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National Consciousness and Literary Cosmopolitics

Postcolonial Literature in a Global Moment

Weihsin Gui

Publication Year: 2013

National Consciousness and Literary Cosmopolitics: Postcolonial Literature in a Global Moment by Weihsin Gui argues that postcolonial literature written within a framework of globalization still takes nationalism seriously rather than dismissing it as obsolete. Authors and texts often regarded as cosmopolitan, diasporic, or migrant actually challenge globalization’s tendency to treat nations as absolute and homogenous sociocultural entities. While social scientific theories of globalization after 1945 represent nationalism as antithetical to transnational economic and cultural flows, National Consciousness and Literary Cosmopolitics contends that postcolonial literature represents nationalism as a form of cosmopolitical engagement with what lies beyond the nation’s borders. Postcolonial literature never gave up on anticolonial nationalism but rather revised its meaning, extending the idea of the nation beyond an identity position into an interrogation of globalization and the neocolonial state through political consciousness and cultural critique. The literary cosmopolitics evident in the works of Kazuo Ishiguro, Derek Walcott, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Preeta Samarasan, and Twan Eng Tan distinguish between an instrumental national identity and a critical nationality that negates the subordination of nationalism by neocolonial regimes and global capitalism. Through their formal innovations, these writers represent nationalism not as a monolithic or essentialized identity or body of people but as a cosmopolitical constellation of political, social, and cultural forces.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

Series: Transoceanic Studies


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-4


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p. 5-5

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p. vii-vii

This book grew out of a dissertation written for my PhD at Brown University where I had the pleasure and privilege of being taught and mentored by Olakunle George, Timothy Bewes, and Rey Chow. Nancy Arm-strong, Leonard Tennenhouse, and Khachig T?l?lyan also offered invaluable advice and encouragement during my years at Brown, and I am especially grateful to John Marx, who read almost every word of this book?s early drafts ...

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Introduction: Constellations, Critical Nationality, and Literary Cosmopolitics

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pp. 1-14

This book is concerned with the conjunctions of national conscious-ness and literary cosmopolitics in a global moment rather than making a case for or against the nation from political, economic, or anthropological perspectives. Drawing on the aesthetic theory and negative dialectical think-ing of Frankfurt School critic Theodor Adorno, I argue that postcolonial literary form and style negates the homogenizing and exclusionary impulse ...

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1. Articulating Adorno with Postcolonial Critique: Fanon, Said, Spivak

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pp. 15-37

...nationalism is an inevitable phenomenon of global modernity, and its emergence and consolidation go hand in glove?or more appropri-ately, hand on globe?with European conquest and colonization of peoples the world over and with the struggles against colonialism and for self-deter-mination by these formerly colonized peoples from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Therefore, a thorough understanding of nationalism ...

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2. "More English than English:" Kazuo Ishiguro's Negation of National Nostalgia

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pp. 38-77

...if Kazuo Ishiguro did not exist, British literature would have had to invent him. His novels have been acclaimed as diasporic, international, or cosmo-politan, and Ishiguro?s own Japanese-British cultural hybridity has often been lauded as the basis of his transnational perspectives. However, in this chapter my analysis of The Remains of the Day, The Unconsoled, and When We Were Orphans suggests that Ishiguro adopts a diasporic perspective toward an ...

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3. "The Possibilities of the New Country We Are Making:" Transnational Fragments and National Consciousness in Derek Walcott's Writing

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pp. 78-120

...midway through The Prodigal (2004), Derek Walcott, whose speaker in this book-length poem is almost a direct expression of Walcott himself as both an aging writer and a frequent transatlantic traveler, catches sight of the Caribbean islands as he moves through the coastal region of Colombia and responds with qualified joy, calling ?the Caribbean, owned and exultant grinning and comforting,? a place that is ?not a new coast, but home? (Chap-...

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4. "Not Monological but Multilogical:" Gender, Hybridity, and National Narratives in Shirley Geok-Lin Lim's Writing

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pp. 121-161

...shirley Geok-lin Lim, like Derek Walcott, appears at first glance to be an exemplary transnational and cosmopolitan subject, both personally and professionally. Born in Malacca, Lim grew up and was educated in the former British colonies of Malaysia and Singapore, but she is better known in the United States as an Asian American writer and critic-scholar. In this chapter, however, I argue that Lim?s scholarly writing and fiction form a con-...

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5. Ethnographic Tactics and the Cosmopolitical Aesthetic in Contemporary Malaysian Fiction

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pp. 162-197

...in 2008, Salman Rushdie?s Midnight?s Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1980, was given an additional honor by the prize committee when it was selected for the Best of the Booker award. When asked about the qualities of a Booker-Prize-winning novel, one of the prize organizers candidly replied that ?the key is literary tourism?taking the reader somewhere they are not familiar with? and ?giv[ing] people information and feeling about something ...

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Conclusion: Nation, Narration, Negation

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pp. 198-200

...like Adorno?s posthumously published Aesthetic Theory, the work of post-colonial nationalism is unfinished and, although seemingly dated, stands in need of reinterpretation for the global moment as a sociopolitical forma-tion imagined through literature as aesthetic form and cultural discourse. In this conclusion I discuss literary criticism?s recent turn away from the nation and nationalism as both an intellectual topic and a conceptual framework ...

Works Cited

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pp. 201-210


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pp. 211-220

Other Works in the Series, Back Cover

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pp. 227-228

E-ISBN-13: 9780814271100
E-ISBN-10: 0814271103
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814212301
Print-ISBN-10: 0814212301

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Transoceanic Studies