymous terms. The very concept of culture has changed within this conflation (Benhabib, 2002, 2004). Culture—perhaps the most significant and ...
1. Soteria, the Mother as Other: MEDEA IN ANCIENT GREECE (AND BEYOND)
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In the introduction, it was noted that “Ancient Greece” is typically a distinct unit within the construction of Western histories. All these biases—linear history, Ancient Greece, and Western Civilization—are integral to the formation of Western identities. Ancient Greece is exemplary of the arguments I laid out in the introduction: it is a narrative (spawning more evaluative accounts) of identity. It is “part of culture,” and because Ancient ...
2. A Man Cannot Be a Prophet in His Own Country: SAINT PAUL AND UNIVERSALISM
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The Greek ideal of salvation (so
3. The Curses of Medieval Man: REVERBERATIONS FROM THE TOWER OF BABEL
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As noted in the previous chapter, the early Christian period in the Western world was one that saw a profound change in worldview. The orientation toward monotheism and the Christian story in general was one that permanently refocused Western alterity, incorporating a rhetoric of mission. At no time is that orientation toward Christianity more stringent than in the Middle Ages, or medieval period. Historians “officially” mark this time ...
4. Fierce Warriors: THE OTHER AS COMRADE IN OTHELLO AND WORLD WAR II
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An excursion into the identity negotiations of any culture, as they have moved through time, often highlights the performances of the best storytellers and narrators. For many Western cultures, the bias toward literacy over orality is a distinguishing element. Yet all cultural groups, in the course of their identity negotiation, do actively engage the performances of even their greatest storytellers—critiquing and questioning, embellishing and ...
5. The Enlightenment Noble Savage: DIDEROT’S TAHITI AND OTHER IMAGINARY LOCALES
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In the introduction, I emphasized that one of the terms of cultural dialogue—at least as Benhabib (2002, 2004) defines the dialogue of cultures—must be the recognition that alterity is a universal enterprise. All cultures offer accounts of their differentiating actions, claiming the boundaries between “Self” and “Other.” What is most interesting about these differentiating accounts is that while their subject matter appears to be “the ...
6. Modernity, Industry, and the Fatal Flaw: THE RISE OF ENTROPOLOGY IN A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT
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As this book had made clear thus far, alterity is never a singular issue, no matter what the time period. Just as Christianity passed through several metamorphoses of “Otherness” in the period of the Roman Empire, so, too, can we find various intercultural dynamics between the Western nations that emerged fully out of the Enlightenment period discussed in the previous chapter. Technically, the modern period begins with the Enlightenment ...
7. The Rhetoric of Possibility: TRICKSTER, THE POSTMODERN HERO
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In the introduction to this book, I stressed that cultures are not discrete wholes. They are complex, hybrid entities that are constructed through discourse, including narrative. While I believe these processes of cultural identity negotiation have been present for as long as human beings have populated the earth, it is possible that my bias toward hybridity is a particular result of the time period the West calls postmodernity. Indeed, this book ...
Conclusion: INTERCULTURAL HOPE:ALTERITY POST-9/11
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In the decades to come, it is possible that a new era in “Western” civilization will need to be named and described. It has been suggested that September 11, 2001, was a break-point between the postmodern era and a new emerging historical moment. It is not possible to characterize alterity in the midst of this moment, but this concluding chapter speculates on the role of narratives in the creation of Western identities beyond what has been ...
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Page Count: 238
Publication Year: 2007