Literary Theory

“The Notorious Jumping Reader of Calaveras County: Twain, Blanchot, and a Dialectic of Storytelling.” The Midwest Quarterly 49.4 (2008): 374-87.

“Drowning Martin Eden’s Ideological Aesthetic.” Guowai Wenxue (Foreign Literatures, Beijing) 66 (1997): 19-27. English version.

Notes for Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary theory. (New York: Oxford, 1988).

Notes for Fredric Jameson’s The Political Unconscious: Narrative as Socially Symbolic Act. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981).

Notes for Susan Sniader Lanser’s Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1992).

Sketches for “Interpreting Literature: A List of World Theory Readings, from Antiquity to 1949.”

Photo Credit: KMZ looking at Banksy in Camden, by SJV, 2006.

Achebe and English

  • “The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use.” Chinua Achebe.

Writer and critic Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) is here commenting on the fate of his writing in a “world language” such as English, rather than in a language native to Nigeria, where he was born. Achebe explained that he wrote in English in order to present “African experience in a world-wide language” and also to create a new English with the ability to “carry the weight of my African experience.”

The statement is also a reminder to those who use English as a native language that their pride in its seeming universality must share space with respect for the expressive and creative uses inevitably coming down the road. The line above is from Achebe’s Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975) and can be found in an essay anthologized as “The African Writer and the English Language” in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Christman (Columbia UP). (Originally posted March 22, 2013)