Methodology of Literature 2015
The Queer Theory or Lesbian/Gay Criticism
The Queer Theory is a cultural theory developed in the 1990s. which is related to gay(homosexual) sexuality and gay readership. Lesbian/Gay criticism is meant to serve the interests of sex and sexuality of a marginalized community. It has social and political considerations also. Queer Theory helps the members of the community, who are involved in homosexual (gay/lesbian) sexuality and remove their fear and prejudices and bring them back to the mainstream of society. There are two branches of lesbian theory. They are ‘Lesbian Feminism and the ‘Queer Theory. Lesbian Feminism is originated from Feminism in 1980s. Feminism cannot put up with Lesbian feminism because of the lesbian difference, such as cultural, racial and sexual differences. The Queer Theory supports experimental methods of sexuality such as sadism, masochism, and sadomasochism. They are different from heterosexuality and homosexuality. The idea is heterosexuality is natural and homosexuality is rejected as ‘the Other’. Lesbian/gay criticism supports Virginia Woolf, Victoria Sackvelle West, Dorothy Richardson and other writers who write about lesbian/gay instances in mainstream literature. It brings to light homosexual instances of mainstream literature, as in war poetry and the portrayal of soldiers bathing in public and the sight of naked dead bodies are often homo-erotic.
The term ‘subaltern’ means ‘from below’. Subaltern studies means ‘history from below- the downtrodden, the tribals in the Indian context. These are the post colonial studies made by Homi Bhabha and Edward Said. In his key essay titled ‘Signs taken for Wonders’ Homi Bhabha speaks about the ‘English Book’, which is the Bible. The Bible functioned as a sign of colonial power. The school of Subaltern studies was founded by Ranajit Guha, a Marxist intellectual from
who was influenced by the Chinese Cultural Revolution. These post-colonial
writers and historians have produced provocative research on the history of
which include low caste and tribal peasant insurgency, middle class (bourseosie
leadership and their ideologies of Indian nationalism, prison life, politics of
liquor and interpretations of ‘bondage’.
Dalit Literature in
– A Critical Study. India
The word ‘Dalit’ means ‘oppressed’ or ‘broken’. ‘Dalit’ is a Marathi word means ‘depressed classes’. In the 1970s ‘Dalit Panthers expanded to Scheduled tribes, poor peasants, women and all the economically, politically and religiously oppressed and exploited people. Dalit is not a caste but a symbol of change and revolution.
The basic aim of Dalit literature is the liberation of Dalits. Dalit’s struggle against casteist tradition started in the 11th century when in Kannada state, Chennai, a cobbler and a Vachana poet challenged the upper classes for eating the Sacred cow. The Dalit youths started a movement called Little Magazine and drew inspiration from the blacks in
Poems, short stories and autobiographies were written in the Dalit Literature
and was dignified. The important writers were Maheswata Devi, Namdeo Deshal,
Daya Pwar and others. Dalit literature questioned the mainstream literary
theories and the
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upper caste ideologies. Dalit literature is experience based. This “anubhava” is more convincing and better than the “anumana” of the upper caste mainstream literature. The contribution of Dalit literature was remarkable. Dalit writers often used the terms like Shame, anger, sorrow and hope in their literature. Dalit literature grew in
to the legacy of Mahatma Phule and B. Ambedkar. It raised the literacy level of the Dalit and
caused great change in Indian society. It encouraged self confidence and pride
in Dalit people and helped them to write their biographies, explaining their
suffering and prepared them to demand their rights and helped their
mobilization. It stirred up thinking in Dalit intellectural. In Tamil Nadu the
literary movement developed in the 1990s.
Post Colonial Criticism
Post Colonial criticism developed in the 1990s. The great writers of this criticism are Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak and Bill Ashcroft. Post colonial theory is a method of interpreting, reading and critically evaluating the cultural practices of colonialism. Post colonial critics question the authority of Western literature because it is often silent about colonialism and imperialism. The Western literature supports only White, Eurocentric ideas. There are two stages of Post colonial criticism. In the first stage, post colonialism criticizes the Western portrayal of colonial countries for its prejudices and limitations. In the second stage, the post colonial writers speak of themselves and their society.
Much before the pot colonial criticism of Edward Said and Homibhabha appeared, the ideas of resistance, cultural nationalism and nativism arose in the context of anti-colonial struggle in Asia, Africa and
But the anti-colonial struggle in India
was much different from other colonized nations in Asia, Africa, South America and other places.Gandhi’s method of
struggle was “Satyagraha” which was based on the principle of non-violence.
Gandhi knew that the spirit of India
lies in the villages and therefore he took an anti-industrial stand. Gandhiji
wanted to save the interests of the peasant class and agricultural workers.
France Fanon calls this form of struggle as “cultural nationalism”. Gandhiji’s
major contribution to post-colonial struggle is the moral superiority of both
the individual and the culture against the colonial ruler – the British
government. Gandhiji believed in the assimilation of all cultures and
asserted Indian secularism.
Fratz Omar Fanon an Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and writer whose books are influential in the fields of Post colonial studies, critical theory and Marxism. His works titled “The Wretched of the Earth” and “Black Skins, White Masks” deeply influenced the ani-colonial struggle. Fanon was deeply interested in the psychological effects of colonialism both on the colonizer and the colonized. He argued that the colonization destroyed the soul of the depressed and the suffering natives because the white people treated these natives as mere animalized things. So the natives think of themselves as very dirty, pagan and primitive and evil human beings and began to hate their own culture and religion. This is what happened even in
Thus the natives are forced to accept western religion, values, culture and
language and puts on white masks. He cannot become fully ‘white’ and at the
same time he cannot expel the whites from his country.
Cultural materialism is politicized form of historiography. It treats all literary texts part of historical material. The term cultural materialism was given importance by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield. They define cultural materialism as a critical method. Cultural materialism takes its principles from Structuralism, Post Structuralism, Marxist and Feminist ideas and other modern methods of critical study.
The difference between Marxist criticism and Cultural materialism is that cultural materialism considers the present as well as the past in the study of literary text, but Marxism considers only the past. Cultural materialism stands for political optimism whereas New Historicism represents political pessimism. Cultural materialism is the British while New Historicism is American.
New Historicism is American counterpart of Cultural materialism which is British. New Historicism was coined by Steven Greenblatt. New Historicism deals with the historical, social, economic contexts of a literary text. New historicism differs from old historicism. Old historicism treated the literary text as the object of value and the historical background was only of a subsidiary interest. There was no equality between the literary text and the historical background. On the other hand New historicism gives equal importance to both the literary text and the historical background. New historicism accepts Derrida’s view that there is nothing outside the text. New Historicism stands for political pessimism and says that history is not background to texts; but it is the foreground.
Marxism is a school of thought that has political, economic, social, literary and other bearings. It stands for a classless society and common ownership of property. It is based on materialist philosophy.
The Marxist view of society has two bases, an economic base and a cultural superstructure. The first is the means of production, distribution and exchange. The second is the world of philosophy, art, religion, law and others. But the second base is formed and determined through the first base. Marx and Engels did not develop any theory of literature. Marxist criticism is that a writer’s class is reflected in his work. It is not inspiration, or genius, that creates great art, but one’s social context. This is mirrored from the content and style of one’s work.
Post modernism Postmodernism is a theory and practice, which has become popular in literature and the arts since 1980s. Postmodernism accepts most of the features of modernism such as fragmented forms of writing, random use of non-literary things and use of parody and so on. Postmodernism developed after the Second World War. There are certain differences between modernism and post modernism. The modernist is sad and desperate at the state of affairs and has a tone of lament and pessimism. On the other hand, the post modernist is glad about it, as the fragmented state of things means joy and liberation. Post modernism does not differentiate between ‘high class’ and ‘low class’art. But modernists did this difference.
The present sense of postmodernism came to be received from Jean-Francois Lyotard’s “The postmodern condition: A report on Knowledge’ and also Lyotard’s essay “Answering the Question: What is Post modernism”. Lyotard defines postmodernism as a refusal to believe metanarratives or Grand narratives (or supernarratives). He says that mini narratives or small stories explain post modernism.
Samuel Becket’s “Waiting For Godot” is a typical example for a postmodernist work.
Ecocriticism is the study of literature and environment from an interdisciplinary point of view where all sciences come together to analyze the environment and make possible solution for the correction of the environmental situation.
Ecocritics consider other disciplines, such as history, philosophy, ethics and psychology can be contributors to ecocriticism.
Joseph Meeker’s “The Comody of Survival” published in 1974 says that environmental crisis is caused mainly by a cultural tradition in the West. They separated human culture from nature. He says “making love not war” is superior ecological value. We must love and protect our nature because human being is an integral part of Nature. If Nature is destroyed, human race is also be perished.
Camilo Gomides has offered an operational definition of ecocriticism. He defines ecocriticism as the field of enquiry that analyzes and promotes works of art which raise moral questions about human interactions with Nature, while also motivating audiences to live within a limit that will be binding over generations.
Ecofeminism says that the values and beliefs of patriarchal society have resulted in the exploitation of women and nature. The patriarchal society ignores women’s work, knowledge and the immediate location in nature, where the women’s relationship with the environment is more intimate than that of a man’s relationship with Nature.
The spiritualist part of ecofeminism turned to native American religions, goddess worship in Hinduism and other native cultures.
The materialist ecofeminists think that the spiritualist group are spoiling the ecofeminist dealing with social conditions and political decisions that encourage environment exploitation, encourage lavish consumerism, and fail to check military spending.
Vandana Shiva’s book titled “Staying Alive” has become a text for ecologists and ecofeminists. Vandana Shiva the great ecofeminist says that
India has always encouraged an
environment friendly culture.