Degree Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Advisor(s)

Anuradha Needham

Keywords

Literature, First World, Third World, Women, Crick Crack, Monkey, Nervous conditions, Education, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Merle Hodge, Trinidad, Tanzania, Girls

Abstract

In this essay, I examine two novels by Third World women writers, with a view to exploring how to read and teach Third World texts in a First World context. Teaching these (and other Third World texts), I contend, must entail negotiating their status as "other" to First-World, Western texts and must include recognizing this status as imposed by the First World readership and as a heuristic to develop an understanding and a pedagogy that is able critically to examine the First World or West's naturalizations of its own pedagogical and knowledge-based claims. To do this, I focus specifically on the subject of education; in this regard, colonial education, as it is explored in these two novels. For the protagonists of these novels, colonial education is the means through which they "escape" poverty and gain social mobility. At the same time, it is a deeply alienating, separating force between worlds. In gaining a colonial education, they are drawn into the culture of the pedagogy and curriculum, but both gain a critical distance through education that allows them to develop skeptical/realistic perspectives on colonialism. In a First World educational system, this critical distance is difficult to find when Western texts occupy the center of the canon and perspectives outside the culture of this central literature are discouraged. Teaching Third World literature in a First World setting not only brings into question this definition of the Third World at the global "margin" but also brings the process of personal identity development into the classroom in the context of "postcolonialism."

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