Vedic Visions, Sufi Signs and Platonic Parables: The Functions of Form in Late Modernity
Dr Lucy Stone McNeece.
The paradoxical encounter between postmodern societies and traditional cultures that characterizes much of modern history has rarely been conceived as an epistemological "awakening" for Europeans, although most agree that European modernism in the arts drew heavily upon African and Oriental traditions. Research on the often violent aftermath of empire has generally been addressed by social scientists rather than writers and students of literature. While writers originating from cultures outside of Western Europe and America have enjoyed increased exposure and distribution via European publishers, and although they have created a veritable postcolonial "industry" in academic institutions, especially in the Americas, their works are often studied as folkloric enhancements of beleaguered literary disciplines in which they are stripped of any philosophical or political resonance. At most, these writers serve the political rhetoric of ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘diversity’ that threatens to replace critical thinking in the Academy.
Postcolonial writers, often writing in (or rather, through) a second language, rooted in diverse local traditions, can nonetheless provide insight into ways of thinking and organizing reality that many highly industrialized nations have learned to forget or to disdain. This paper will attempt to explore some of the hidden "epistemological lessons" of postcolonial writing in relation to the politics of cultural history.
Dr Lucy Stone McNeece (United States)
Associate Professor of French Studies, Chair of the Program in Comparative Literary & Cultural Studies
University of Connecticut
Lucy S. McNeece received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and is currently Associate Professor of French Studies and Chair of the Program in Comparative Literary & Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. She teaches Comparative world literature, theater, film and postcolonial/cultural theory, and has published on authors from France, Africa, the Maghreb and the Near East.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)