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The Institution of Family in Transition - Essay Example

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The Institution of Family in Transition

Quite simply stated, these writers portray suffering as a strengthening force, colonialism as a rationale for rebellion and the re-identification, even redefinition, of the nation and gender as an irrelevant determinant of capabilities and limitation as they proceed from a premise of gender equity.
But how do we read such texts Current literary theory depersonalizes the literature. The critical theories of Bakhtin, Foucault, Kristeva, and Derrida manipulate the parameters for reading and analyzing these works. Even though their theories are critically important and will be used to shed light on the narratives, the study aims to expand its theoretical framework beyond them. The reason is that much is lost in narrowing the possibilities for conversation to gender, sex and the body. For this reason and in an attempt to move from minimalistic readings to the radical readings required to free such texts from theory which marginalizes the meaning it attempts to elucidate, the study will turn to Baktin, Focault and Said's concept of contrapuntal reading. This is a valid approach to textual interpretation and reading since it challenges the static quality of the politics of identity. In Culture and Imperialism (1993) Said expands on ideas he had initiated in his earlier seminal work, Orientalism (1978). Said argues that rather than engaging in literary criticism that divides and separates along the lines of identities - race, class, gender, and sexuality - those identities should be recognized but not polarized. Said views these identities as special but part of overlapping and interconnected experiences. Rather than reading texts separately and isolating them according to its special history of identity, Said suggests that texts be read from a comparative, or contrapuntal, perspective.
we must be able to think through and interpret together experiences that are discrepant, each with its particular agenda and pace of development, its own internal formations, its internal coherence and system of external relationships, all of them coexisting and interacting with others (Said 32).
Said emphasizes the importance of recognizing the interdependence of various histories on each other, such as slavery, Islamic fundamentalism, and the caste system, as well as the interaction of contemporary societies with each other, such as the United States, South Africa, Egypt, Lebanon and India. Thus, in the act of reading, the reader must place the text in both its historical and current situation and place the texts in conversation with each other for the purpose of a deeper understanding of oneself and others. In other words, contrapuntal reading requires a perspective beyond one's own national borders, or landscape, into a universal perspective, where a collective memory represents the whole rather than the fragmented.
In formulating a strategy for reading postcolonial texts, the study adheres to Baktin, Focault and Said's concept of contrapuntal reading. But before such an approach can be formulated, it is necessary to ...Show more


In the novels of Toni Morrison, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Nadine Gordimer, Hanan El-Sheikh, Nawal El Saadawi and Arundhati Roy, female suffering expresses the violence of slavery, religious fundamentalism and poverty. Rather than simply revealing loss and diminishment, the areas of criticism most contemporary critics focus upon, such works expose the possibility of transformation through transgressive narratives that discover a sense of wholeness through a moral and spiritual defiance and a redefinition of beauty…
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The Institution of Family in Transition essay example
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