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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultural conversations : the politics of myth and history in Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven and Nnedi… Ingram, Natalie 2013

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   byNbatyl ieInagtNrieg mlNBnl.iyrNr gliAl,TNBltehlB rgNiaTlrelUbTlUtIarnylvtTsgl  byNatlNieNbt tehleenhrliviatAiasgl IlntgNiartyNiml l by  Natalie Ingram  B.A., The University of British Columbia, 2010  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS  in  THE COLLEGE OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (English)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA   (Okanagan)  August 2013   ? Natalie Ingram, 2013 ii   tofCu20CllAlthough Western fantasy is a genre of literature that depends upon the creation of new cultures and new worlds, it remains very Euro-centric, and the cultural influences upon which the genre draws are typically Western in origin. This Euro-centric focus is one of the paradoxes of fantasy literature: while fantasy takes place in altered or entirely invented worlds, there is no expectation that these invented culture(s) will be significantly different than the cultures with which Western readers are already familiar. The characters of fantasy texts tend to be equally familiar, as they are disproportionately white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, and middle-class. Fantasy thus encodes a set of values that is not only Euro-centric, but patriarchal and traditional as well. This trend has begun to shift in recent years, however, as more texts begin to portray non-Western settings and otherwise challenge the traditional values that the genre has typically upheld. Recent examples of this shift include texts such as Guy Gavriel Kay?s byNat laieay and Nnedi Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n , both of which draw upon the myths and histories of non-Western cultures in order to establish their settings. Kay?s byNat laieay draws upon Tang Chinese and Uighur myths in order to create a fictional analogue of Tang Dynasty China during the events leading up to the An Lushan Rebellion, while Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n draws on myths from various African ethnic groups, including the Igbo and Yoruba peoples, and African countries in order to create a fictionalized, futuristic version of Sudan. I argue that both novels use myth to provide a sophisticated critique of the colonial and patriarchal values encoded in many fantasy texts. Ultimately, however, both texts also reinscribe those ideologies in a number of iii   ways, naturalizing the social constructions of gender that disempower women and exoticizing or homogenizing the cultures that the novels depict. iv   N2o1HlESl EMCHMCf  Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii Table of Contents  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  iv  A Note on Spelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  v Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  vi Chapter One: Speaking Myth: An Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1.1 Magic, Structure, and Setting in byNat laieay  and Ing raitm Bai.n  . . . . .  2 1.2 The Sacred Narratives of Multidisciplinary Myth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 1.3 The Universalism of Myth in Literary Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 1.4 Multivalent Myth in byNat laieay  and Ing raitm Bai.n  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24  Chapter Two: Rewriting and Revising Myth  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 2.1 Rewritten, Reinscribed: Selection and Emphasis in byNat laieay  . . . . . . .  28 2.2 Revising Oppression: Dynamic Myth in Ing raitm Bai.n  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  41 2.3 Reinscription, Re-imagination, and the Politics of Myth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  54  Chapter Three: Myth and History as a Method of Political Engagement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  55 3.1 Exploring Exclusions: The Gendered Knowledge of Myth in Ing raitm   Bai.n  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 3.2 Rape as a Weapon: Ing raitm Bai.n ?s Response to the Darfur Crisis . . . .  65 3.3 Fiction as a Comment on History in byNat laieay  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  68 3.4 Ahistorical Anthropophagy: The Anomaly of Man-Eating Barbarians in by Nat laieay  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  84 3.5 Insider/Outsider Perspectives and Embodied Myth in Ing raitm Bai.n  and byNat laieay  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  88  Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93  Works Cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101  v   tleECHlEMlgDH11PMRlllThroughout the thesis, readers will note that there are multiple spellings of some of the terms that are used. This is particularly true of many Chinese and Turkic names and titles, due to a recent shift in the way these names are spelled. For consistency?s sake, where applicable I have chosen to adopt the spelling that Okorafor and Kay use in their respective novels, though I have of course preserved the original spelling, capitalization, and other details of formatting of such terms in direct quotations. However, some terms with alternate spellings are not used directly in the novels themselves; for example, Kay creates fictional equivalents for the names of historical Chinese and Turkic figures rather than using the names of the historical figures themselves. In those instances, when referring to historical names and figures I have simply chosen to adopt the spelling used in recent scholarship. vi   t0LMEF1HORHQHMCfll A Master?s degree can often seem like an isolating experience, particularly after the umpteenth Saturday night spent with only a computer screen for company. It takes many hands, though, to complete a project like this one, and I have been extremely fortunate in the people that I?ve worked with. The first acknowledgement, of course, belongs to my supervisor Dr. Margaret Reeves. Margaret has provided thorough and incisive comments on a string of drafts so numerous that it approaches the double digits, has engaged me in some fascinating discussions on the topics of myth and fantasy in general and my thesis in particular, and most importantly, has been an unfailing source of encouragement and support. The input of my committee has also been tremendously valuable. Dr. Suzanne Gott?s research suggestions have been fantastically useful on the topic of African myths in particular, but also more generally in shedding some light on the unfamiliar waters of the anthropological scholarship on myth. Likewise, her insightful comments on my first chapter had a huge influence in guiding my first attempts at defining myth into something more coherent and concise. Dr. David Jefferess has referred me to some works of postcolonial scholarship that have not only been valuable but are frankly quite fascinating, and his comments on the thesis itself have gone a long way towards improving its structure and organization. He has a knack for identifying those areas where an idea or an argument can be pushed just a little bit farther, and the thesis has absolutely benefitted as a result. Dr. Michael Treschow has, again, provided research suggestions that have been extraordinarily helpful, particularly in the areas of literary and philosophical criticism on vii   myth. His comments have constantly pushed me towards addressing some of the ?big picture? concerns, both in terms of my arguments in the thesis itself, and in terms of the larger issues that my thesis deals with.  And of course, the entire committee has been nothing but supportive throughout the entire process. Margaret, Suzanne, David, and Michael: Thank you. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you.  I am also grateful for the financial support of UBC-Okanagan in the form of a University Graduate Fellowship Award for 2011-2012. Less direct but no less important support has come from friends and colleagues?office buddies, fellow teaching assistants, and other friends at various points in their graduate work have alternatively provided companionship, sounding boards, sympathetic ears, cheerleading squads, and, perhaps most importantly, things to think about that were Not My Thesis.  Finally, I would be remiss if I didn?t acknowledge the support of my family, who have had to live with me while I lived with my thesis, who have expressed interest and encouragement, and who have always been willing to ask ?Are you done yet?? even?especially!?when I didn?t want to hear it.   1    G2DCHuliMHmlgDH2LPMRl,(CGmltMlrMCuEO)0CPEM   Western fantasy is a genre of literature that depends upon the creation of new cultures and new worlds, other or altered realities in which the impossible is commonplace. Although it is supposedly an imaginative genre, known for its invented myths, histories, geographies, and cultures, modern Western fantasy remains very Euro-centric: its central characters are overwhelmingly male, straight, and white, and the cultural influences upon which the genre draws are typically Western in origin. Even magic, the very thing that distinguishes a fantasy setting, tends to be based on Western systems of thought, such as the now-clich? magical elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water derived from the writings of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle. Likewise, fantasy texts whose settings are based upon historical or current societies have traditionally focused on Western histories, geographies, and cultures. This Euro-centric focus is one of the paradoxes of fantasy literature: while fantasy takes place in altered or entirely invented worlds, there is no expectation that the altered or invented culture(s) will be significantly different than the cultures with which Western readers are already familiar. The principal characters of fantasy texts tend to be equally familiar, as they are disproportionately white, male, able-bodied, heterosexual, and middle-class. Fantasy thus encodes a set of values that is not only Euro-centric, but patriarchal and traditional as well. However, some recently published fantasy texts attempt to move beyond this traditional model, foregrounding the histories and myths of non-Western cultures and challenging the values encoded in many Western fantasy texts. 2   1.1 Magic, Structure, and Setting in byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n   What defines a fantasy text is not the inventiveness of the fictional setting, but the presence of magic within that setting. In Ana ,iThU vgNa, Maria Nikolajeva defines fantasy as ?the presence of magic, that is, magical beings or events, in an otherwise recognizable world? (12). Drawing on Tolkien?s ?On Fairy Stories,? Nikolajeva articulates a two-world structure that is essential to her concept of fantasy:  In fantasy two worlds, a real one (sthoitf ) and a magic one (maUgyNitf), are involved.  The ways they are connected may be different and constitute a variety of fantasy types. Within the magic world supernatural creatures or events may occur and are accepted, but against the background of the primary world they are apprehended as being out-of-place and always cause a sense of wonder. (13, original emphasis) The clearest examples of distinct primary and secondary worlds typically occur in what Farah Mendlesohn calls the portal-quest fantasy, in which ?a fantastic [or secondary] world [is] entered through a portal. . . . Crucially, the fantastic is gy .na g.nat mhNa nd does not ?leak?? (xix, original emphasis). C. S. Lewis?s Ana Chgyu .na Ih.Un iyN .na IitNtg2a (1950) is, as Mendlesohn notes, a ?classic? example of this kind of fantasy (xix). The story begins in the primary world, in this case in a home in the English countryside, and the wardrobe is the portal through which the Pevensie children enter the secondary world of Narnia. Although the primary and secondary worlds do not actually interact, the characters of the portal-quest fantasy are able to interact with both worlds by moving from one world to another. However, not all fantasy texts have discrete primary and secondary worlds. A large subset of fantasy texts take place in what Nikolajeva calls closed secondary worlds (37), worlds invented by 3   the authors. Unlike Ana Chgyu Ana Ih.Un iyN .na IitNtg2a , in which the characters journey from the primary world to the secondary world and back again, characters in closed secondary worlds generally do not have any contact with the primary world. Instead, the interaction between the primary and secondary worlds is conceptual, and occurs when aspects of the secondary world, such as its history, geography, or culture, correspond with the history, geography, or culture of the primary world (33). The characters of J. R. R. Tolkien?s Ana lg22h. and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, do not travel from a discrete primary world to a secondary one. Rather, their stories take place entirely within the closed secondary world of Middle Earth, which interacts with the primary world through its allusions to aspects of real cultures, such the references in Middle Earth cosmology to Norse mythology.  This conceptual interaction between the primary and secondary worlds thus establishes the setting of a fantasy text. Often, aspects of the secondary world correspond closely to aspects of Western culture, and many closed secondary worlds are fictional variations of a medieval or Renaissance European society. However, a growing number of fantasy texts portray settings based on non-Western cultures. Guy Gavriel Kay?s byNat laieay and Nnedi Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n , the novels upon which my analysis will focus, draw upon the myths and histories of Asian and African cultures respectively in order to create their secondary worlds. While the way in which each novel uses myth, to be discussed in more detail below, is the primary focus of my analysis, the use of history is also important in establishing each novel?s secondary world. Kitai, the fictional empire of Kay?s byNat laieay , is based on the historical empire of Tang Dynasty China (618-907 A.D.) during the events leading up to the An Lushan Rebellion (755-763 A.D.). The novel begins 4   when the protagonist Shen Tai is given 250 Sardian horses as a reward for the two years he has spent burying the dead. The possession of so many Sardian horses, which are highly sought after in Kitai and in neighbouring empires, makes Tai a figure of great political interest, and he must navigate the complex intrigue of the Kitan courts during a time of increasing unrest. Although the protagonist is fictional, many of the novel?s key political players are based on historical figures who exerted political influence before and during the An Lushan Rebellion; likewise, many of the novel?s major events correspond closely to the historical events of that rebellion. This overlap between the history and the political figures of Tang China, on the one hand, and the characters and events of byNat laieay , on the other, is central to establishing the setting of Kay?s secondary world. This overlap allows the novel not only to reflect the historical period of the Tang Dynasty, but also to comment upon the ideologies that existed during that period, a point that I will discuss in more detail in Chapter Three.  In Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n , the interaction between primary and secondary worlds establishes the novel?s setting as a far-future version of Africa. The relationship between the secondary world of the Seven Rivers Kingdom, the fictional nation in which Ing raitm Bai.n  takes place, and the primary world is made explicit late in the novel, when the Seven Rivers Kingdom is described as ?this place that used to be the Kingdom of Sudan? (Okorafor 381). However, it is the novel?s references to African history, myths, and political institutions that are most important to the setting and the plot of Ing raitm Bai.n . The Seven Rivers Kingdom is inhabited primarily by two warring groups, the Okeke and the Nuru, and much of the novel?s conflict is driven by the Nuru people?s attempt to enslave, and ultimately exterminate, the Okeke people. Stopping the physical and sexual violence to 5   which the Okeke people are subjected is one of the primary motivations of Onyesonwu, the novel?s protagonist. Before she can stand against the genocide of the Okeke people, however, Onyesonwu must first learn to control her magical abilities. This in turn requires her to gain acceptance into the highly selective and highly patriarchal institution of sorcery, a struggle which defines the early chapters of the novel. The institution of sorcery that Onyesonwu seeks to join functions in a similar fashion to male secret societies that exist in Igbo and other cultures, while the violence experienced by the Okeke people responds to Western media portrayals of racially-motivated violence during the Darfur crisis. As the third chapter of my thesis will show, these relationships between the primary world and the secondary world of Ing raitm Bai.n  are integral to not only the novel?s setting, but also its politics.  While the above discussion has focused on the way in which the setting of each text is established by its interaction with the primary world, the way in which magic is used is equally important in establishing not only the setting, but also the structure and politics of each novel. In what Mendlesohn calls immersive fantasies, which are usually closed world fantasies, readers are asked to share ?not merely a world, but a set of assumptions? (xx). Typically, the assumptions that readers of immersive fantasy are asked to share include the existence and operations of magic, which is often integral to the fantasy world. The unquestioned existence of magic in Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n is one example of this. Although Onyesonwu is initially surprised by her ability to manipulate magic, she quickly learns that her abilities are natural and normal, and that those who wield magic are actually an important part of the political landscape of the Seven Rivers Kingdom. Other assumptions that readers of immersive fantasies are invited to share encompass knowledge of the secondary world?s geography and its political and cultural institutions. Many fantasy texts 6   that portray closed secondary worlds, including both byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n , assume the existence of a patriarchal political structure in which women are limited to appropriately ?female? roles; powerful women in byNat laieay are typically either courtesans or noblewomen, while women with magical abilities in Ing raitm Bai.n are expected to become healers, and are traditionally excluded from the more powerful (male) role of sorcerer. It is important to note, however, that while closed secondary worlds often assume the existence of patriarchal (or other oppressive) institutions, they do not necessarily assume that these institutions are worth upholding. Indeed, as I will demonstrate in Chapter Three, Onyesonwu?s attempt to challenge the patriarchal assumptions of the institution of sorcery is essential to the plot of Ing raitm Bai.n .  In byNat laieay , encounters with magic are comparatively rare. The first appearance of magic occurs in the opening chapter, during which Tai is in the deserted valley of Kuala Nor, burying the bones of fallen soldiers in order to quiet their ghosts. However, Tai soon leaves Kuala Nor behind, and does not encounter the ghosts again. Instead, Tai meets a Nih0h, a fox-spirit capable of transforming into a beautiful woman, while his sister Li-Mei encounters the shamanistic magic of the nomadic Bog? tribe (Tai?s own encounter with the Bog? is described through a series of flashbacks, the events of which take place well before the events of the novel?s opening chapter). Unlike Ing raitm Bai.n , in which magic is assumed to be a natural part of the secondary world, the portrayal of magic in byNat laieay is not consistent with Mendlesohn?s category of immersive fantasy. Rather, byNat laieay is what Mendlesohn calls an intrusion fantasy, in which magic intrudes upon the secondary world: it is unwanted and unexpected, its appearance wreaks havoc, and the characters? lives can return to normal only once the intrusion leaves or is defeated (xxii). The appearance of 7   the Nih0h and the magical abilities of Bog? shamans in byNat laieay  are both treated as intrusions, although they are intrusions of a very different kind. While Xu Liang, the supposed Nih0h, certainly poses a threat to Tai?s political position (and perhaps his physical well-being), as an individual she is no more dangerous than any of the other characters who attempt to manipulate Tai for political gain. It is specifically her magical abilities, and indeed the notion that such abilities might exist in the first place, that make the Nih0h an intrusive, threatening figure. The type of intrusion that the Nih0h represents can be best described by what Tzvetan Todorov calls a ?hesitation,? the feeling of confusion ?experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event? (25). It is this feeling of confusion, more than any concrete danger that the Nih0h might pose, that characterizes her appearance in the novel. Fox-spirits are so far outside of everyday experience in Kitai that Tai frequently questions whether they even exist, and while the narrative hints that such spirits are indeed real, their existence is never confirmed. The shamanistic magic of the Bog? is equally intrusive. Although Bog? magic is unambiguously real, it is always experienced from the point of view of outsiders to the Bog? culture, in particular Tai and Li-Mei, and is presented as utterly beyond either character?s understanding. In fact, witnessing Bog? magic is deeply unsettling for Li-Mei and utterly horrifying for Tai, both of whom must leave the Bog? and their magic behind in order to return to ?normal? life in Kitai. I will discuss the significance of these two types of intrusion in greater detail in Chapter Three, in which I argue that the novel?s portrayal of magic attempts to deconstruct the typical relationship between colonized and colonizing peoples, but ultimately reinscribes racial difference.   8   1.2 The Sacred Narratives of Multidisciplinary Myth  As the above discussion demonstrates, considerable critical attention has been paid to the way in which magic functions in fantasy literature. There is also an emerging body of scholarship that examines the ways in which fantasy authors use myth, due to the frequency with which fantasy authors draw upon existing myths in order to create fantastic settings. Common creatures in fantasy such as dragons, gryphons, and unicorns, for example, are derived from the myths and legends of historical cultures. In some fantasy texts, references to such creatures, or to other mythical figures or narratives, exist simply as a backdrop against which the story takes place. In other texts, however, elements borrowed from the myths of historical or current cultures are an integral part of the secondary world. This is particularly true in both Kay?s byNat laieay and Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n , in which myths borrowed from real cultures are central to the politics and culture of each text?s secondary world. Indeed, it is primarily these myths that establish both novels as fantasies, since the magical occurrences in each book are based almost entirely upon the myths of real cultures: the myths of the historical Tang Chinese and nomadic Uighur peoples in byNat laieay , and the myths of current African cultures, particularly those of the Igbo and Yoruba peoples, in Ing raitm Bai.n .  However, there is currently no scholarship on either byNat laieay or Ing raitm Bai.n , and most of the existing scholarship on myth in fantasy literature focuses on adaptations of Western myths, often Biblical or classical, in the works of major authors such as Lewis, Tolkien, and, more recently, Philip Pullman. For example, William Gray?s ,f.nu riy.imfu iyN .na ,aim1ta gH At1.nE AiSam gH M1SSoiyu CaDhmu AgSPhayu ,iUBgyiSN iyN lgHHoiy discusses Biblical influences in the works of multiple fantasy authors, noting as 9   well Lewis and Tolkien?s shared fascination with Norse myth. Similarly, Elisabeth Rose Gruner?s ?Wrestling with Religion: Pullman, Pratchett, and the Uses of Story? examines how the works of Pullman and Terry Pratchett engage with issues of religion (meaning Christianity) and storytelling. This focus on Biblical myths is also present in academic scholarship on the works of influential African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler. In ?Subversion Through Inclusion: Octavia Butler?s Interrogation of Religion in RaygTaymhm and IhSN LaaN,? Sarah Wood argues that Butler revises Biblical narratives in order to ?incorporate the specificity of the African-American experience? (87), while Michele Osherow, whose ?The Dawn of a New Lilith: Revisionary Myth-Making in Women?s Science Fiction? will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter Two, examines the adaptation of the Biblical figure of Lilith in the works of Butler and C. L. Moore.  Osherow?s discussion of the appearance of a specific Biblical character in the works of multiple authors is indicative of another trend in scholarship on myth and fantasy, which is to examine a specific mythical trope as it appears in multiple works. Holly Virginia Blackford?s Ana ,f.n gH Matmasngya hy FhtSmO riy.imf Ch.ati.1ta, for example, traces allusions to the story of Persephone and Demeter in a number of fantasy texts. Many other studies that adopt this approach do so from a specifically Jungian perspective, analyzing the appearance of particular Jungian archetypes in fantasy stories; Jacqueline Furby and Claire Hines?s riy.imf and William Indick?s QyUhay. Lfo2gSgTf hy riy.imf Ch.ati.1ta E Q MmfUngSgThUiS L.1Nf discuss the appearance of various Jungian archetypes in fantasy films and fantasy literature respectively, while Edgar C. Bailey?s ?Shadows in Earthsea: LeGuin?s Use of a Jungian Archetype? examines the specific Jungian archetype of the shadow in 10   Ursula LeGuin?s Earthsea novels. Such studies are demonstrative of the general tendency in scholarship on myth and fantasy to examine recognizable Western tropes and archetypes. There is also a growing body of scholarship that examines the work of writers using non-Western myths. However, this scholarship tends to place little focus on the specific cultural contexts from which those myths arise. For example, Jerrilyn McGregory contends in ?Nalo Hopkinson?s Approach to Speculative Fiction? that Hopkinson uses West African myths in order to challenge the conventions of the fantasy genre. Similarly, Gina Wisker, in ??Your Buried Ghosts Have a Way of Tripping You Up?: Revisioning and Mothering in African-American and Afro-Caribbean Women?s Speculative Horror,? examines the way in which Hopkinson?s portrayal of Afro-Caribbean and African-American myths interacts with the conventions of Gothic literature. Although both McGregory and Wisker profess interest in the way that Hopkinson uses myths to explore experiences of race and gender, neither McGregory nor Wisker place much emphasis on the myths themselves. McGregory?s discussion of specific West African myths is limited mainly to a list of which of Hopkinson?s fictionalized deities correspond to actual West African deities, while Wisker identifies Hopkinson?s Afro-Caribbean ?influences? on what she asserts are common Gothic tropes, identifying, for example, the soucouyant as a Caribbean equivalent to the Western vampire without providing any discussion of how the soucouyant actually appears in Caribbean myths or folklore (77). Equating a figure of Caribbean myth and folklore so casually with a Western one robs the soucouyant of any culturally specific context that may be important to analyzing the soucouyant?s appearance in works of fiction. Even academic works that specifically analyze myth in relation to experiences of colonization in fantasy fiction tend to ignore culturally specific contexts by focusing on the fictionalized myths of the secondary world, 11   rather than the real cultures from which those myths are drawn. For example, in ?Paradigms of Colonization: Exploring Themes of Imperialism in Guy Gavriel Kay?s AhTiyi,? Diana Pharaoh Francis argues that the existence of mythical creatures in AhTiyi allows the novel to challenge the idea that the religious beliefs of colonized cultures are simple superstition (Francis 125). Francis?s analysis, which I will discuss in greater detail in Chapter Three, is compelling; however, its discussion of myth focuses entirely on the secondary world of AhTiyi, and does not acknowledge that the myths portrayed in the novel are drawn from actual cultures with their own histories of colonization. McGregory?s, Wisker?s, and Francis?s arguments about understanding myth as a method of subverting Euro-centrism and colonialism respectively offer valuable insight into a genre of literature that has traditionally focused on white characters, Western traditions and myths, and often imperialistic narratives. However, examining myth only in the context of a fantasy text?s secondary world ignores the way in which such fictionalized myths may reflect on the real cultures from which the fictional ones are drawn. Indeed, as I will show, the fictionalized myths of by Nat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n  are not only inspired by Asian and African myths, but also provide commentary on those myths. Furthermore, examining such myths only in the context of the secondary world divorces them from important, even critical contexts, since myths are not merely narratives that happen to be about gods, but narratives that inculcate a particular set of values and beliefs.  The G(HgtN )yTShmn BhU.hgyitf GyShya (G)B ) states that a myth is a ?traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces, which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon? (?Myth,? def n. 1a). In the introduction to 12   LiUtaN Vitti.heaE YaiNhyTm hy .na Anagtf gH ,f.n, Alan Dundes asserts that myths are not merely traditional, but sacred, stating that ?[t]he critical adjective miUtaN distinguishes myth from other forms of narratives such as folktales, which are ordinarily secular and fictional? (1).  According to Dundes, mythic narratives are religious in nature, and all religions, including Christianity, ?incorporate myths of some kind;? furthermore, mythic narratives are not fictional, but ?may constitute the highest form of truth? (1). While Dundes himself argues that the truth to be found in myths is metaphorical, he also states that there are multiple ways of understanding myth, writing that the study of these sacred narratives is ?an international and an interdisciplinary venture. . . . [S]cholars [of myth] include students of anthropology, classics, comparative religion, folklore, psychology, and theology? (1). My thesis focuses primarily on the way in which myths are portrayed in literature, rather than the study of sacred narratives themselves. However, examining myth scholarship in other disciplines, particularly anthropology, provides a useful basis for understanding myths within their cultural contexts, which, as my analysis will show, is crucial to interpreting the myths portrayed in literary works. It is also important to examine the way in which historical trends within the broader field of myth scholarship, such as the tendency of universalist scholars to downplay or ignore the differences between cultures in favour of a univocal truth, have influenced the way in which literary critics understand myth.   While Dundes observes that myth scholarship is a broad field with many diverging opinions, he also contends that there are general trends within the field that have changed considerably over time, writing that ?[t]here has been a dramatic shift in theoretical orientation from the nineteenth century to the twentieth. In the nineteenth century, myth theorists were primarily interested in questions of origins? (2-3). Some scholars, using what 13   Dundes calls the comparative method, collected variations of the same myth in order to reconstruct that myth in its ?original? form (3). Other scholars assumed that myths originated from the attempts of primitive cultures to understand natural phenomena, and that myths were understood by such cultures to be literal truth (3). In his introduction to James George Frazer?s essay ?The Fall of Man,? Dundes provides an example of such a theoretical approach. Describing what he calls ?unilinear evolutionary theory,? Dundes writes that according to this theory,  all peoples were believed to have passed through the identical successive stages of savagery, barbarism, and civilization. . . . It was argued that sacred myth became secular folktale in the barbarism period . . . finally dying out completely among civilized societies.  (72) This theory assumed that ?civilized? societies such as England and France were the natural endpoint of the evolutionary process, and that the beliefs of so-called primitive or ?modern savage? peoples were not indicative of different cultural contexts, but rather an earlier stage of evolution. Indeed, knowledge gleaned from such primitive societies was assumed to be directly applicable to so-called civilized societies; according to Dundes, scholars used ethnographic data from other societies not to understand those other societies but rather ?to elucidate many perplexing puzzles of modern civilization? (72). Dundes points to Frazer?s ?The Fall of Man? as one example of this type of scholarship, in which Frazer compares the Biblical story of the fall of man to death myths from ?modern savage? societies in order to explain ?features of the Genesis story hitherto not fully understood? (73). While Frazer?s work has been influential, particularly Ana FgSNay kg1Tn, his collection of ethnographic data from various societies originally published in 1890, Dundes notes that Frazer has since been 14   criticized for his tendency to remove ?ethnographic facts [from] their cultural contexts? (73). This concern with cultural contexts signals one of the major shifts in theoretical understandings of myth between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. According to Dundes, in the twentieth century scholars of myth ?turned to considerations of the structure and function of . . . myths in their actual cultural contexts? (3). Gregory Schrempp, however, argues in the introduction to the 2002 volume ,f.nE Q VaD Lfosgmh1o that the influence of nineteenth-century scholars lingered in the twentieth century despite this theoretical shift. Schrempp writes that while there was considerable scepticism among twentieth-century scholars towards the ?world-synthesizing perspectives? of the nineteenth century, such as the evolutionism practiced by Frazer and other scholars who focused on ethnographic data gathered from ?modern savage? societies, many twentieth-century scholars were nevertheless influenced by the tendency of nineteenth-century scholars to treat the study of myth as a science with universal rules (7). According to Schrempp, twentieth-century scholars sought the ?underlying building blocks . . . classifying species . . . and natural laws? of myth (Schrempp 8), which were assumed to be the same for all cultures. One example of this type of scholarship is the work of Claude L?vi-Strauss. Certainly, L?vi-Strauss was in some ways attentive to cultural contexts, as Dundes argues was typical of twentieth-century scholars; L?vi-Strauss?s 1958 ?The Story of Asdiwal,? for example, argues that the story of Asdiwal, a Tsimshian (Canadian aboriginal) myth, can be understood on ?geographic, economic, sociological, and cosmological? levels, and insists that certain facts about the Tsimshian are necessary to understand the myth of Asdiwal on the first three levels (L?vi-Strauss 296). However, Schrempp argues that L?vi-Strauss?s methodology disregards other culturally significant traits, such as a myth?s original language, style, and form, in order 15   to ascertain the ?gross constituent units? of myth that supposedly apply to all cultures (L?vi-Strauss qtd. in Schrempp 10).1 In other words, while Levi-Strauss?s work acknowledges the importance of cultural contexts to a certain degree, it positions those contexts as mere layers, under which there lies a universal or cosmological logic.  Using the essays collected in ,f.nE Q VaD Lfosgmh1o as an example, Schrempp contends that the trends in myth scholarship continue to shift away from universal truths and towards the study of myths in culturally specific contexts, noting in VaD Lfosgmh1o a lack of ?world-synthesizing? perspectives (7), a cautious treatment of supposedly universal ideas (8), and an increasing interest in ?detailed sociohistorical contexts and original-language texts? (9). These detailed sociohistorical contexts often show that a culture?s myths are more than just a collection of religious narratives; they are also narratives that contain important knowledge and reflect or even shape that culture?s realities. Examples of such scholarship include Barre Toelken?s ?Native American Reassessment and Reinterpretation of Myths,? which argues that the Navajo people revise their mythic narratives in a way that reflects their cultural and political realities, and Sabine Jell-Bahlsen?s Ana Ii.at FgNNamm hy 3T2g vgmogSgTfE GT21hNa gH GT1.i CiPa, which argues that ritual and myth among the Oru-Igbo encode and reflect values about (among other things) gendered relationships. This understanding of myth as not just religious, but politically and culturally important, is central to my thesis. While the myths that I examine in byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n are only loosely connected to religion within the context of each novel?s secondary world, they are borrowed from the sacred narratives of historical Asian and current African cultures.                                                  1 For a more detailed discussion of the universalizing methodologies of L?vi-Strauss, see John H. McDowell?s ?From Expressive Language to Mythemes: Meaning in Mythic Narratives,? also in VaD Lfosgmh1o. 16   Furthermore, as I will show, the myths in byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n are politically and culturally important both within the context of each novel?s secondary world and within the real cultures on which the myths are based.   1.3 The Universalism of Myth in Literary Criticism  However, it is difficult to examine the political and cultural importance of mythic narratives purely through the lens of literary criticism. As mentioned above, existing scholarship on myth and fantasy tends to focus entirely on the presentation of myths within a fantasy text?s secondary world, disregarding important sociocultural and political contexts that exist in the cultures from which those myths are drawn. Furthermore, while the study of myth in anthropology and folklore has tended to move away from the universalizing or world-synthesizing perspectives discussed above, those universalizing perspectives have exerted significant influence on myth scholarship in the area of literary criticism. In the work of some scholars, this influence appears in the guise of supposedly-universal literary structures, such as the monomyth proposed in Joseph Campbell?s 1949 Ana latg Dh.n i Ang1miyN riUam. While Campbell is a comparative mythologist, rather than a literary critic, I have chosen to place this discussion of Campbell?s work within a discussion of literary criticism because Campbell?s influence is greater in the humanities than it is in social sciences like anthropology (Dundes 256). Indeed, Dundes notes that the ethnographic data collected by anthropologists do not support Campbell?s conclusions; however, Dundes argues that Campbell?s works are nonetheless worth considering, due to Campbell?s popularity outside of the academy (257). Ana latg Dh.n i Ang1miyN riUam claims that all myths adhere to the same basic structure, called the monomyth (Campbell 3), and that 17   examples of this structure can be found in myths worldwide. Dundes refutes Campbell?s claim by examining the element of the monomyth known as ?The Belly of the Whale,? which Campbell claims is a ?worldwide womb image? (Campbell 90). However, Dundes observes that while Campbell cites several examples of heroes being swallowed, in only two of those examples are protagonists swallowed by actual whales (256). Dundes argues that it is impossible to call the ?belly of the whale? image a worldwide image on the basis of two examples, adding that in fact there are several cultures in which this image does not exist (257). Dundes writes that ?[i]t is undoubtedly comforting to think that all mankind shares common myths and metaphors, but the empirical facts don?t support such an illusion,? dismissing not only Campbell?s particular assertions, but also universalist claims in general (257).  While Dundes dismisses claims of universalism as not grounded in empirical reality, postcolonial scholar Arun Mukherjee argues in ?The Vocabulary of the ?Universal?: Cultural Imperialism and Western Literary Criticism? that claims of universalism are not simply erroneous, but damaging. Mukherjee criticizes the supposedly-universal criteria of literature that some Western literary critics use to examine works by non-Western writers. Such criteria, Mukherjee argues, disconnect literature from the concrete cultural reality in which it is grounded, de-politicize works grounded in resistance to and opposition of oppression, emphasize vague themes that are generalized almost to the point of meaninglessness, and otherwise distort stories that do not fit neatly into a Western framework (344, 346, 351). While Mukherjee?s article focuses on the universalist claims made in literary criticism rather than in myth scholarship, the universalist criteria with which Mukherjee engages are certainly influenced, at least in part, by scholars like Campbell. Mukherjee demonstrates this 18   by engaging briefly with a supposedly-universal motif that is also the central trope of Campbell?s monomyth, that of the quest. Campbell uses a series of carefully-selected examples to construct the monomyth, a ?marvellously constant story? (Campbell 3), as an individual journey, during which the hero undergoes a series of trials in order to attain his destiny. Mukherjee, however, argues that ?[i]t is not possible to accept that the quest, the Jungian journey to the underworld, the individual?s growth from ignorance to knowledge, etc. are ?universal? archetypes. . . . For example, instead of the quest, the main motif of Indian epics is exile? (349-50). Campbell argues that all myths derive from a single structure, and that ?the problems and solutions? shown within this single structure, such as individual obstacles and growth, ?are directly valid for all mankind? (19). However, this supposedly-universal monomyth does not account for narratives structured by different tropes, such as the Indian epics that Mukherjee argues are shaped by different motifs and concerns.   While Campbell relies on specific examples to prove his assertions about the structure of the monomyth, Northrop Frye, in his 1957 book Qyi.gof gH vth.hUhmo, proposes a generalized system of literature characterized by the existence of archetypes, ?a group of universal symbols . . . [or] images of things common to all men? (118). Because literature is steeped in archetypes, a given literary work can only be understood in relation to the body of literature as a whole (99). Philosopher Paul Ricoeur, in the second volume of Ahoa iyN Vitti.hea  (1985), describes archetypal criticism as an example of ?traditionality,? a way of structuring (in this case, literary) tradition that is ?neither historical nor ahistorical but transhistorical? (15). Ricoeur contends that the proper function of criticism is to ?discern a style of [literary] development? rather than to simply produce a history of literary works, but also argues that ?[c]riticism cannot eliminate [literary history] because it is familiarity with 19   literary works, as they have appeared in the succession of cultures to which we are the heirs, that instructs narrative understanding? (14). In other words, Frye?s archetypal criticism works gySf in relation to the history of a specific literary tradition. That specific tradition, however, is not universal, but Western. Although Frye notes that Qyi.gof gH vth.hUhmo focuses primarily on Western literature, this is not because Frye acknowledges that the literatures of other cultures might have different structures or thematic concerns. Rather, Frye proposes that literature is comprised of different modes that incorporate the supernatural to varying degrees: myth, which is about characters who are actually divine or godlike; mimetic fiction, of which there are several types and which is more or less realistic; and romance, the mode that exists between those two extremes (Qyi.gof 33-34). ?[T]he establishing of the high mimetic mode,? Frye writes, ?is one of the great feats of Greek civilization. Oriental fiction does not, so far as I know, get very far away from mythical and romantic formulas? (35). This comment indicates that these modes are apparently applicable not only to Western literature but also to the literature of other cultures, since ?Oriental? literature also uses romantic and mythic modes. At the same time, this comment implies a theory of literature reminiscent of Frazer?s evolutionism?that the literatures of all cultures evolve in basically the same way?since mimetic fiction is characterized as a ?feat? of Greek civilization while Oriental literature has yet to reach that rung of the literary ladder.  This refusal to acknowledge the differences between Western and Oriental literature as anything other than different stages of cultural evolution is indicative of a more general tendency in Qyi.gof gH vth.hUhmo to disregard particular cultural contexts. Frye argues that archetypal criticism is autonomous, ?existing in its own universe, no longer a commentary on life or reality, but containing life and reality in a system of verbal relationships? (122). This 20   concept of autonomy allows the archetypal critic to focus entirely on the study of literary conventions, that is, archetypes, without relying on information from outside disciplines such as history and anthropology. Practically speaking, however, this supposed autonomy subordinates ?life and reality? to the study of archetypes. While Frye observes that ?[s]ocial and cultural history . . . will always be a part of the context of criticism? (110), critics such as John Fekete have argued that archetypal criticism ?occludes the real historical subjectivity of human praxis? (111); that is, references to ?life and reality? are understood in relation to literature rather than any specific historical period, and are thus divorced from any cultural or historical context. Mukherjee shows the de-contextualizing effect of so-called universalizing themes quite clearly by examining the reaction of Western literary critics to Kamala Markandaya?s Q LhSayUa gH Bamhta, which Mukherjee argues is ?a concrete exploration of the realities of lower-middle-class Indian life at the bureaurocratic, matrimonial and economic levels? (351). However, Mukherjee observes that Western critics tend to discuss the novel in terms of clich?s such as Western rationality and Eastern spirituality. Applying these themes to Q LhSayUa gH Bamhta, Mukherjee argues, distorts the novel in all of the ways cited above; it disconnects the novel from the concrete economic reality that the novel is trying to explore, it de-politicizes the novel?s exploration of economic oppression, and it reduces a complex literary work to ?a simple theorem of East meets West? (351). Mukherjee demonstrates that models of Western criticism that divorce literary works from their cultural contexts, such as Frye?s archetypal criticism, are ill-equipped to understand non-Western literatures, and indeed their myths. Furthermore, although Frye?s archetypal criticism attempts to incorporate both myth and literature, the way in which it decouples myth and literature from historical and cultural contexts means that archetypal criticism is incapable of understanding myths, 21   whether Western or not, in the sense of the sacred, culturally important narratives discussed above.   Frye returns to the idea of myth in Ana Ftai. vgNaE Ana kh2Sa iyN Ch.ati.1ta (1982), which in some ways is a significant revision of Qyi.gof gH vth.hUhmo. While Frye revisits the concept of autonomy, he does not argue in Ana Ftai. vgNa that literature is autonomous from history or culture, but rather that myth is autonomous from nature, an assertion that is a clear reaction against the assumption of Frazer and other evolutionary anthropologists that all myths arise from a naive attempt to understand natural phenomena. ?In rgSPSgta iyN .na GSN Aam.ioay.,? Frye complains, Frazer ?collects flood stories from all over the world, in typically Frazerian fashion, and then suggests that in every case a local flood was the reason for the myth? (53). Frye contends that this suggestion is wholly inadequate to explain why cultures create myths, arguing that myth-making is not a direct response to the surrounding environment, but rather depends upon the imaginations of the people who create the myths (55). He explicitly condemns the colonial thinking underlying the evolutionary methodology, writing that dismissing myth as a naive understanding of nature ?was obviously part of an ideology designed to rationalize the European treatment of ?natives? on darker continents, and the less attention given it now the better? (56). Interestingly, Frye?s comments about the Frazerian method also contain an implied critique of universalism, since his insistence that myth depends upon cultural imagination suggests an implicit acknowledgement of the subject-positions of the people of that culture. Indeed, Ana Ftai. vgNa asserts that specific cultural values are essential to the process of myth-making, and references scholars such as L?vi-Strauss in order to come to a general understanding of myth that is similar to the one that I propose above: that is, a sacred and culturally important narrative. However, just as 22   Qyi.gof gH vth.hUhmo makes general statements that supposedly apply to the literatures of all cultures, Ana Ftai. vgNa makes general statements that supposedly apply to the myth-making processes of cultures, as indicated by Frye?s (albeit infrequent) references to the myths of non-Western cultures. General statements such ?myths are the stories that tell a society what is important for it to know? (50), while certainly difficult to disprove, relieve Frye of the need to actually examine the specific cultural contexts that he insists are central to the process of myth-making. Frye?s argument, essentially a series of assertions about the importance of the cultural specificity of myth substantiated almost entirely by references to the Bible, offers little real insight into the myths of non-Western cultures or the cultural contexts that are central to understanding those myths. Much as L?vi-Strauss argues in favour of the importance of the local and specific while focusing on universal or cosmological logic, Frye insists upon the importance of specific cultural contexts to myth-making processes without providing any examination into contexts beyond his own.   While Frye?s archetypal criticism has largely fallen out of fashion due to its universalizing methodology, and even Frye himself takes an important step away from that universalism in Ana Ftai. vgNa, universalizing methodologies are evident even in relatively recent literary discussions of myth. In rtgo lgoat .g littf Mg..atE Q liyN2ggP gy ,f.n iyN riy.imf (2006), Matthew Dickerson and David O?Hara, responding to the vernacular meaning of myth as untruth, propose that myth, rather than expressing historical or scientific fact, expresses what they call ?profound truths.?  Their attempt to articulate these profound truths, however, turns to overly general themes such as ?human nature, divine nature, [or] love? (35). Quoting Walter Wangerin Junior?s Ana Gtsnaiy MimmiTam, Dickerson and O?Hara conclude that ?truth is neither temporally, spatially, nor socially relativistic. It 23   therefore makes sense to stamay. truth in a context that transcends specific cultures and reaches instead ?through Ug1y.Samm generations? and ?many Nhmsiti.a cultures? (emphasis ours)? (36). In other words, they argue that myth communicates 1yheatmiS truths, truths that transcend all differences and create some sort of essential humanity. However, as Mukherjee demonstrates, applying universal themes to texts outside of Western literature tends to place false emphasis on individual journeys, ignore the place a particular text occupies in the conversations (literary, academic, cultural) that surround it, and ignore the concrete realities of the people that produced the text in the first place. To understand Onyesonwu?s quest to learn magic in Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n as a journey of self-improvement, for example, ignores the specific African myths that are essential to both the plot and the politics of the novel. Onyesonwu?s magical abilities are drawn directly from African myths, while her struggle to become accepted as a sorcerer is a conflict that directly reflects, and comments upon, the gendered relationships of Igbo secret societies. Similarly, the myths portrayed in Kay?s byNat laieay are borrowed from the historical period of Tang Dynasty China and the neighbouring Uighur Qa?anate (empire). These myths do more than establish the novel?s setting, however; they also comment upon the ideologies of the cultures that created those myths in the first place. Understanding myths not as universal but as culturally specific, and also as important to the particular cultures from which they arise, is central to understanding the ideas with which both byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n engage.  24   1.4 Multivalent Myth in byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n    Myth, and to a lesser extent history, are important in both byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n  in a number of ways. Because myth plays such a substantial role in establishing the setting of each novel, Chapter Two will discuss at length the real myths upon which the myths of byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n are based. In byNat laieay , Kay re-presents the myths of the Tang Chinese and Uighur peoples, focusing particularly on the fox myths of the Tang Chinese and the shamanism of the Uighur, while Okorafor, in Ing raitm Bai.n , draws on the myths of a number of African ethnic groups, particularly the Igbo and the Yoruba peoples, and to a lesser extent on myths from the country of Sudan. In Chapter Two, I will compare the myths of each novel?s secondary world to the real-world myths from which the fictionalized versions are drawn. I argue that while Kay focuses on the myths that existed during the historical period about which he is writing, his portrayal of these myths is misleadingly narrow. Kay disregards many aspects of the broad and complex tradition of fox narratives in order to present, in byNat laieay , a fox-woman whose only characteristic is her exaggerated sexuality. Likewise, while shamans were historically only one part of Uighur religion, the Bog? of byNat laieay are defined entirely by their relationship to shamanism. Ultimately, the myths of byNat laieay ?s secondary world are grounded as much in Western traditions of exoticism as they are in the cultural traditions of the historical Uighur and Tang Chinese.   While Kay uses myth to ground his secondary world in the past, Okorafor uses myth to situate her secondary world in the future. Incorporating Yoruba, Igbo, and Sudanese myths into the cosmology of a single fictional people, the Okeke of Okorafor?s secondary world, helps to establish the setting as a future, rather than current, version of Sudan. More than 25   that, however, I argue that creating a setting in which the myths have changed over time challenges the modern colonial notion that indigenous identity is fixed and unchangeable. The specific myths upon which Ing raitm Bai.n  draws are also important as intertexts, as Okorafor uses the altered myths of her secondary world as a method of critiquing the oppressions that exist in the real-world myths from which the novel?s fictional myths are drawn. For example, her portrayal of the female character Ting as exceptionally knowledgeable about the Nsibidi script challenges the current belief in Igbo (and some other) societies that knowledge of Nsibidi should be an exclusively male privilege, while her decision to portray twins according to Yoruba beliefs revises a far more oppressive view of twins in Igbo society. Throughout Ing raitm Bai.n , Okorafor uses the myths of the secondary world to examine and criticize oppressions enabled by current Igbo beliefs.   My third chapter will focus on the way in which the myths of each novel?s secondary world interrogate the ideologies of the historical and current cultures on which the secondary worlds are based. Myth is central to Okorafor?s exploration of gendered exclusions in Ing raitm Bai.n . Just as the mechanics of sorcery are drawn from Igbo beliefs, the gendered exclusions that Onyesonwu experiences as a sorcerer are based on the gendered exclusions perpetuated by male secret societies in Igbo and other cultures. I argue, however, that Okorafor?s critique of patriarchal institutions is somewhat limited. While the characters of Ing raitm Bai.n manage to overcome these gendered exclusions to a certain degree, female sorcerers are still portrayed as both exceptional and dangerous; furthermore, the novel largely ignores the female societies that exist in Igbo cultures, presenting the male role of sorcerer as the only role that is powerful or desirable. Okorafor?s examination of gendered and racial violence, which I discuss in the same chapter, is more compelling. I argue that 26   Onyesonwu?s magical abilities allow Okorafor to foreground the novel?s concern with the use of rape as a weapon of ethnic conflict. As I will show in this chapter, the novel?s portrayal of rape responds directly to Western portrayals of the Darfur conflict. Drawing this connection to the Darfur crisis allows Okorafor to acknowledge the importance of the novel?s geographical setting, and to examine the violence that occurred there.  Similarly, I argue that the many historical parallels between the secondary world of Kitai and the historical period of Tang Dynasty China allow Kay to comment on the ideologies of not only the fictional Kitan people, but also the historical Tang Chinese. I argue that Kay?s portrayal of Bog? shamanism deconstructs Frazerian notions of myth in which the religious beliefs of a colonized culture are constructed as naive or primitive. The novel does this by using myth to demonstrate the constructedness of colonial ideology, on the one hand, and by reversing the usual dynamic between the colonizer and the colonized, on the other: In byNat laieay , the religious beliefs of the primitive Bog? are legitimized as unequivocally real, while the beliefs of the supposedly-superior Kitan are questioned at every turn. However, I contend that the effectiveness of this critique of colonial ideology is undermined by the way in which Kay portrays the Bog? as a subject people of the Kitan. Although there exists a real history of oppression between the Uighur and the Tang Chinese, in byNat la ieay this history is displaced: at the time of the An Lushan Rebellion, the Uighur Qa?anate was equal in power to the Tang Chinese empire. In byNat laieay , however, the Bog? are portrayed as powerless subjects of the Kitan people. Furthermore, while the novel effectively demonstrates the constructedness of colonial ideology, the Bog? are not merely constructed as exotic and primitive; they ita exotic and primitive, as demonstrated by the 27   ahistorical portrayal of the Bog? engaging in ritual cannibalism. The novel?s portrayal of the Bog? thus participates in the very tradition of marginalization that it attempts to examine.   Ultimately, I argue that while the imaginative visions of Kay?s byNat laieay and Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n are very different, each novel uses myth and history for a similar purpose. byNat laieay uses myth and history to invoke and then interrogate the colonial and patriarchal attitudes of historical Tang China, while Ing raitm Bai.n uses myth and history to invent a fictional, futuristic version of Sudan through which to examine the colonial and patriarchal attitudes of the present. While neither byNat laieay nor Ing raitm Bai.n is completely successful in challenging the colonial and patriarchal ideologies with which both novels attempt to engage, Okorafor?s examination of these concepts is somewhat more compelling. The overt changes that Okorafor makes to the Igbo, Yoruba, and Sudanese myths upon which she draws allow her to more effectively challenge the values encoded in those myths and the cultures from which the myths come. The more subtle changes that Kay makes to Uighur and Tang Chinese myths in byNat laieay , on the other hand, ultimately reinscribe the values that the novel attempts to deconstruct.  28    G2DCHulNFEmlaHFuPCPMRl2MOlaHVPfPMRl,(CG l    This chapter will examine the fictionalized myths of byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n  in relation to the Asian and African myths upon which the fictionalized myths are based. Although the fictionalized myths of each novel retain obvious similarities to the actual myths by which they were inspired, there are also significant differences between the fictionalized myths of byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n and their historical and current equivalents. While both Kay and Okorafor use a similar strategy, altering the myths of actual cultures to better fit their imaginative visions, this strategy has a very different effect in each novel. In byNat laieay , the effect is a reductive one. byNat laieay focuses on the figure of the Bog? shaman and the sexual Kitan fox-woman to the exclusion of other aspects of Uighur religion and Tang Chinese fox narratives, and the novel?s portrayal of these figures responds as much to Western traditions of exoticism as it does to the Uighur and Tang traditions on which these figures are supposedly based. Ing raitm Bai.n , on the other hand, actually challenges the colonial tradition of viewing indigenous identity as static by portraying a futuristic society in which aspects of culture such as myths and religious beliefs have altered over time. The novel then uses these altered myths to interrogate and even revise the oppressions enabled by the traditional myths upon which Ing raitm Bai.n draws.   2.1 Rewritten, Reinscribed: Selection and Emphasis in byNat laieay    Although byNat laie ay is set in the fictional empire of Kitai, this setting is clearly based on the historical empire of Tang China and its neighbouring peoples. In an interview with Sarah Johnson, author of the historical fiction blog YaiNhyT .na Mim., Kay states that 29   while he uses fantastic settings in part to signal that he is not trying to create completely accurate versions of the cultures upon which he draws, he also wants readers ?to be aware of the inspiration and origins of each of these historical fantasies, to ?feel? which periods [he is] taking as [his] basis.? Indeed, Kay?s work is well-known for, and explicitly marketed on the basis of, its accurate historical research. Johnson introduces her interview by commenting on the way in which Kay?s novels are ?deeply grounded in the history of a real culture? and complimenting ?[t]he carefully researched background of byNat laieay .? Similarly, a quote from Ana IimnhyT.gy Mgm. kggP IgtSN on the cover of byNat laieay proclaims that ?[h]istory and fantasy rarely come together as gracefully or readably as they do in the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay,? while a quote from Ana ?iyUg1eat L1y on the back cover of Kay?s 2013 book Yheat gH L.itm professes that ?byNat laieay . . . demonstrates Kay?s ability to convert historical research into impeccable detail and verisimilitude.? Thus, while Kay insists in his interview with Johnson that he wants to ?leave the reader conscious of ?difference,?? his works are often positioned with respect to their historical accuracy, which invites readers to view Kay?s secondary worlds as not merely fictional cultures, but also as windows into particular historical times and places.   Certainly, the Bog? and Kitan peoples of byNat laieay have some basis in historical cultures, a basis which the novel signals partially through its portrayal of the myths of those cultures. The myths of the Uighur, the Turko-Mongolic people upon whom Kay?s Bog? are based, are particularly prominent in byNat laieay .2 For example, the Bog? people?s                                                  2 Although my thesis focuses on the portrayal of the Uighur, the nomadic people that ruled the steppe during the period in which byNat laieay  is set, many scholars write about the Turko-Mongolic peoples as a whole rather than discussing the beliefs of the Uighur specifically, asserting that the Turko-Mongolic peoples share not only a common ancestry but also common religious beliefs (Findley 37-38). Thus, I will sometimes refer to the 30   worship of the ?Lord of the Sky? echoes the Turko-Mongolic peoples? worship of the sky god Tengri (Kay 104; LhSP YgiN 115). Likewise, the Bog? belief that swans carry the souls of the dead reflects the beliefs of central Eurasian tribes (Dunnigan 8894). The references to these myths, however, serve no purpose other than to reinforce the connections between Kay?s fictional Bog? and the historical Uighur people. Of more importance to the narrative are the pack of wolves that follows the Bog? character Meshag, which will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter Three, and the role of shamanism, which is particularly prominent in byNat laieay . Those Bog? who possess magical abilities occupy a position similar to that occupied by historical Uighur shamans: that of religious specialists valued for their supernatural abilities (Mackerras, bhTn1t )oshta  47-51). Indeed, while James Thrower argues that the term ?shaman? is commonly used to refer to religious specialists in a variety of traditional and contemporary societies (59), the capabilities of Kay?s Bog? seem to be drawn from Turko-Mongolic beliefs specifically; the ability of Bog? shamans to communicate with animals and even bind Meshag?s soul to that of a wolf?s suggests the Bog? can not only communicate with the spirit world, but also control it, a feature which Thrower asserts is unique to Turko-Mongolic and Siberian shamanism (Kay 405; Thrower 59). Similarities such as these allow the novel to draw a clear parallel between the beliefs of the fictional Bog? and those of the historical Uighur and signal to readers, as Kay states in the interview cited above, that though the novel?s setting is fictional, it is grounded, at least in part, in historical fact. While Kay argues that he does not intend for his fictional works to be exact representations of the periods about which he writes, the way in which his work is explicitly                                                                                                                                                        beliefs of the Turko-Mongolic peoples in general, although I will discuss the beliefs of the Uighur specifically wherever possible. 31   marketed as historical and Kay?s own attention to historical detail, such as the examples mentioned above, invite readers to expect a level of historical accuracy that is not maintained throughout the novel?s portrayal of all aspects of Uighur or indeed of Tang Chinese myths. Readers who are not already familiar with Central Asian history may not realize that shamanism, for example, is much more prominent among the fictional Bog? than it was among the historical Uighur. The novel ignores personal and communal rituals such as sacrificial offerings made to ancestral spirits in order to protect a family or tribe, which Thrower argues were an important aspect of religious life on the steppes (56), and instead focuses almost exclusively on the shaman. Despite the fact that Turko-Mongolic shamans were ?specialists . . . [called on] only for exceptional religious or medical needs, [rather than] routine religious practice? (Findley 47), the figure of the shaman is extremely prevalent in byNat laieay . There is no aspect of Bog? magic or mythology that is not somehow connected to shamanism; swans, for example, are believed to carry the souls of the dead to the underworld, but they also obey the will of the shaman who pursues Meshag and Li-Mei through the steppes (Kay 326). Even Meshag?s wolf pack, the single most prominent example of the supernatural within the novel, is the result of a shaman?s failed spell. Positioning shamans as central to Bog? religious life in byNat laieay suggests that they played an equally important role in the day-to-day religious life of the Uighur, when in fact Turko-Mongolic shamans existed ?beyond the known [and] . . . beyond the threshold of daily routine? (Stepanov 110). As exceptional figures, shamans were hardly representative of the Uighur community at large. Furthermore, Stepanov asserts they were also regarded with some ambivalence, since their powers could be used to help or harm the community (112). 32    In byNat laieay , however, the Bog? are largely defined by their relationship to shamanism, despite the position of historical Turko-Mongolic shamans as somewhat marginal figures, and the novel uses this relationship to exoticize the Bog?. The Kitan view of Bog? shamanism as ?too strange, too barbaric for words? (Kay 101) invites readers unfamiliar with Turko-Mongolic shamanism to assume that Turko-Mongolic beliefs are likewise strange and barbaric. This association is reinforced by the way in which the novel?s portrayal of Bog? barbarism responds to an existing tradition of exoticism among Western writers. Specifically, it responds to what Rodney Lucas and Robert Barrett call ?barbaric primitivism,? in which a particular ethnic group is classified as primal, chaotic, and disordered in order to construct that group as exotic (290). The novel uses the Bog??s religious beliefs to portray the Bog? as primitive in precisely the fashion that Lucas and Barrett describe, first by framing Bog? beliefs as mere superstition that can be easily dismissed (Kay 106; Lucas and Barrett 296) and later, after the shaman?s attack on Meshag has proven that Bog? beliefs are real, by portraying the Bog? as a savage, cannibalistic mob (Kay 124; Lucas and Barrett 296). Furthermore, Lucas and Barrett argue that the shaman itself is a common symbol of this type of primitivism; they assert that there is a long history in Western writing of regarding shamans as not merely abnormal or mentally ill, but as symptoms of a superstitious and irrational society (309-310). Similarly, the discourse of primitivism in byNat laieay uses the Bog??s relationship to shamanism to frame that entire culture as irrational, barbaric, and primitive, a portrayal that is strengthened by the prevalence of shamans in the novel. Ultimately, the novel reinscribes a particularly Western trend of exoticism onto the fictional Bog?, a portrayal which also reflects upon the historical Uighur on whom the Bog? are based.  33   The portrayal of Tang Chinese beliefs in byNat laiea y serves a similar purpose, and is similarly problematic. Much like the novel?s portrayal of Bog? religion is clearly drawn from historical Uighur beliefs, its presentation of Kitan religion is clearly based on the religious beliefs of Tang China; indeed, many of the details about Kitan religious beliefs serve no narrative purpose other than to reinforce the connection between Kay?s fictional Kitan empire and the historical Tang Chinese empire. For example, Daoism, the official religion during the Tang Dynasty and instrumental to Tang politics (Lewis 214-15), exists only as part of the backdrop against which the story of byNat laieay takes place, and influences the characters and the political institutions portrayed in the novel only to a limited extent. Tai?s comments about the need for balance, for example, invoke the Daoist principle of harmony (Cheng 124), while the way in which the novel connects myth and politics is suggestive of the way in which the Tang Chinese mobilized myth in order to support their political ideologies, particularly the notion that the Tang Dynasty ruled both China and its conquered provinces by divine right (Lewis 208; Beckwith, LhSP YgiN 137). In vnhyiOm vgmogsgSh.iy )oshta , Mark Lewis asserts that Xuanzong (portrayed by the character Taizu in byNat laieay ), who reigned from 712-756 and was the Tang emperor in the years leading up to the An Lushan Rebellion, ?fully mobilized the [Daoist] religion in support of the dynasty,? creating statues that honoured the ancestry shared by Tang emperors and the Daoist masters, dedicating the temples in Tang China?s capital cities to Daoism, and having Daoist priests perform important rituals on the empire?s behalf (209). Tang emperors who claimed heavenly titles or the ?mandate of Heaven? (Lewis 94) were thus mobilizing a political ideology, but one explicitly underwritten and supported by the empire?s religious beliefs and practices. Likewise, the Kitan emperors of byNat laieay are said to be ruling 34   with the mandate of Heaven, and certain details, such as the way in which the physical layout of the imperial palace is meant to ward off supernatural foes (Kay 474), suggest that the Kitan people also mobilize religious beliefs in explicit support of the notion of divine right to rule. Such parallels draw a clear connection between the fictional Kitan people and the historical Tang Chinese people upon whom the Kitan are based. However, these parallels also suggest a level of historical accuracy that is not maintained in the novel?s portrayal of more narratively significant myths.   While the fox-woman in byNat laieay is clearly based on Tang myths about fox-spirits, the novel excludes a number of important features of historical fox narratives, creating a very narrow vision of what was actually a broad and varied tradition. The fox-spirit, and specifically the fox-woman, is portrayed in byNat laieay as a seductress with supernatural powers. There is certainly an historical basis for this portrayal, as Rania Huntington argues in her article ?Foxes and Sex in Late Imperial Chinese Narrative.? Fox spirits were believed to be skilled at seduction and deception, and one could either be possessed by a disembodied fox spirit or be seduced by a fox that had taken on a human shape (Huntington 81). Huntington observes that the two different fox-spirit narratives, possession and seduction, became more clearly gendered as they evolved, with possession becoming a narrative with primarily female protagonists (and victims) while seduction became a narrative with primarily male protagonists. Interestingly, however, Huntington asserts that this gendered division evolved iH.at the Tang, and that during the Tang Dynasty itself, it was believed that both fox-spirits and their victims could be either male or female (Huntington 81).   35   The portrayal of the fox-spirit in byNat laieay , however, is highly gendered, and serves to reaffirm the centrality of the male subject. First of all, the only fox-spirit to appear in the novel is female, and the novel?s brief discussion of the legends surrounding shape-shifting foxes likewise focuses gySf on women (Kay 211). While Huntington notes that female narratives of possession were comparatively rare (82), there is no indication in byNat laieay that legends about male fox-spirits actually exist. Such a portrayal implies that all or most of those who are seduced by fox-spirits are male,3 and suggests that the hypersexuality of the ?remarkably seductive? Xu Liang (Kay 211), who seems to be a victim of possession by a fox-spirit in byNat laieay , is a solely female trait.4 Furthermore, while the fox-woman subplot in byNat laieay involves both possession iyN seduction, it takes its structure from the narrative of seduction. While narratives of possessed women are structured around the elements of ?onset of illness, diagnosis, and exorcism,? early narratives of seduction, according to Huntington, follow ?the basic structure of first encounter, consummation, and exposure, quickly followed by expulsion of the beast? (82). When Liang attempts to seduce Tai in byNat laieay , the characters quickly decide that Liang is not a fox-spirit herself, but has rather been possessed by one, if of course there is a fox-spirit at all (Kay 211). However, the fox-woman encounter in byNat laieay focuses on the subjective experience of the male character, and the structure of this encounter closely resembles the male seduction narrative                                                  3 Huntington observes that although some fox narratives do depict homosexuality, they are almost always about male homosexuality. Huntington cites ?Feng Sanniang? as the single example of a fox narrative in which both of the primary characters are women (122).  4 While the narrative makes clear that Liang is not herself a fox-spirit, it is ambiguous about whether or not Liang has been possessed by one, and indeed whether or not such spirits actually exist. That a fox-spirit is interested in Tai is never conclusively proven, and Tai himself states that he does not believe in fox-spirits (Kay 211), although his certainty is easily shaken. The significance of this ambiguity will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter Three. It is important to note, however, that the m.t1U.1ta of the fox-spirit myth remains important despite this equivocation. That Liang?s seduction of Tai is an attempt to entrap him is not in question; the only question is whether it is done for political gain or at the behest of a supernatural creature.  36   that Huntington describes. Liang?s appearance in Tai?s bedroom constitutes the first encounter, and while there is no consummation in this case, there is exposure: Tai asks Liang if there is a Nih0h within her (210). This effectively ends Liang?s attempted seduction, and the poet Sima Zian suggests that any spirit that may have been present fled after Liang?s attempt at seduction was interrupted, implying, as Huntington observes, the expulsion of the beast (Kay 212). Given that Tai is a male protagonist, it makes sense for the novel to adopt the structure of a seduction narrative, in which the male experience is typically central, for the fox-woman subplot. However, the novel also appropriates the trope of possession without acknowledging the narrative tradition from which that trope comes, a tradition comprised of stories with typically female protagonists. This erases the importance of the female experience in fox narratives, while at the same time creating an erroneously narrow depiction of what is actually a broad and varied narrative tradition. Indeed, there was much more variation among Tang fox narratives than Kay?s portrayal suggests. As discussed above, even narratives that feature seductive foxes may adopt one of multiple story structures, which during the Tang were not related to the characters? genders as they are in byNat laieay . Furthermore, while Huntington?s analysis indicates that sex was an important part of the tradition of fox narratives, it is also evident that sex was far from the gySf aspect of these narratives. Huntington notes that even seductive female foxes would sometimes assume ?the nonsexual responsibilities of concubines or even wives,? and that ?foxes also play important roles as popular deities, aspiring immortals, household poltergeists, romantic heroines, and scholarly friends, to name a few? (82, 79). Female foxes therefore played much more varied roles, even in popular narratives, than Kay?s portrayal would indicate, and popular narratives were themselves part 37   of a much larger tradition.5 Xiaofei Kang comments in Ana v1S. gH .na rg(E MgDatu FayNat iyN Mgs1Sit YaShThgy hy Ci.a 3osathiS iyN ,gNaty vnhyi that ?fox spirits as a religious phenomenon [have] lasted for more than a thousand years? (3). Lewis likewise argues that fox-spirits formed the basis for religious cults among the commoners, who would make offerings to fox-spirits in order to gain their favour (229-30).  In byNat laieay , on the other hand, there is no indication that fox myths have a religious component, and the varied roles of the fox-woman in traditional narratives are eschewed in favour of a fox-woman who is an entirely sexual being. While there is certainly an historical basis for the portrayal of fox-women in byNat laieay as supernatural seductresses, historically the seductive fox-spirit, and in particular the seductive fox-woman, has been part of a much larger narrative and religious phenomenon. However, the way in which byNat laieay is (positioned as) grounded in historical Tang myths allows readers unfamiliar with the broader history of fox narratives to assume that Tang fox myths were just as singularly sexual as the fox myths portrayed in b yNat laieay , especially since this portrayal echoes the exoticism and Orientalism with which Western writers have traditionally engaged so-called Oriental cultures. In Gthay.iShmo, Edward Said argues that Orientalist narratives tend to draw a clear association between the ?Orient? and ?freedom of licentious sex? (190), and it is precisely this license that fox-women in byNat laieay represent. Indeed, fox women are representatives of the type of female character that Said describes as ?creatures of a male power fantasy,? common to Orientalist narratives: ?[t]hey express unlimited sensuality, they are more or less stupid, and above all they are willing?                                                  5 In a post for John Scalzi?s ?The Big Idea? blog series, Kay cites Tang poetry as being an important influence on the novel. This may partially explain the over-emphasis on seduced men and seductive fox-women, as Huntington indicates that the tradition of the fox-woman as dangerous seductress is particularly common in poetry (82-83). 38   (207). While byNat laieay does not indicate that fox-women are particularly stupid, the novel is so focused on their ?unlimited sensuality? that their intelligence hardly matters. The defining traits of fox-women in byNat laieay are their beauty and their appetites (Kay 211). By basing Kitan fox-woman legends on historical Tang Chinese fox narratives, the novel draws a clear parallel between its fictional tradition and the historical one; however, the novel?s erasure of all fox-spirit narratives in which the foxes are not seductive, sexual, and female creates a version of fox-spirit narratives that responds not to the historical tradition of Tang Chinese fox myths, but to a Western tradition of exoticism and Orientalism. Fox-women in byNat laieay are further exoticized by the way their sexuality is presented as not only excessive, but dangerous. Said observes that ?[i]n most cases, the Orient seemed to have offended sexual propriety; everything about the Orient . . . exuded dangerous sex, [and] threatened hygiene and domestic seemliness with an excess of ?freedom of intercourse?? (167). Said describes a number of examples of Orientalist scholarship in which descriptions of excessive sex and licentiousness are used as a method of portraying the ?Orient? as dangerous as well as exotic. In many of the examples that Said discusses, excessive sexual license represents some existential threat to Western rationality; in byNat laieay , the sexual availability of fox-women creates concrete threats to personal and political well-being, with potentially devastating consequences. Fox-women are so sexually voracious that they pose a physical threat to any man who succumbs to their charms, since ?men could be destroyed? by their appetites (Kay 211), but they can also be politically dangerous in the correct circumstances. It would certainly be politically dangerous, for example, for Tai to have sex with Liang, the unmarried daughter of a prominent military general; in fact, byNat laieay suggests that this would be dangerous not only to Tai 39   personally, but to the empire at large. While it is possible that Liang attempts to seduce Tai in order to marry him and claim his connection to royalty (Tai?s sister Li-Mei has recently been elevated to royalty in an imperial ceremony and given in marriage to the Bog? ruler?s heir), Tai suspects that Liang?s attempted seduction is an effort to place him in a compromising position and thus force him to surrender the Sardian horses (Kay 208), which become crucial to the defense of the empire during the rebellion. In other words, byNat laieay literalizes Said?s notion of dangerous sex, suggesting that the already-dangerous political intrigue that Tai must navigate is made even more dangerous by the presence and sexual availability of fox-women.  For readers already familiar with Chinese history, the exoticization inherent in Kay?s portrayal of the fox-woman myth is further emphasized by Kay?s choice to name his fox-spirits Nih0h. This term invokes the historical and literary figure Daji, a favoured imperial concubine whose influence is believed to have caused the downfall of the last Shang emperor as well as the Shang Dynasty (1600-1027 B.C.) itself (Huntington 102). According to Huntington, Daji is one of ?a series of specific fatal imperial concubines [who] are identified as actually being vixens? (101). Daji is the focus of a number of popular narratives in which, possessed (and ultimately completely consumed by) a fox-spirit, she plays a central role in the fall of the Shang dynasty (102). Unlike what Huntington describes as ?even the most voracious vixens,? Daji is portrayed as bloodthirsty as well as sexually aggressive (103). Huntington asserts that ?[t]he combination of fox and fatal concubine becomes a clearer embodiment of evil than a fox ever could be on her own? (103). Daji, a ?fatal? imperial concubine whose influence is said to have caused the downfall of the emperor whom she served, is associated with physical, psychological, and political danger that epitomizes Said?s 40   notion of dangerous sex. This is an association that byNat laieay wholeheartedly embraces. That Nih0h is the name given not to a particular fox-woman character, but to fox-women in general, suggests that all fox-women within the secondary world of byNat laieay are as dangerous as Daji, a figure whose capability for violence, according to Huntington, was almost cartoonishly exaggerated in popular Tang sources. Indeed, the novel emphasizes the danger that fox-women pose not just to a single man?s body or consciousness, but to the empire itself. Liang?s attempt to seduce Tai, discussed above, is a threat to the empire as well as to Tai?s personal wellbeing. Similarly, Wen Jian, the favoured concubine of emperor Taizu and a figure who, like her historical counterpart Yang Guifei, ultimately shouldered some of the blame for the An Lushan Rebellion and the subsequent collapse of the Tang Dynasty (Lewis 40), is described as ?more dangerous than a fox-woman? (Kay 308). Given the way that the novel emphasizes not just dangerous sex, but sex that has the power to topple entire empires, the use of the term Nih0h for fox-spirits can hardly be coincidental. Associating fox women so clearly with Daji herself suggests that all fox-women are not only sexual, but destructive, a suggestion that the novel reinforces by portraying iSS fox-women as both of these things (and gySf these things). Ultimately, Kay?s portrayal of fox-woman myths in byNat laieay reduces a complex tradition to a single story of violence and dangerous sexuality, one that is nevertheless associated with the historical tradition upon which it is based. Much as Kay?s portrayal of Bog? religion exoticizes the Uighur by focusing on primitivist discourse and the figure of the shaman, his portrayal of fox myths exoticizes the existing Tang tradition by placing an ahistorical emphasis on danger and sexuality. The parallels that the novel draws between the fictional Bog? and Kitan peoples and the historical 41   Uighur and Tang peoples allows readers who are unfamiliar with these histories to assume that Kay?s portrayals are based in fact. However, these portrayals contain historical inaccuracies that reflect negatively on the cultures in question; the novel?s portrayal of the Bog? as primitive and savage suggests that the Uighur were likewise primitive and savage, while its portrayal of Kitan fox-women as dangerously and excessively sexual reduces a complex Tang tradition to an exotic sexual preoccupation. Ultimately, the novel?s portrayal of each culture?s myths is drawn as much from Western traditions of writing about those cultures as from the cultures themselves.  2.2 Revising Oppression: Dynamic Myth in Ing raitm Bai.n        While the changes that Kay makes to the Uighur and Tang myths portrayed in byNat laieay ground the novel?s portrayal of those myths in Western exoticism, the changes that Okorafor makes, in Ing raitm Bai.n , to myths drawn from various African countries and ethnic groups have an opposing effect: they allow the novel to challenge Western colonialist notions. Unlike the way in which the altered myths in byNat laieay re-create, at least to an extent, an historical social and cultural milieu, the altered myths in Ing raitm Bai.n create a new and changed culture for the inhabitants of the Seven Rivers Kingdom, a far-future version of Sudan (Okorafor 381). Adapting current myths to reflect this fictional setting does more than simply reinforce the novel?s imaginative vision, however; it also challenges the notion that indigenous identity must remain fixed in order to be considered indigenous. As discussed in the first chapter, my thesis defines myth in part as the .tiNh.hgyiS narratives of a culture. However, the concept of tradition becomes problematic within the context of colonial discourse, which constructs tradition as a key part of indigenous identity and uses a 42   lack of ?authenticity,? or adherence to tradition, as a means of excluding a person or group from indigenous identity once that person or group becomes too threatening. Linda Tuhiwai Smith states in BaUgSgyhWhyT ,a.ngNgSgTham t t ?[a]t the heart of such a [Western] view about authenticity is a belief that indigenous cultures cannot change, cannot recreate themselves and still claim to be indigenous. Nor can they be complicated, internally diverse, or contradictory. Only the West has that privilege? (74). By adapting current myths to suit the fictional setting, rather than simply transcribing current myths into a novel that supposedly takes place many years in the future, Okorafor asserts that the indigenous cultures from which those myths come do indeed transform over time.  Okorafor adapts elements of African myths in order to create a cosmology that is, on the surface, typical of that of many fantasy novels: a systematic explanation of magic that is at least loosely related to the religion of the secondary world. For example, the Great Mystic Points, which are central to the mechanics of magic in Ing raitm Bai.n , are clearly adapted from Igbo myths. Sorcerers in Ing raitm Bai.n  use magic by manipulating the four Points, which consist of Uwa, representing the body and the physical world; Mmuo, representing the spirit world;  Alusi, representing ?forces, deities, spirits, [and] non-Uwa beings;? and Okike, representing the Creator (Okorafor 144-45). Although these points do not correspond exactly with Igbo mythology, there are some striking similarities. Chinwe Achebe explains that Igbo cosmology consists of ?Elu-Igwe (Sky or Heavens) ruled by Chiukwu (Great God); Ala mmadu (the human or physical world); and Ala mmuo (world of spirits or the dead)? (Achebe cited in Ilechukwu 240). Okorafor?s Uwa (physical) and Okike (Creator/deity) points are conceptually similar to the notions of Ala mmadu and Chiukwu that Achebe 43   describes,6 although their names have been altered; Uwa, for example, echoes the term 1Di ooiN1 , an alternate term for iSi ooiN1 (Cole and Aniakor 14). While the novel does not explain that these concepts are similar to current concepts in Igbo mythology, it does explain how they function within the context of the secondary world, so even readers who are not familiar with Igbo myths are able to understand how magic functions in the novel.  For readers who are familiar with the sources upon which Okorafor draws, however, the portrayal of myth creates an additional layer of meaning by presenting fictional myths that, while they are clearly adapted from Igbo mythology, do not correspond exactly to current Igbo beliefs. For example, while the Great Mystic Points of Alusi and Mmuo have Igbo names, they are not conceptually identical to traditional Igbo beliefs of the same name. In 3T2g Qt.mE vgoo1yh.f iyN vgmogm, Herbert Cole and Chike Aniakor assert that ?alusi? is the collective term for various ?tutelary deities? while mmuo are ?ghost[s] or spirit[s],? including ancestors (16), and the term ?ala-? or ?animmuo? refers to the land that these spirits inhabit (Cole and Aniakor 16; Ilechukwu 240). In Ing raitm Bai.n , however, the Alusi Point encompasses deities iyN spirits, while the Mmuo Point represents the land that these deities and spirits occupy. While this is a seemingly small change, it suggests a larger cultural shift; specifically, it indicates the absence, or at least the relative unimportance, of ancestors in Ing raitm Bai.n . In Igbo culture, ancestors and Alusi are treated as separate forces and worshipped accordingly (Cole and Aniakor 16), while in Ing raitm Bai.n , deities, ghosts, and other such forces are all subsumed under the category of magical or Alusi beings. The novel?s portrayal of myths that are clearly related to, but at the same time                                                  6 Although it is not obvious from Ilechukwu?s description of Igbo cosmology, Chiukwu (also spelled Chi-ukwu or Chukwu) is the supreme god of the Igbo pantheon, the ?god of creation and destiny? (Jell-Bahlsen, Ii.at FgNNamm 69). This strengthens the link between Okorafor?s fictional Okike point and Chi-ukwu of the Igbo, since both are regarded as supreme deities and creative forces. 44   different from, current Igbo beliefs serves two distinct, but related, purposes. First, this portrayal reinforces the novel?s futuristic setting; readers who are aware of the differences between Okorafor?s fictionalized myths and current Igbo beliefs are reminded that Ing raitm Bai.n does not portray Igbo culture as it is now, but in an imagined future. Secondly, by portraying a future in which mythical beliefs niea changed, the novel challenges the stereotype that aspects of indigenous culture, such as religious beliefs, cannot or do not change with time. The novel?s project to incorporate and adapt indigenous African myths extends beyond just Igbo culture. Indeed, although the novel draws more on Igbo myths than on other African myths, the myths of the fictional Seven Rivers Kingdom are borrowed from a number of different (primarily West African) countries and ethnic groups. For example, the novel refers to a number of existing African scripts and alphabets. Ting, the apprentice sorcerer of the Red People, comments that Onyesonwu would be able to read Vai, Bassa, Menda, and Nsibidi if she had finished her apprenticeship (Okorafor 261). All four of these names refer to actual African scripts and alphabets. Nsibidi, discussed in more detail below, is the only one of these scripts that is associated with the Igbo; the Vai syllabary is the name of an actual script developed in Liberia, while the names ?Menda? and ?Bassa? invite comparison to the Mende and Bassa peoples, each of whom also developed prominent scripts or alphabets (Tuchscherer 45-46). Although this is the novel?s only mention of the Vai, Mende, and Bassa scripts, Ting?s comment indicates that they are important to the fictional inhabitants of the Seven Rivers Kingdom. Other myths from non-Igbo cultures play a more prominent role in the novel, such as the Psgyf1yTg, a dragon-like creature which assists Onyesonwu near the end of the novel and which shares a name with the Psgyf1yTg that 45   appears in the masquerades of the Senufo people, an ethnic group located in the Niger-Congo area (McNaughton 43). More prominent yet are some of the myths drawn from Yoruba culture, including the phenomenon of i2hP1 (known as gT2iy0a among the Igbo), and Yoruba beliefs about twins. Each of these myths serves a specific narrative and thematic purpose, which I will discuss in greater detail below. However, it is important to note that mixing different cultural influences is itself a significant gesture. Much like the deliberately altered version of Igbo cosmology described above, the mixture of different cultural influences here suggests that within the context of Ing raitm Bai.n ?s secondary world, these African cultures have changed with time, once again reinforcing both the futuristic setting and the implied assertion that indigenous cultures are capable of change.  The mixture of Yoruba and Igbo cultures makes a particularly important statement given the unhappy history between these two groups. Max Siollun, in GhSu MgSh.hUmu iyN ,hSh.itf vg1s v1S.1ta dpcww-pcxw:, describes the conflicts between three major groups, the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba, and the Igbo, in the events leading up to and during the Nigerian civil war. Although Siollun argues that most of the violence during the original coups was perpetrated by the Hausa-Fulani against the Igbo, he also notes that anti-Igbo sentiments were present among the Yoruba and that some Yoruba officers participated in the massacres of Igbo people (Siollun 91, 131).  Siollun likewise observes that this violence increased Igbo anger towards the Yoruba, as ?Igbo survivors of the [massacres] felt that some of their Yoruba neighbors had not done enough to protect them? (138). To include both Yoruba and Igbo influences within a single fictional culture is thus quite remarkable, and in fact caused some controversy upon the book?s release. In a blog post entitled ?The Lesson from my 1st Ing raitm Bai.n signing,? Okorafor describes a book signing during which she was 46   criticized by African academics for mixing cultural influences. Although Okorafor does not discuss her reasoning for doing so in specific terms, she hints at a political purpose, writing, ?[t]he envelope needs to be shoved. The mold needs to be crushed. There are many ways to write outside the box. . . . I knew the poison I was dabbling in, the spirits and ghosts I was communing with, the history and cultures I was poking.? Indeed, the novel does considerably more than ?dabble? in this history, since the violence associated with ethnic conflict is central to the plot of Ing raitm Bai.n . The ethnic conflict at the heart of the novel cannot be easily aligned with the anti-Igbo violence that occurred during the Nigerian civil war,7 but Okorafor, in another blog post entitled ?The Writing of Ing raitm Bai.n ,? describes a variety of things that influenced her writing process, including ?hear[ing] stories about the Biafran War and arguments about how what happened during this civil war was indeed the genocide of the Igbo people.? In light of such history, Okorafor?s treatment of myth becomes even more significant. Combining the myths of multiple cultures into a single cosmology suggests that indigenous cultures are neither static nor isolated, but capable of borrowing and adopting from one another as well as adapting their own myths over time. In conjunction with the end of the novel and its ultimate resolution of ethnic conflict in the Seven Rivers Kingdom, this combined cosmology also suggests the possibility of peace, since disparate and even historically conflicting cultures are brought together in the fictional future of Ing raitm Bai.n . In most of the examples cited above, the myths upon which Okorafor draws have been altered mostly by virtue of their placement within the cosmology of a single culture.                                                  7 The ethnic violence portrayed in Ing raitm Bai.n is also, at least in part, a response to the ethnic violence that occurred in Sudan during the Darfur conflict, particularly the way in which rape was used as a weapon of war. This point is discussed in more detail in Chapter Three below. 47   However, Okorafor also combines different cultural influences to create completely new myths. The magical ?eye? of the antagonist Daib, for example, combines the Sudanese notion of the evil eye with Igbo colour symbolism. While she undergoes ritual circumcision during the Eleventh Year Rite, Onyesonwu inadvertently travels to the spirit world (Mmuo) and spots a malevolent magic, which is ?[r]ed and oval-shaped with a white oval in the center, like the giant eye of a jinni. It sizzled and hissed, the white part expanding, moving closer. . . . The red was bitter venom. The white was like the sun?s worst heat? (Okorafor 41). Onyesonwu later learns that this eye is a manifestation of Daib?s magic, one that allows him to watch her and even attack her through the spirit world. The similarities between the Sudanese evil eye and Daib?s malevolent eye are very suggestive. The Sudanese evil eye is closely linked to sorcery, and Daib is a powerful sorcerer; the evil eye is usually attributed to outsiders or strangers, and Daib is Nuru whereas most of the prominent characters in Ing raitm Bai.n are Okeke; and the evil eye is closely associated with ?persons expressing undue interest in the private concerns of another? (Chapin-Metz 109), and Daib regularly uses the magical eye to monitor Onyesonwu?s actions.8 The red-and-white of Daib?s magical eye, however, is suggestive of Igbo colour symbolism. In Ana Ii.at FgNNamm hy 3T2g vgmogSgTfE GT21hNa gH GT1.i CiPa, S bine Jell-Bahlsen explains that red and white are common colours in Igbo rituals. Each individual colour holds ritual significance, but the particular combination of red and white is also meaningful, as ?[t]he color dualism symbolizes the structured opposition of reciprocal and balanced gender relations, as                                                  8  This is one of the few references to Sudanese myths contained in Ing raitm Bai.n , despite the fact that the Seven Rivers Kingdom is set in a future version of Sudan. While it is possible that Onyesonwu?s role as a sorcerer is meant to acknowledge the Sudanese belief in sorcery, it is equally possible that Onyesonwu?s role is simply another iteration of the sorcerer as a common fantasy trope.  Evidently, beliefs regarding sorcery are not limited to a particular Sudanese ethnic group or groups (Chapin-Metz 109). 48   reaffirmed and displayed in ritual? (Jell-Bahlsen 106). This colour symbolism, according to Jell-Bahlsen, represents both the contrast between male and female, and the need to achieve balance between those two roles (222, 223). Invoking this contrast is certainly appropriate in Ing raitm Bai.n , where the relationship between the male and female genders is primarily oppositional. Much of the novel?s conflict, especially in the early chapters, centers on the unequal relationship between men and women, and in particular the way in which women are constantly refused access to sorcery. The relationship between Onyesonwu and Daib is also oppositional. Onyesonwu opposes Daib personally because Daib raped Onyesonwu?s mother, and politically because of the violence with which Daib treats Okekes and the sexual violence with which he treats Okeke women in particular. Daib?s hatred of Onyesonwu, in turn, is in large part due to Onyesonwu?s biological sex: the characters state on numerous occasions that Onyesonwu was ?supposed to? be both male and an ally of Daib?s (Okorafor 110, 120, 365, 372). The presence of the malevolent red-and-white eye allows Onyesonwu and Daib to come into conflict even before Onyesonwu decides to leave her village in order to face Daib directly. Like the examples cited above, the eye of Daib represents the ability of traditional beliefs to transform over time. Furthermore, drawing on Sudanese beliefs about the evil eye acknowledges the importance of the novel?s geographical setting of Sudan, while drawing on the traditional associations of the red and white colour scheme emphasizes one of the novel?s major themes.  While it may seem contradictory to assert that the fictionalized myths of Ing raitm Bai.n are in any way traditional, there is an emerging critical understanding of myth as both traditional and dynamic. In ?Myths and Boundaries: Reflections on Thompson?s ?Myth and Folktales,?? William Hansen comments that many of the scholars who contributed to ,f.nE Q 49   Lfosgmh1o, the volume to which the essays in ,f.nE Q VaD Lfosgmh1o  respond, share an interest in the origins of myth. Hansen criticizes this focus on origins, however, saying ?[n]ever mind what the narrative might have meant to later generations who knew nothing of its origin, or, for that matter, what it might mean to us? (22). For Hansen, the original meaning of a myth is less interesting than the current meaning of the same narrative. Barre Toelken, in ?Native American Reinterpretations of Myth,? argues that the ability to incorporate cultural changes is important in order for myth to reflect a culture?s current reality. Toelken describes the tendency of some Navajo storytellers to include references to modern elements of Navajo life, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, within traditional narratives, and argues that ?the Navajos use myth not to ?explain? where they came from, but, rather, to narratively claim the world into which they moved, and to adjust that claim as the world moved in on them? (Toelken 92). Ultimately, while myths can be understood as traditional narratives, neither myths nor the traditions that shape them are completely fixed. Instead, traditions evolve over time, and the myths associated with those traditions must likewise evolve in order to reflect the worldview of the culture that creates them.  By altering the myths upon which it draws, the novel does more than simply dramatize the phenomena of changing worldviews. Although the fictionalized myths of Ing raitm Bai.n  bear some important resemblances to the actual myths upon which they are based, the way those myths are altered allows Okorafor to comment on, and, within the context of the secondary world, even repudiate the oppressions that the traditional narratives might otherwise enable. In ?The Dawn of a New Lilith,? Osherow argues that C. L. Moore and Octavia Butler engage in ?revisionary myth-making,? or the revision of mythical 50   characters or narratives in order to explore oppression.9 Osherow?s observations about Butler, one of the best known African-American writers of fantasy and science fiction, are particularly pertinent, as they suggest that this sort of ?revisionary myth-making? is already an established technique in the area of African-American science fiction and fantasy particularly. Certainly Okorafor, like Butler, revises mythical narratives in order to explore experiences of oppression. However, Osherow?s analysis focuses on the fictional versions of Lilith that Moore and Butler create, and suggests that the Biblical myth of Lilith is merely a reference, a backdrop against which Moore and Butler create their new, empowered (and in Butler?s case, estranged) Liliths. The revision of mythical narratives that occurs in Ing raitm Bai.n , on the other hand, is even more complex. Okorafor?s particular method of using myth is perhaps best described by what Michael Kightley, in ?Heorot or Meduseld? Tolkien?s Use of Beowulf in ?The King of the Golden Hall,?? calls ?calquing,? which is the use of particular narratives as intertexts in order to achieve a specific effect. Calquing affects not only the reader?s perception of the new narrative, but also his or her perception of the traditional narrative upon which the new narrative draws; that traditional narrative is not merely referenced, but revised. While the reader?s recognition of the traditional narrative enhances the new narrative in subtle ways related to devices such as plot, characterization, and theme, calquing is not merely an allusion to a traditional narrative, but rather an active revision of that narrative.                                                   9 Although Osherow?s article focuses mostly on science fiction writing, her observations are relevant to fantasy as well as science fiction, as the two genres share many of the same tropes, including a fascination with far-off worlds, fantastic or alien creatures, and themes of colonialism and imperialism. Many authors, including Moore, Butler, and Okorafor, write both fantasy and science fiction, and novels such as Ing raitm Bai.n could be characterized as belonging to either genre.  51   Okorafor?s portrayal of the Nsibidi script is one example of calquing. Much like the examples cited in previous paragraphs, the novel invokes some of the traditions associated with Nsibidi among the Igbo and other ethnic groups, such as the Ejagham, Ibibo, and Efik peoples, who use the script (Kreamer et al., ?Inscribing Meaning? 83). Specifically, Okorafor invokes the sense of secrecy and mystery that surrounds Nsibidi, as well as the particular methods through which that air of secrecy is maintained. Knowledge of Nsibidi falls primarily within the purview of men?s secret societies both in current West African cultures and in the secondary world of Ing raitm Bai.n : Okorafor?s community of sorcerers essentially functions as a men?s secret society, albeit one in which the male-only aspect is beginning to break down, a point which I will discuss in greater detail in Chapter Three. Importantly, however, the novel?s single most knowledgeable character regarding Nsibidi and magical scripts in general is a woman, Ting. When Onyesonwu is magically poisoned by Daib, it is Ting who identifies the Nsibidi symbol used to create the poison.10 Indeed, the novel indicates that Ting is the gySf character with sufficient knowledge of Nsibidi to do so. Ssaiku, a master sorcerer of the Red People and the man to whom Ting is apprenticed, does not recognize the symbol that Daib uses to poison Onyesonwu. When asked what the symbol is, Ssaiku answers, ?Ting may know . . . At two years old the girl could read Okeke, Vah, and Sipo. She?ll be able to read this? (Okorafor 297). Although both Ssaiku?s gender and his position as a master sorcerer grant him a great deal of authority over Ting, he defers without question to her superior knowledge of the Nsibidi script, and her superior ability to create the                                                  10 Amanda Carlson, in ?Vmh2hNh: Old and New Scripts,? notes that ?[a]mong the Bakor-Ejagham . . . ymh2hNh can be used to command a spiritual manhunt, in which no physical action is directed at the target, but he or she is hunted down and killed in the spiritual realm. This leads to the person?s eventual death in the physical world? (148). Daib?s poisoning of Onyesonwu resembles this kind of spiritual manhunt, since the poisoning occurs when both Onyesonwu and Daib are in the spiritual world, but would have lead to Onyesonwu?s death in the physical world.  52   tattoos that counteract the poison. By invoking the traditional association between Nsibidi and male knowledge, and then creating a female character whose knowledge of Nsibidi exceeds that of the male characters, Okorafor invites readers to re-examine the traditional belief that Nsibidi should be male-only knowledge. In its portrayal of twins, the novel uses a more overtly revisionist approach to achieve this calquing effect, outright replacing the traditional Igbo belief that has historically enabled the persecution of twins. In a post on Penguin.com entitled ?Proprioception,? Okorafor writes that among the Igbo, ?twins and other multiple births were seen as monstrous; immediately afterwards, the ?extra? babies were thrown into the bush.? Indeed, the mothers of twins were often persecuted as well (Jell-Bahlsen, Ii.at FgNNamm 134). In Ing raitm Bai.n , however, twins are regarded as extraordinary rather than unnatural. According to Onyesonwu, ?[t]wins are a strong sign of Ani?s love. Twins are often paid to live in a town, too. If anything goes wrong, it is always said that if the twins weren?t there things would be worse? (Okorafor 86). Indeed, Onyesonwu and her companions later encounter twins who are being paid to live in the town of Banza, where they are regarded as the town?s good-luck charm. Emily McIlroy asserts that this view of twins as exceptional and extraordinary is common to a number of African ethnic groups, including both the Yoruba and the Sudanese Neur, the latter of whom regard the twin bond as ?both sacred and indestructible? (3). Okorafor herself discusses Yoruba beliefs about twins in ?Proprioception,? where she notes that ?the Yorubas saw twins as extraordinary people, giving them special names and believing them to have important destinies,? which suggests that the portrayal of 53   ?exceptional? twins in Ing raitm Bai.n is drawn from Yoruba beliefs.11 While the novel is still somewhat critical of the way the lives of ?extraordinary? twins? are circumscribed by tradition (Okorafor 216), the portrayal of twins in Ing raitm Bai.n  replaces a history of violence and persecution with one of veneration. For readers who are not familiar with Yoruba and Igbo beliefs, the historical persecution of twins and the mothers of twins within Igbo culture is effectively erased. For readers who are familiar with Yoruba and Igbo traditions, however, the novel implies a comparison between the two traditions by linking Yoruba beliefs about twins to the favour of an Igbo goddess, Ani. At the same time as the novel normalizes acceptance of rather than persecution of twins, it also invites readers to question the persecution of twins enabled by traditional Igbo beliefs by comparing those beliefs to the less oppressive Yoruba views of same. Through calquing, Okorafor encourages readers to re-examine the oppressions enabled by traditional beliefs surrounding the Nsibidi script and twins, while also creating a secondary world in which those oppressions no longer exist. At the same time, Okorafor?s portrayal of Nsibidi and twin beliefs serves the same purpose as the other examples cited above: it reinforces the novel?s setting as a fictional, future Africa, and also challenges the colonial notion that indigenous cultures and traditions are static.                                                    11 Given that the novel is set in Sudan, it could be argued that the novel?s portrayal of twins is meant to reflect Neur beliefs instead of or in addition to Yoruba beliefs. However, a distinguishing feature of Neur beliefs is that twins are also birds (5). Since twins are not associated with birds in Ing raitm Bai.n , it is also possible that the similarity is merely coincidence. 54   2.3 Reinscription, Re-imagination, and the Politics of Myth  Although myth is a crucial tool through which both Ing raitm Bai.n and byNat laie ay establish their imaginative visions, the use of myth in each novel creates opposing effects. African myths in Ing raitm Bai.n establish an imagined culture and an imagined future, while Tang Chinese and Uighur myths in byNat laieay are used to re-imagine the social and cultural milieu of a specific time and place in the past. While the myths in both novels are clearly based upon the myths of past or present cultures, both novels also alter the myths upon which they draw to a certain extent, and these changes are indicative of each novel?s politics. The Bog? and Kitan myths of byNat laieay are based directly on the myths of the historical Uighur and Tang Chinese peoples, but are presented in a reductive way that exoticizes both Uighur and Tang cultures. The African myths of Ing raitm Bai.n , on the other hand, are removed from the context of the (primarily) Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups to which they belong and placed within the context of a fictional and futuristic culture. This allows the novel to take a revisionist approach, re-imagining the future in order to challenge colonial notions of difference and indigeneity, and to engage with issues of oppression enabled by the traditional myths upon which the novel draws. However, Okorafor?s approach of blending multiple cultures also runs the risk of homogenizing those cultures by eliding the differences, as well as the very real history of oppression, that exist between those cultures. Furthermore, the novel?s revisionist approach to traditional Igbo and Yoruba myths relies on the reader?s knowledge of those myths. While Okorafor?s altered myths indicate a thoughtful engagement with both the myths themselves and the politics thereof, for readers who are unfamiliar with traditional Igbo and Yoruba myths, the altered myths function as simply another variation on a standard fantasy cosmology.55    G2DCHulNGuHHml,(CGl2MOlBPfCEu(l2fl2l,HCGEOlESl.E1PCP021lnMR2RHQHMC  The previous chapter compared the fictional myths of byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n with the real myths on which the fictional ones are based in order to argue that the fictionalized myths of each novel are indicative of that novel?s politics: Orientalist in byNat laieay and revisionist in Ing raitm Bai.n . Although the Uighur and Tang Chinese myths in byNat l aieay  are presented in a reductive and exoticist manner, both byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n use myth as a tool through which to explore racial and gendered oppressions created by political institutions and ideologies. The current chapter will explore the ways in which both novels use myth to criticize oppressive ideologies created not only by the fictional institutions in each novel, but also by the real institutions on which the fictional ones are based. For example, Ing raitm Bai.n portrays sorcery as a form of highly secretive knowledge in order to comment upon the exclusions perpetuated by men?s secret societies such as masquerading societies. The novel also uses its portrayal of sorcery to acknowledge the political climate of Sudan, the geographical location in which the novel is set, while the racialized and gendered violence of the novel responds not only to the anti-Igbo violence discussed in Chapter Two above, but also to the violence that occurred in Sudan during the Darfur crisis. Similarly, although its presentation of Uighur and Tang Chinese myths leaves much to be desired, byNat laieay nevertheless uses these myths to provide a pointed criticism of colonial and patriarchal ideologies. The explicit descriptions of Kitan colonial ideology comment on the artificiality and constructedness of this ideology, while the novel?s presentation of the way in which Kitan women?s lives are circumscribed by patriarchal power structures provides a commentary on the very real oppressions experienced by Tang 56   Chinese women. The effectiveness of the novel?s critiques is limited, however, by the way in which the novel presents these things as regrettable but natural and unavoidable, a presentation that ultimately reinscribes the very marginalization that it attempts to criticize.   3.1 Exploring Exclusions: The Gendered Knowledge of Myth in Ing raitm Bai.n  Sorcery, the primary manifestation of myth in Ing raitm Bai.n , also functions therein as a political institution. While this institution is clearly invented, it is nevertheless based on real political institutions that exist in the cultures upon which the novel draws, in particular the men?s secret societies common to Igbo (and other) cultures. Although the sorcerers in the novel are never explicitly described as belonging to a secret society, the way in which knowledge of sorcery is disseminated in the novel is highly suggestive of such a society. Carlson describes the relationship between the Nsibidi writing system and men?s secret societies, observing that only initiated members of particular secret societies have access to the meaning of Nsibidi symbols and that ?[k]nowledge of ymh2hNh is highly restricted and learned through a progression of ritual tests? (146-47). The Nsibidi writing system is only one of many aspects of sorcery portrayed in Ing raitm Bai.n , and indeed only one of many kinds of knowledge guarded by historical and current secret societies; masquerades, for example, often (though not always) fall under the purview of secret societies (Cole and Aniakor 111). Like those hoping to gain the knowledge of secret societies, Onyesonwu must undergo the ritual test of initiation before she is permitted to learn anything beyond the most basic knowledge of sorcery. Other parallels exist as well. For example, Aro, the sorcerer who eventually becomes Onyesonwu?s teacher, insists that Onyesonwu is not permitted to write down what she learns, which echoes Okorafor?s own 57   observation, in a blog post entitled ?Never Unmask a Masquerade,? that the masking organization in her father?s village does not write down its secrets. Onyesonwu?s father describes Aro as the man who structures the government of Jwahir, Onyesonwu?s village, a political role that suggests the importance that men?s secret societies have historically played in the government of Igbo and other ethnic groups (Cole and Aniakor 116; Carlson 146). The most important parallel, however, is the fact that access to such knowledge is highly gendered. Knowledge of sorcery is an (almost) exclusively male privilege in I ng raitm Bai.n , just as knowledge of Nsibidi and masquerades are almost exclusively male privileges in Igbo and many other cultures.12 Drawing these parallels allows Ing raitm Bai.n to discuss the exclusions perpetrated by such societies within the context of the secondary world. This discussion informs one of the novel?s central conflicts: Onyesonwu?s inability to access information about her magical abilities. While Onyesonwu is able to learn minor juju (magic) from Mwita, Onyesonwu?s close friend and eventually her lover, knowledge of the Great Mystic Points, which are central to the mechanics of true sorcery, is jealously guarded. Aro initially refuses to teach Onyesonwu because she is female (Okorafor 66), and this rejection becomes the single most important obstacle for Onyesonwu to overcome in the early parts of the novel. In fact, Onyesonwu is excluded from the institution of sorcery before she even learns that such an institution exists. When Onyesonwu?s body becomes transparent                                                  12 While I focus on the way in which Nsibidi is used among the Igbo people, it is worth noting that Nsibidi is important to many African ethnic groups, and that while knowledge of Nsibidi is typically a male privilege, there are important exceptions to this rule (Carlson 148-49; Cole and Aniakor 111). Carlson comments that ?the relationship between women and ymh2hNh is very complex,? and varies from context to context (148). Likewise, while Cole and Aniakor assert that Igbo masking organizations are ?overwhelmingly male in membership and concept? (111), they also note a number of exceptions to this rule, such as maiden- and mother-spirit masks (128). The authors also note that some exceptions are specific to particular Igbo villages (157). 58   during her ritual circumcision, the Ada, the priestess who oversees the ritual (and, as readers learn later, Aro?s wife), says that Onyesonwu should speak with Aro; however, when Onyesonwu asks who Aro is, the Ada refuses to elaborate (Okorafor 42). Even Mwita does not tell Onyesonwu that he is Aro?s student; although he is aware of Onyesonwu?s considerable talent for sorcery, he does not even tell Onyesonwu that there is a sorcerer in the village. Instead, Onyesonwu discovers Aro?s position completely by chance, overhearing a conversation between two boys who had recently failed their initiation (Okorafor 62). When Onyesonwu confronts Mwita and demands to know why he withheld this information, Mwita responds that ?[Aro] DgyO. teach you . . .  because you?re a girl, a Dgoiy !? (Okorafor 63). While neither Mwita, who failed his initiation and is thus not permitted to learn the Great Mystic Points (Okorafor 119), nor the Ada are part of the institution of sorcery, and thus not in a position to address the exclusionary nature of its knowledge, they perpetuate that exclusion by concealing Aro?s position from Onyesonwu. Effectively, Onyesonwu?s gender becomes the basis for excluding her not just from the institution of sorcery but from the knowledge that such an institution exists in the first place. The novel?s deployment of myth, therefore, does much more than simply inform the supernatural elements of sorcery; by portraying sorcery not just as a set of magical abilities, but as an institution from which Onyesonwu and other women are excluded, the narrative offers a critique of institutions such as men?s secret societies that perpetuate gendered exclusions.  In ?Never Unmask a Masquerade,? Okorafor writes somewhat dismissively of the perceived need for such gendered knowledge. She describes her own (failed) attempts to learn the secrets of the masquerades and her intent to keep trying, saying sarcastically that ?as soon as the information falls on my female ears . . . the sky will turn black, plants will 59   grow underground, and babies will speak like old men.? Onyesonwu?s struggle to gain access to the knowledge of sorcery, which Okorafor notes in the same blog post is at least partly inspired by the author?s own experiences, becomes a focal point of the novel, and this conflict allows the novel to emphasize the apparently arbitrary nature of gendered exclusions. Aro himself, though he rejects Onyesonwu numerous times, does not deign to explain his reasoning.13 When Onyesonwu first confronts him, Aro comments that because Onyesonwu is female, she cannot ?measure up,? as if Onyesonwu?s gender gives Aro sufficient reason to assume her incompetence (Okorafor 66). In later confrontations, he simply tells Onyesonwu to leave or ignores her altogether (83, 105). Even Mwita does not explain Dnf such knowledge is traditionally kept from women; he informs Onyesonwu that her ability to bear children makes her sorcery ?dangerous and unstable,? but refuses to say why (Okorafor 63). Onyesonwu?s frustration at being repeatedly rejected is heightened by the threat posed by her biological father, Daib; during this time, Onyesonwu has suffered a number of Daib?s magical attacks, and has realized that her only adequate defense against such attacks requires learning to control her magical abilities. Even after Onyesonwu tells Aro that she is being hunted, however, Aro refuses to teach her. His persistent refusal to accept Onyesonwu as his student, especially in the face of Onyesonwu?s genuine talent and urgent need, seems in the novel?s early chapters to be the result of baseless prejudice, although this is later clarified, as I will discuss in more detail below. By drawing parallels between the male-only institution of sorcery in Ing raitm Bai.n and existing male-only                                                  13 Later in the novel, Aro does offer an explanation for his rejections. It is important to note, however, that he provides this explanation only iH.at he has agreed to take Onyesonwu on as his student and she has passed her initiation. In the early parts of the novel, Aro treats even his justification for refusing Onyesonwu as a piece of secret knowledge. 60   secret societies, the novel suggests that such prejudice is shared by historical and current institutions; by making Onyesonwu?s quest to learn sorcery not only a desire, but a necessity, the novel also suggests that such prejudice has the ability to do real and significant harm. While the novel portrays sorcery as an overwhelmingly male institution, the competence and ability of the novel?s female sorcerers suggests that overcoming such gendered exclusions is possible, at least to a degree. Onyesonwu?s talents as a sorcerer allow her to occupy what, in the secondary world of Ing raitm Bai.n , is a traditionally male role, while Mwita, the novel?s most prominent male character, occupies the traditionally female role of healer. Likewise, persuading Aro to teach her the Great Mystic Points is a significant victory after so many rejections, especially since Onyesonwu is far from the only woman whom Aro has rejected; even the Ada has despaired of ever convincing Aro to teach her the Great Mystic Points (87). Onyesonwu?s triumph here is made even more significant by the suggestion that her example may have provided other women with the opportunity to learn the Great Mystic Points. After leaving her village, Onyesonwu learns that Aro may accept Najeeba, Onyesonwu?s mother, as a student, which suggests that Aro, at least, is moving beyond his traditional prejudices by teaching women a traditionally male art (Okorafor 311). Nor is Aro the only one who has overcome such prejudices, as Ting, the apprentice sorcerer of the Red People discussed in the previous chapter, observes. She informs Onyesonwu that both Sola, the sorcerer who oversees the initiation rite, and Ssaiku, the Red People?s master sorcerer, were initially sceptical of Ting?s abilities, and assures Onyesonwu that this attitude is changing (319). Ultimately, although the novel criticizes the exclusionary nature of men?s secret societies, it uses the magical abilities of Onyesonwu, Najeeba, and Ting to envision a future in which those exclusions begin to break down.    61   The effectiveness of this critique of gendered exclusions is limited, however, by the way in which the novel presents the female ability to do sorcery as dangerous. Onyesonwu?s initiation into a typically male role continues to be a point of conflict throughout the novel, especially between Onyesonwu and Mwita, and the narrative ultimately makes clear that while the prejudice against female sorcerers may be unfair, it is far from baseless. In particular, their ability to bear children makes female sorcerers problematic. One of the first things that Aro teaches Onyesonwu, before he even begins to teach her the Great Mystic Points, is that a woman who attempts to practice sorcery while pregnant risks far more than just her own life and her child?s: This happened to a woman long ago who was learning the Points. She was too early in her pregnancy for her Master [to] be aware of it. When she attempted a simple exercise, the entire town was wiped out. Disappeared as if it never existed. . . . You are now on the road to something very powerful but unstable.  (Okorafor 137) This tale reflects the notion that female fertility makes a woman?s power unstable and therefore dangerous, a point raised explicitly by both Aro and Mwita (Okorafor 137, 63) and referenced obliquely at many points throughout the novel. Even Sola cautions Onyesonwu against her own lack of control over her sorcerous abilities (319). By dramatizing the fear of female power that exists in Onyesonwu?s society, this story ultimately provides a justification for excluding women of child-bearing age from the institution of sorcery. Indeed, this story is used to exclude iSS women from practicing sorcery, since the novel makes no explicit distinction between women who can bear children and women who cannot. There is no indication that women who are unable to bear children are any less dangerous 62   than those who are able, nor is there any indication that it is viewed as socially acceptable for women who cannot bear children to practice sorcery.  The tale that Aro tells to Onyesonwu echoes tales that exist among ethnic groups in which the Nsibidi script plays a prominent role. For example, Carlson writes that ?[a]ccording to many myths about the origins of ymh2hNh? women had access to it before men. In these stories, women?s perceived inability to keep secrets results in their having to give ymh2hNh to men and relinquish their knowledge of it? (148). This story about the origins of Nsibidi, much like the story of the pregnant woman that Aro describes to Onyesonwu, asserts that women cannot or should not be trusted with certain kinds of knowledge. However, while the novel is critical of the gendered exclusions perpetuated by the institution of sorcery in Ing raitm Bai.n , and by extension of the gendered exclusions perpetuated by men?s secret societies in current Igbo culture, it does not challenge the sexism inherent in stories that assume that women are incapable of handling certain types of knowledge and power. Instead, the novel treats Aro?s tale of the pregnant woman with complete seriousness. Aro is a figure of considerable knowledge and authority, and Onyesonwu has no cause to question him. Even the Red People, who are remarkably relaxed regarding norms of gender and sexuality and who possess extensive knowledge of sorcery, are cautious when they realize that Onyesonwu is sexually active. Like Aro, they treat the cautionary tale of the woman whose womb wiped out an entire village as if it were absolutely true, and Ting, the female apprentice sorcerer, is prohibited from sexual intercourse (Okorafor 286). In fact, the novel suggests that the characters are completely correct to treat this story seriously, since the story is not just confirmed, but repeated when Onyesonwu, consumed by rage and sorrow after Mwita?s death, uses sorcery to make herself conceive. She is successful, but the 63   consequences of her success are severe: every fertile woman within range of Onyesonwu?s sorcery is impregnated, while every fertile man simply drops dead. Onyesonwu?s actions, however inadvertent, legitimize the notion that a woman?s ability to bear children makes female sorcery dangerous and difficult to control. This in turn suggests that the systemic exclusion of women from the institution of sorcery is not an arbitrary social limitation, but rather a reasonable response to women?s abilities to use dangerous and uncontrollable magic. The novel?s critique of gendered exclusions is thus mitigated by its portrayal of Onyesonwu, Najeeba, and Ting as not only exceptions, but dangerous ones, to the male-only rule.  The novel?s portrayal of these women as exceptional is heightened by the lack of an equivalent female society in Ing raitm Bai.n . In ?Traditional Women?s Institutions in Igbo Society: Implications for the Igbo Female Writer,? Theodora Ezeigbo argues that historical (typically colonial) portrayals of African women as downtrodden and powerless are inaccurate and stem from a lack of understanding of, or discussion about, powerful Igbo institutions such as the Association of Daughters and the Association of Wives (150). Ezeigbo writes that ?[e]ven though, in some situations, women were excluded from participating in political decisions affecting the community at large, they had complete control of affairs concerning themselves . . . [women] could voice out their grievances and even take action when necessary to safeguard their rights when infringement occurred on the part of men? (151). Similarly, Jell-Bahlsen notes that there are two complementary religious-political institutions among the Oru-Igbo, one male and one female, and argues that the female institution possesses a significant amount of ritual and religious power (Ii.at FgNNamm 15). These comments indicate that Igbo women were and are able to exert significant influence over their own lives as well as areas of religious and social significance, 64   despite stereotypical portrayals of African women as not only oppressed, but powerless, and Ezeigbo argues that female Igbo authors have a responsibility to portray ?traditional? women who are able to exercise this kind of self-determination (164). Although Ing raitm Bai.n does not portray ?traditional? societies in the historical sense that Ezeigbo discusses, it certainly engages with aspects of Igbo traditions, including men?s secret societies and the exclusions perpetuated by those societies. However, while the novel does not portray individual women as powerless, it pays little attention to the social influence exerted by even powerful female characters. Similarly, while the novel hints that female societies do exist, gaining access to such a society is certainly not presented as a viable alternative to Onyesonwu?s goal of gaining access to the institution of sorcery. In fact, the novel?s acknowledgement of female societies is so subtle that some readers, particularly readers who are not already aware of the presence of such societies in existing cultures, may not realize that such societies exist within the secondary world of Ing raitm Bai.n  at all. For example, the Ada and other women overseeing Onyesonwu?s circumcision wield a certain amount of social power; they are able to intervene in the ongoing sexual abuse of Binta, one of the girls who undergoes the ritual along with Onyesonwu, punishing the perpetrator and ordering counseling for the victim (Okorafor 47). This echoes Ezeigbo?s assertion that women ?had control of affairs concerning themselves . . . they could voice out their grievances and even take action when necessary to safeguard their rights when infringement occurred on the part of men? (151). However, while the (male) sorcerers of Ing raitm Bai.n are clearly established as belonging to a discrete society, one with its own distinct hierarchy and rules, the women are never explicitly described as belonging to a similar group. Indeed, the way in which the Ada and other women intervene in Binta?s 65   sexual abuse is one of the only events in the novel that acknowledges the social power that women wield as a group. Onyesonwu?s association with powerful female figures such as the Ada and Nana the Wise is limited to her circumcision, and later, requests that the women speak to Aro on her behalf. Furthermore, while (male) sorcerers enjoy obvious magical and social power, there is no obviously equivalent role exclusive to women; the novel implies that the role of ?healer? is meant to be the female complement to the sorcerer, but there is no description of what (if any) powers, either magical or political, or responsibilities that such a role might encompass. Indeed, Onyesonwu never even considers the possibility that women such as the Ada or Nana the Wise may possess information or abilities that Onyesonwu may find useful. Instead, it is Onyesonwu?s desire for knowledge of and acceptance into a male institution that shapes the story of Ing raitm Bai.n . Ultimately, myth in this novel creates an institution (sorcery) that allows Okorafor to explore the unfair exclusions perpetrated by men?s secret societies, and the damage that such exclusions can cause, while also imagining a future in which the exclusive nature of these societies begins to break down. At the same time, however, the novel?s critique of such societies is limited by the way in which it presents female sorcerers, or at least female sorcerers such as Onyesonwu and Ting who are able to bear children, as not just exceptional, but dangerous, and the way in which it presents the male title of sorcerer as a more desirable title to attain than any possible female equivalent.  3.2 Rape as a Weapon: I ng raitm Bai.n ?s Response to the Darfur Crisis As discussed in the previous chapter, In g raitm Bai.n contains few references to myths drawn from Sudanese ethnic groups, even though the novel is set in a far-future 66   version of Sudan (Okorafor 381). However, the novel does not merely appropriate the geographical location while ignoring all of the country?s cultural and political concerns. While the ethnic conflict at the heart of Ing raitm Bai.n  echoes to an extent the history of anti-Igbo violence in Nigeria, as discussed in Chapter Two above, the novel?s portrayal of the Nuru-Okeke conflict also attempts to respond to some of the political conflicts of (now the Republic of) Sudan, particularly the Darfur crisis. In a blog post entitled ?The Writing of Ing raitm Bai.n ,? Okorafor comments that while writing the novel, she encountered Emily Wax?s IimnhyT.gy Mgm. article, entitled ?We Want to Make a Light Baby,? which contends that rape was used as a weapon of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Okorafor remarks, ?I realized that this article was showing me why the people in my story?s town disliked Onyesonwu so much, and why she was so troubled,? referring to Onyesonwu?s identity as an )D1 or mixed-race woman, and the prejudice that Onyesonwu encounters as a result of cultural beliefs that )D1 people are always products of violence who will ultimately become violent themselves (Okorafor 20). Although the novel provides no cultural signifiers indicating that the Nuru people are supposed to represent an Arab or Muslim people, the Okeke-Nuru violence in Ing raitm Bai.n certainly reflects, at least in part, the conflict that Wax describes as taking place between the ?Arab? and ?African? groups in Darfur.14 The description of Daib?s rape of Najeeba, Onyesonwu?s mother, makes this particularly clear. In ?We Want to Make a                                                  14 Wax describes the conflict as taking place between those viewed as ?Arabs? (that is, the Sudanese and Janjaweed soldiers) and those viewed as ?Africans,? primarily those from the ?Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.? However, in Liehg1tm iyN L1tehegtmE BitH1tu MgSh.hUmu iyN .na Iit gy Aattgt , Mahmood Mamdani provides a scathing critique of the Western representation of the conflict in Darfur as primarily racial, arguing that in fact ?the violence in Darfur was driven by two issues . . . The local grievance focused on SiyN . . . [and t]he National context was a ta2aSShgy that brought the state into an ongoing civil (tribal) war? (4). Okorafor?s portrayal of ethnic conflict and rape in Ing raitm Bai.n can therefore be said to be responding more directly to Wax?s portrayal of the Darfur conflict than the Darfur conflict itself.  67   Light Baby,? Wax argues that the rapes occurring in Darfur are part of a program of ethnic cleansing. She quotes a Human Rights Report that states, ?[t]he rapes are often accompanied by dehumanizing epithets, stressing the ethnic nature of the joint government-Janjaweed campaign. The rapists use the terms ?slaves? and ?black slaves? to refer to the women.? Wax observes that the rapists themselves are often explicit about the purpose of the rapes, telling victims that they want to make ?light babies? or ?Arab babies,? since children in Sudanese culture are regarded as children of the father. The novel foregrounds these parallels, not only by making racial conflict central to Ing raitm Bai.n , but also by incorporating that conflict into the novel?s presentation of myth.  While Daib?s rape of Onyesonwu?s mother Najeeba is the only act of sexual violence that is described in detail, the novel makes clear that the rapes and other violence committed against the Okeke by the Nuru continue throughout the events of Ing raitm Bai.n . The use of rape as a weapon remains a particularly important theme throughout the novel, since Onyesonwu?s magical abilities are the result of such a use of rape. In the world of Ing raitm Bai.n , an individual can only become a sorcerer if one or both of the child?s parents have wished for the child to do so. When Daib rapes Onyesonwu?s mother, he does so with the intent of creating not just a sorcerer, but an ally; he gloats to Najeeba that ?[y]ou?ll bear my son . . .  he will be the greatest thing this land will ever see? (Okorafor 372). Daib intends for Onyesonwu and her sorcerous powers to become another weapon against the Okeke people. Although this plan fails when Najeeba gives birth to Onyesonwu instead of Daib?s hoped-for son, the novel repeatedly reminds readers that Onyesonwu was ?supposed? to be both male and Daib?s ally (Okorafor 110, 120, 365). Daib?s rape of Najeeba becomes an important part of Onyesonwu?s character, both because it is how Onyesonwu comes by her magical abilities 68   and because Daib?s violence against Onyesonwu?s mother and against the Okeke people in general becomes one of Onyesonwu?s central motivations for rewriting the Great Book and healing the racial tensions that define the Seven Rivers Kingdom. Tying Onyesonwu?s motivations and abilities so closely to the use of rape as a weapon makes her crusade against Daib not just a personal quest, but a clear condemnation of the racial and gendered violence that Daib both commits and encourages, while the end of the novel invokes the possibility of a future where such violence no longer exists. At the same time, while the fictional Okeke-Nuru conflict of Ing raitm Bai.n more closely parallels the Western portrayal of the Darfur conflict than the Darfur conflict itself, the depiction of rape and ethnic violence allows the novel to invoke the recent history of violence in Sudan, the novel?s geographical location, for readers familiar with Western media depictions of that violence.  3.3 Fiction as a Comment on History in byNat laieay    Much as Ing raitm Bai.n  uses myth to comment on the political ideologies of the present and very recent past, byNat laieay uses myth to comment on the political ideologies of Tang Dynasty China (618-907), just prior to the An Lushan Rebellion (755-763), the political and social milieu that the novel partially reconstructs within its secondary world. Many of the important political figures of byNat laieay are recognizable analogues of historical Tang figures, and the novel?s plot closely follows the events of the An Lushan Rebellion. The fictional empire of Kitai is governed, at least in name, by the aging Emperor Taizu, whose early reign was glorious but whose advancing age and infatuation with his young consort have led him to become much removed from affairs of state (Kay 187). Likewise, the early reign of Taizu?s historical counterpart, Xuanzong, is regarded as a high 69   point of the Tang dynasty, while Xuanzong?s negligence in the latter part of his reign ultimately led to the An Lushan Rebellion (Lewis 40). Lewis expresses some scepticism of the conventionally cited view that Xuanzong?s infatuation with his courtesan led directly to his withdrawal from matters of state and thus to the An Lushan Rebellion (40). Certainly, the facts that Xuanzong NhN  grow infatuated with a young courtesan and NhN eventually relinquish the task of governing China to his ministers are not in dispute (Lewis 42); nor is the fact denied that Yang Guifei, like her fictional counterpart Wen Jian, exerted considerable political influence (Pulleyblank 25). However, although byNat laieay suggests that Emperor Taizu?s disinterest in government comes in no small part from his infatuation with Jian, it does not suggest that the An Lushan Rebellion, known as the An Li Rebellion in the novel, is directly caused by this relationship; indeed, Jian is actively working against Roshan by the end of the novel. Ultimately, although Kay?s portrayal of the An Li Rebellion adheres fairly closely to the events of the historical An Lushan Rebellion, it does not reinforce the conventionally cited view that the rebellion was solely due to the emperor?s negligence, or to the influence of his favoured courtesan. Instead, Kay portrays the An Li Rebellion as the result of a number of factors, such as an increasingly unwieldy empire and in-fighting among the empire?s many officials. Indeed, many of the policies that Lewis cites as contributing to the An Lushan Rebellion are present in byNat laieay as well: for example, the consolidation of power into the hands of a few (and eventually a single) chief minister; the appointment of military governors to high-ranking official positions, and especially the policy of employing non-Chinese, including An Lushan himself (known in byNat laieay as An Li and as Roshan), as military governors; and the elevation to lofty positions of relatives of Yang Guifei, including her cousin Yang Zhao, portrayed in byNat 70   laieay as Wen Jian and Wen Zhou respectively (Lewis 40-43). byNat laieay ?s protagonist Shen Tai enters the Kitan court at a time of great political turmoil; Zhou has ascended to the position of First Minister and ultimately decides to eliminate the ?barbarian? military governor Roshan, just as the historical chief minister Yang Zhao attempted to eliminate An Lushan (Lewis 43).  Similarly, the events of the An Li Rebellion portrayed in byNat laieay mirror almost exactly the events of the historical An Lushan Rebellion, in that Zhou?s actions drive Roshan into open rebellion, and a major strategic error on Zhou?s part allows Roshan?s forces to occupy the capital of Xinan. Emperor Taizu flees the capital along with his court, but his escort mutinies and executes both Zhou and Jian. In the novel, the Emperor is allowed to continue towards Shuquain, but soon surrenders the throne to his heir, Shinzu, who ultimately re-captures Xinan from the rebels (Lewis 43-44). By creating a setting that so closely matches the historical period, the novel is able to comment on the events and political ideologies of not just the fictional Kitan empire, but the historical Tang Chinese Dynasty as well. In some cases, the novel provides this commentary by creating subtle revisions of historical events. For example, according to Lewis, Xuanzong executed both Yang Zhao and Yang Guifei, though his hand was certainly forced by the mutineers (44). In byNat laieay , however, the emperor plays no role in the mutiny, and the soldiers execute both Wen Zhou and Wen Jian themselves. Zhou confronts the mutinying force, and when he arrogantly refuses to listen to their concerns, he is slain by an arrow to the back (Kay 486). When the soldiers demand that Jian also come out to them, however, Jian acquiesces, accepting her death as a consequence of failing to control Zhou (Kay 498). Jian?s death in byNat laieay presents a striking contrast to the death of Yang Guifei, who, according to Beckwith, was 71   simply strangled without ceremony (Ah2a.iy )oshta  144). The highly performative nature of Jian?s death allows the author to invest that death with considerable narrative importance, while Jian?s decision to accept it lends to her death a sense of grace and dignity that Guifei was not permitted to achieve. By granting Jian the ability to accept, and to a certain extent control, the manner of her death, Kay allows one of the novel?s most important female characters to preserve her agency up until the moment of her death. This gesture is indicative of the novel?s larger concern with the way in which women?s lives were circumscribed by patriarchal structures during the Tang Dynasty, a point that I will discuss in more detail below. Like history, myth is an important tool through which the novel comments on Kitan patriarchy and Kitan colonialism, the latter of which was an attitude based on a real and long-lasting history of oppression between the Turko-Mongolic peoples and the Tang Chinese. The Uighur, along with other peoples that constituted the Turk empire of the time, were at one point subjects of the Tang dynasty; the Tang emperor Taizong, who reigned from 626 to 655, conquered the eastern Turks and claimed that the Tang empire encompassed both the Chinese and the Turkic peoples (Lewis 149-50). While the relationship between the fictional Bog? and Kitan peoples does not accurately reflect the relationship of the Uighur and Tang peoples by the time of Xuanzong?s reign and the An Lushan Rebellion, a point that shall be discussed in more detail below, that relationship is nonetheless based on an actual history of oppression. Furthermore, the Tang Chinese continued to perform their superiority over the Uighur, at least according to official sources, even after the Uighur became an empire that equalled the Tang Dynasty in power. For example, Lewis observes that foreign emissaries who visited the Tang court were not viewed as envoys from empires of equal 72   status, but rather were officially designated as bearers of tribute, and typically appeared in native ?costumes,? a political performance meant to suggest that the Tang empire held world-encompassing power (164). In this way the Tang Chinese maintained the illusion of superiority, at least in official sources, over nations that, like the Uighur Qa?anate, were actually equal to the Tang Dynasty in power. Of the Uighur specifically, Mackerras writes that ?the Tang court gave each new kagan [Uighur leader] an officially appointed (HayT) title. . . . The Chinese term suggests that it was the Emperor himself who bestowed power on the kagan? (?Uy?ur-Tang Relations? 226). Mackerras contends, however, that while the Uighur kagans likely valued this formal recognition from the Tang court, it is ?highly unlikely? that the kagans agreed that their offices were bestowed by the Tang emperor, ?since their ideology was specific that it was Heaven from whom they received their power? (226). Thus, although the Uighur were no longer a subject people of the Tang Chinese by the time of the An Lushan Rebellion, the superior attitude that the Tang apparently maintained is reflected in Kay?s portrayal of the Bog? as a subject people of the Kitan. Although the Bog??s status as colonized subjects does not reflect the status of the historical Uighur just prior to or during the An Lushan Rebellion, the Kitan attitude of superiority towards the Bog? is nevertheless based upon a real history of oppression with which the novel attempts to engage. In fact, this portrayal of Kitan superiority is crucial to the novel?s attempt to engage with that history. The superior attitude of the Kitan people is linked explicitly to Kitan colonial ideology, which the novel?s presentation of myth attempts to deconstruct. In ?Paradigms of Colonization,? Francis argues that ?identity is the point of contention in colonization,? and asserts that the religious beliefs of a colonized culture, as an important point of cultural identity, often come under attack (125). This is precisely what happens in 73   byNat laieay , where the Kitan attitude of superiority is established at the expense of Bog? religious beliefs: [T]he Kitan were famously dismissive, never allowing themselves to be more than languidly amused by the primitive beliefs of the barbarians on their borders. Beliefs that confirmed their barely human nature, the appropriateness, in a world rightly ordered, of Kitan pre-eminence. Really: a people that left their dead to be devoured by wolves? (Kay 106) Myth here is mobilized in an explicitly Frazerian fashion: Bog? beliefs are dismissed as the superstitious, inaccurate beliefs of a primitive people, and actually constitute a justification for Kitai?s subjugation of the Bog?. However, the narrative challenges this attitude of superiority. The novel soon demonstrates that the religious beliefs of the Bog? are not so easily dismissed, while the narrator?s characterization of Kitai?s dismissive attitude im dismissive implies that the narrator does not share that attitude. The explicit, almost exaggerated description of colonial ideology invokes Homi Bhabha?s notions of fixity and stereotype:  Fixity, as the sign of cultural/historical racial difference in the discourse of colonialism [ . . . ] connotes rigidity and an unchanging order as well as disorder, degeneracy, and daemonic repetition. Likewise the stereotype, which is its major discursive strategy, is a form of knowledge and identification that vacillates between what is always ?in place,? already known, and something that must be anxiously repeated. . . . (37) It is precisely this repetition that is apparent in the passage from byNat laieay cited above. When he defines the Bog? as primitive and barbaric, Tai turns not to prior experience with or 74   personal beliefs about the Bog?, but to Kitan stereotypes thereof. As Bhabha suggests, Kitan ?knowledge? of the Bog? is already in place, and that so-called knowledge must be anxiously repeated; finding himself unduly affected by the description of Bog? beliefs about swans, for example, Tai rehearses these stereotypes as a way of reassuring himself that such beliefs cannot possibly be true, thus demonstrating the constructedness of the Frazerian characterization of myth as the province of primitive, superstitious peoples.  The constructed nature of Kitan superiority is further emphasized by the way in which the narrative validates Bog? (and Uighur) beliefs. The superior attitude of the Kitan relies on the notion that the truthfulness of ?primitive? Bog? beliefs can be easily dismissed. However, the power of the shamans in byNat laieay is presented as unquestionably real, since it is a shaman?s spell that grants Meshag the ability to communicate with wolves. This portrayal of Bog? myths ?subvert[s] the notion that the religions of colonized subjects are mere myth and superstition, lacking any grounds in fact? (Francis 125), and legitimizes the Bog??s beliefs while further de-naturalizing the attitude of Kitan superiority discussed above. Indeed, the narrative does more than legitimize the myths of the fictional Bog?; it also legitimizes myths of the Turkic peoples from which the Bog??s myths are drawn. Meshag?s retinue of wolves, the single most prominent example of myth in byNat laieay , references the historical bodyguards known as ?b?ri,? the Turkic word for ?wolves? (Stepanov, Ana k1STitm 56). Historically, the b?ri were bodyguards who owed their loyalty to the Turkic kaghan and were believed to be descended from the she-wolf of Turkic origin myths (Golden 147; Stepanov, Ana k1STitm 55). In byNat la ieay , the idea of the b?ri is literalized, and Meshag, who becomes the Bog? kaghan by the end of the novel, is guarded by actual wolves. By legitimizing the beliefs of the fictional Bog?, the novel suggests that the Kitan 75   sense of superiority discussed above is not only constructed, but false. The notion that the Bog? are ?barbarians? who must be controlled, which the Kitan use as a justification for their colonization of the Bog?, is first explicitly de-naturalized and then unequivocally de-legitimized once this justification is revealed to be both artificial and untrue.   The novel?s treatment of Kitan myths strengthens this deconstruction of colonial ideology. Unlike the scenes that focus on the Bog?, where the Bog??s myths are crucial throughout, the only significant discussion of Kitan myths is confined to a single event fairly early in the novel: the appearance of a supposed fox-woman. When Wei Song, Tai?s Kanlin guard and a character whose judgement both Tai and the readers have come to trust, spots a fox on the road to the city of Chenyao, she insists that the fox is actually a Nih0h or fox-spirit. Tai, in contrast, is quick to dismiss the notion. In part, their mixed reactions reflect actual beliefs about fox-spirits during the Tang; according to Kang, fox-spirits were widely worshipped by the common people, even though Chinese officials characterized such worship as ??illicit,? ?excessive,? ?licentious,? ?lewd,? ?profligate,? or ?improper?? (3). However, the characters? mixed reactions also highlight the ambivalence with which the novel treats fox-spirits: as something that may or may not be real. This ambivalence is heightened when Xu Liang, the daughter of Chenyao?s military governor, appears uninvited in Tai?s bedchamber. It is certainly possible that Liang is acting on her father?s orders, but her committed and skilled attempt to seduce Tai seems more suggestive of a creature with legendary sexual appetites than a dutiful daughter attempting to further her father?s political agenda (Kay 209). At the same time, Liang insists that she is not a Nih0h, although Song and even Tai suspect that she is either a Nih0h or possessed by one (Kay 210). The discovery of Liang?s guards, inexplicably asleep outside Tai?s inn, likewise suggests that some sort of 76   supernatural event has occurred, if only by the absence of a logical explanation. As explained in Chapter One, the sense of confusion created by the uncertainty surrounding the fox-spirit?s existence invokes Todorov?s notion of the hesitation; that is, the novel presents both a logical explanation and a supernatural one, and neither the readers nor the characters know which explanation to accept. Furthermore, this hesitation is never resolved; while the narrative ultimately seems to accept that some sort of supernatural intrusion has occurred, it does so not because such an intrusion can be conclusively proved, but rather because the characters have ?no better explanation? (Kay 214). This deep ambivalence about whether Kitan myths are anything more than simple stories provides a striking contrast to the treatment of Bog? myths described above. While Kitan myths are constantly questioned, Bog? myths are unambiguously real, a portrayal that actually reverses the typical dynamic in which the religious beliefs of the colonizers are viewed as legitimate while the religious beliefs of the colonized are viewed as mere superstition. Since the Bog??s supposedly primitive beliefs are presented as the sole justification for the Kitan people?s imperialistic attitude, this reversal suggests that Kitan colonization of the Bog? is indeed not justified at all. In a similar fashion, byNat laieay uses the appearance of the supposed fox-woman to criticize the way in which women?s lives are circumscribed by patriarchal ideologies, in particular the increased commodification of women that occurred during the Tang Dynasty. According to Lewis, ?[t]he Tang dynasty is often depicted as a golden age for Chinese women . . . [but] the Tang was also the period when the commercial market in women became a prominent part of city life? (179). Lewis observes that ?[w]hile the Tang was a time of relative freedom and power for elite women, others became economic commodities? (186); concubines ?were literally bought and sold in the urban marketplace? (186), and 77   daughters of well-off families commanded high bride prices in politically advantageous marriages (183). This reality is reflected in the secondary world of byNat laieay , where the prominent female characters, with the exception of the Kanlin warrior Song, are either concubines or women whose bodies are used as currency in political marriages (or politically motivated seductions). The novel introduces the concept of such political marriages early on with a description of the White Jade Princess Cheng-wan, a Kitan princess married to the ruler of the neighbouring Taguran empire and the woman who gives Tai the 250 Sardian horses. The narrator describes Cheng-wan as ?part of the treaty that followed the last campaign here at Kuala Nor. . . . A slender, graceful token of peace enduring between two empires. . . . [A]s if one girl?s body and life could ensure such a thing,? later adding, ?[p]rincesses were coinage in the world, what else could they be?? (Kay 26). Just as the novel?s explicit description of Kitan dismissiveness towards the Bog? implies a criticism of that dismissive attitude, the explicit characterization of Cheng-wan as a political tool, as coinage or a token of peace, suggests that the novel is critical of this characterization. Although Cheng-wan never appears as an actual character, and is important only insofar as her gift of the horses shapes the story, the novel returns to the characterization of women as political tools at other points of the narrative. For example, Tai and his sister Li-Mei are both infuriated to learn that their older brother Liu has arranged to have Li-Mei elevated to royalty and sent to marry the Bog? kaghan?s heir, despite the political power that Li-Mei?s royal status brings to their family. Tai?s and Li-Mei?s positions as two of the novel?s focal characters invite readers to share their anger on Li-Mei?s behalf. This anger, however, is entirely personal, since Tai regards Liu?s proposal to marry Li-Mei to the Bog? kaghan as a decision that ?shame[s their] father?s memory? (Kay 351), while Li-Mei sees the 78   marriage as something that Liu has orchestrated ?purely for his own purposes? (172). Introducing Liang and the supposed fox-spirit allows the novel to frame the commodification of women as a broader social issue. Liang?s attempt to seduce Tai demonstrates the frequency with which women?s bodies are used as currency in byNat laieay , and also provides one of the most explicit descriptions of the patriarchal ideology undergirding such commodification. Liang implies that she is acting on her father?s orders when she attempts to seduce Tai, a claim that Tai reasons is ?just possible? (208), since Liang?s attempt to seduce him, if successful, could potentially allow Liang, and by extension her father, to claim Tai?s Sardian horses. Such a claim illustrates that marriages like Cheng-wan?s marriage to the Taguran leader, and Li-Mei?s proposed marriage to the Bog? kaghan, are not exceptional circumstances borne of political expediency or ambition, but rather a natural consequence of political manoeuvring in a patriarchal world. Indeed, Liang?s attempt to seduce Tai allows the novel to make the patriarchal ideology that underlies such political manoeuvring explicit. Liang?s claim that she is acting on her father?s orders prompts Tai to evaluate her not as a person, but as a political tool, ?a lissome daughter sent to bind him? (208), since ?daughters?ShPa mhm.atm?could be used as instruments? (209, original emphasis). Raising the injustice of Li-Mei?s proposed marriage allows the novel to frame Liang?s apparent orders to seduce Tai as equally unjust, while the explicit descriptions of Liang as an instrument meant to ?bind? Tai to Liang?s father (208, 210) demonstrate the dehumanizing effects of such ideologies. While the novel?s presentation of colonial and patriarchal ideologies creates a pointed critique of these ideologies, the effectiveness of the novel?s critiques is limited by the way in which the novel ultimately reinscribes the ideologies that it attempts to criticize. For 79   example, the novel naturalizes women?s lack of power even as it condemns that lack. Unlike its depiction of Kitan colonialism, which the novel deconstructs by demonstrating the artificiality of colonial ideology, byNat laieay  criticizes the role that patriarchal ideology plays in Kitan politics without challenging the social constructions of gender that underlie the treatment of women as political tools as well as commodities. While the novel questions the inferior status that the Kitan assign to the Bog? by portraying Bog? myths as unambiguously real, and thus repudiating Kitan constructions of Bog? beliefs as mere superstition, it does not examine the social assumptions that allow women to be used as currency for the benefit of primarily male characters. The fact that women ita used in such a way is presented as unfortunate and even unfair, but also as natural and normal. Even Jian and Spring Rain attain their (in Jian?s case, considerable) political influence by becoming the concubines of powerful men.  The appearance of Liang and the supposed Nih0h, although it provides the novel?s most explicit critique of patriarchal ideology, is particularly problematic due to the way that it portrays Liang as lacking not only power, but agency. While characters like Jian, Spring Rain and even Li-Mei are able, at least to an extent, to navigate the patriarchal system that commodifies them in order to further their own ambitions and desires, Liang is not only portrayed as lacking the power to further her own ambitions, but also as lacking any such ambitions in the first place. Although Liang is the daughter of a powerful military governor, the novel does not suggest that Liang exerts any meaningful influence on the world around her other than through her sexuality. Nor does the novel indicate that Liang uses her sexuality on her own behalf, instead framing Liang?s attempt to seduce Tai as the result of either an order from Liang?s father or the manipulations of a fox-spirit. While it would 80   certainly be plausible for Liang to seduce Tai in order to gain Tai?s Sardian horses, or his connection to Kitan royalty, for herself, the novel does not discuss the possibility that Liang?s attempted seduction may be Liang?s method of furthering her own ambitions. Liang?s own desires and ambitions are completely erased by the assumption that she is acting either as a daughter or a Nih0h. Despite the novel?s criticism of the way in which women are used as tools, Liang is presented as just that; she is either an instrument used on her father?s behalf, or the unwitting tool of a malicious spirit. The appearance of the apparent fox-woman, which the novel uses to examine patriarchal gender relations in the novel, thus has the ironic effect of entirely erasing the agency of Liang, the supposed fox-woman?s victim, an erasure which further reinforces the naturalization of women?s lack of power in byNat laieay . Furthermore, the hesitation that the novel invokes during Liang?s attempted seduction naturalizes the sexuality that the novel claims is a woman?s only method of achieving power in Kitai. The novel places a heavy emphasis on Liang?s sexuality, including detailed descriptions of her perfume, her clothes, and her flawless physical features. Liang is fully committed to her attempt at seduction, making suggestive gestures and remarks that prompt Tai to think that ?[i]f . . . she was doing this on the instructions of her father, she was a very dutiful daughter? (209). Liang?s remarkable sexuality makes perfect sense if she is indeed possessed by a Nih0h, since in the secondary world of byNat laieay , ?[s]hape-shifting fox-women were the subject of erotic legends going back to the earliest dynasties? (211). However, the novel?s ambivalence on the subject of fox-women means that Liang?s sexuality cannot be attributed to the existence of a supernatural creature. Instead, Liang?s confident, practiced seductiveness is a trait that she and other female characters must use to navigate the 81   world around them. Ultimately, the appearance of the fox-woman reinscribes the patriarchal values that the novel attempts to criticize, first by naturalizing women?s lack of power and then by naturalizing their sexuality. The novel?s critique of colonialism is similarly limited. While the deconstruction of colonial ideologies described above works well within the context of the novel?s secondary world, the criticism of colonial ideologies as it applies to the actual Uighur and Tang cultures from which it draws is not nearly so compelling. While the close historical and religious parallels between the fictional Bog? and Kitan peoples and the historical Uighur and Tang Chinese peoples suggest that the novel is criticizing the ideologies of the historical period as well as the fictional one, the success of this criticism is mitigated by some incongruencies that emerge between Kay?s fictional setting and the actual historical period. For example, while there exists a real history of oppression between the Turko-Mongolic peoples and the Tang Chinese, the Turks ultimately revolted against Chinese rule (Beckwith, LhSP YgiN 131), and many scholars contend that the Uighur Qa?anate, which succeeded the Turk empire, was an empire equal in power to the Tang empire by the time of the An Lushan Rebellion (LhSP YgiN 138; Findley 49). The unequal power relationship between the Kitan and the Bog? portrayed in byNat laieay is not representative of the actual relationship between the Uighur and the Tang Chinese. In the novel, the Bog? are portrayed as a subject people of the Kitan, who describe the Bog? nation as a ?tribute-bearing [state]? (Kay 103), and the Kitan feel entitled to intervene in the Bog? succession (Kay 99). The proposed marriages of two Kitan princesses (one of whom is a daughter of Emperor Taizu and the other of whom is Tai?s recently-elevated sister Li-Mei) to the Bog? ruler and his heir is the only event in the novel that suggests that the Bog? exert any sort of influence over the Kitan in return. 82   Historically, the marriage of Tang princesses, particularly daughters of the emperor himself, to another nation indicated that the other nation was equal in power to the Tang Dynasty (Findley 49; Stepanov, ?Political Ideology? 155), but in byNat laieay this significance is downplayed. The narrative briefly acknowledges that these marriages are needed to secure an alliance that will shore up Kitai?s ?momentarily over-extended military? (Kay 170), but no further reference is made to the military assistance that the Bog? provide to the Kitan, despite the fact that historically, the Uighur played a significant role in re-taking the Chinese capitals after the An Lushan Rebellion (Beckwith, LhSP YgiN 146; Mackerras, ?The Uighurs? 317). Thus, although the novel criticizes the colonial ideology of the Kitan people, it portrays the Bog? as considerably more subdued and oppressed than were the Uighur on whom the Bog? are based. Given the tendency of Kay?s work to be explicitly positioned as historical fantasy, as well as the historical parallels between the Bog? and Kitan people of byNat laieay and the historical Uighur and Tang Chinese, it is not unreasonable for readers unfamiliar with Central Asian history to assume that the portrayal of the Bog? in byNat laieay is historically accurate. Thus, although the novel?s sophisticated deconstruction of colonial ideology is certainly effective within the context of the secondary world, this depiction also reduces the historical Uighur, who exerted a significant military, economic, and cultural influence over Tang China and the Central Asian steppes during the time when byNat laieay is set, to a people largely defined by its position as a colonized culture. The novel further downplays the power and influence of the Uighur by eliding key ideological similarities that existed between the Uighur and the Tang Chinese. The position of the Bog? kaghan or leader, for example, is portrayed as an entirely political one, despite the fact that historically, Turko-Mongolic kaghans have occupied places of religious 83   significance (Golden 147; Findley 44; Beckwith, LhSP YgiN 137-38). Findley characterizes the Turko-Mongolic kaghan as a sort of high priest, asserting that the ?[k]aghan and khatun [the kaghan?s wife] were seen not only as a royal couple but also as earthly counterparts of Tengri, the supreme divinity of the T?rk pantheon, and Umay, the goddess of fertility? (48, 44). The kaghan therefore occupied a position similar to that of the Tang emperors who claimed that they ruled with the mandate of Heaven. Indeed, Golden notes that upon being raised to the position, the kaghan ?underwent an elaborate ceremony with strong shamanic undertones? (147), suggesting that Turko-Mongolic beliefs and ceremonies played an active part in matters of statehood, not unlike the way in which the Tang emperor Xuanzong incorporated Daoist ceremonies into his political rule. Furthermore, both the Turko-Mongolic kaghans and the Tang emperors viewed the scope of their empires in similar terms. Beckwith writes that ?[e]ach nation believed its own emperor to be the sole rightful ruler of ?all under Heaven,? and everyone else should be his subjects, whether submitted and dutiful ones or not-yet-subjugated, rebellious ?slaves.? . . . Each emperor thus proclaimed and attempted to actually establish his rule over the four directions? (LhSP YgiN 137). In other words, the belief of each people that its leader ruled by divine right led to an imperial ideology shared by both the Turko-Mongolic peoples and the Tang Chinese. These commonalities, however, are nowhere evident in byNat laieay , which portrays the Kitan emperor as ?Lord of the Five Directions? and ruling with the ?mandate of Heaven? (Kay 181, 26) but mentions the Bog? ruler only in the context of Kitai?s attempts to manipulate the Bog? succession, suggesting that the Bog? have little, if any, political or military influence of their own. Again, this portrayal ignores the fact that historically, the Uighur Qa?anate was an empire equal in power to that of the Tang Chinese empire (LhSP YgiN 138; Findley 49). Instead, the novel 84   presents the Bog? as significantly less powerful and influential than either their fictional colonizers the Kitan or their historical ?equivalents? the Uighur. The novel?s critique of colonial ideology is remarkably effective when considered in the context of the secondary world. However, its attempt to comment on the colonial relationship between the Tang Chinese and the Uighur is predicated on a historical relationship that did not actually exist in the period about which Kay is writing. Ultimately, while the novel succeeds in critiquing the colonial ideology of the fictional Kitan people, its ahistorical portrayal of the Uighur ironically reduces the historically powerful Uighur people to a downtrodden subject people of the Tang Chinese.  3.4 Ahistorical Anthropophagy: The Anomaly of Man-Eating Barbarians in byNat laieay   By portraying the Bog? as a subject people of the Kitan, the novel suggests that the Bog? are much less powerful than their historical counterparts the Uighur, and its focus on the religious beliefs of the Bog? naturalizes that lack of power. Just as the novel?s portrayal of the Bog?-Kitan political relationship portrays the Bog? as subject and powerless, its portrayal of Bog? religious beliefs suggests that the Kitan construction of the Bog? as primitive and barbaric is actually entirely correct. Indeed, the novel suggests that the Bog? are this way 2aUi1ma of their beliefs, and the fact that these beliefs are unambiguously real does not make the Bog? any less barbaric. The flashback to Tai?s first (and only) encounter with the Bog? makes this absolutely clear. Upon discovering the murder of a revered shaman, the Bog? capture the men responsible for the murder and consume the flesh of their still-living prisoners in what appears, to Tai and the horrified soldiers under his command, to be a religious frenzy (Kay 124). This scene, which is presented as so horrifying and so 85   savage that it can only be responded to with violence (Tai?s soldiers slaughter the Bog? who participate in the ritual), merely confirms the idea that the Bog? are barbarians who are utterly beyond the understanding of civilized folk.  Indeed, accusations of cannibalism meant to marginalize a particular people or group are part of a long literary tradition, and it is this tradition, rather than any historical situation, to which the scene of ritual cannibalism in byNat laieay seems to respond. In Ana ,iy -)i.hyT ,f.nE Qy.ntgsgSgTf iyN Qy.ntgsgsniTf , William Arens argues that although written accounts of ?other? cultures engaging in cannibalism begin with Herodotus in the fifth century B.C., there is little adequate documentation of actual instances of cannibalism, or what Arens calls ?anthropophagy? (10). Arens contends that this lack of documentation is prevalent even in publications by professional anthropologists, and ultimately concludes that ?although the theoretical possibility of customary cannibalism cannot be dismissed, the available evidence does not permit the facile assumption that the act was or has ever been a prevalent cultural feature? (182), and that notions of cannibalism serve to maintain a ?crude cultural opposition between ?we? and ?they?? (183). Certainly, the scene of ritual cannibalism in byNat laieay is meant to draw a sharp distinction between the civilized Kitan and the savage Bog?, and does so whether or not it is based on historical data.  In fact, this scene appears to be one of the few scenes in the novel which is yg. drawn, at least in part, from historical descriptions of actual cultural practices. There is a lack of available evidence in current scholarship to support assertions of cannibalism among the either Uighur specifically or the Turko-Mongolic peoples in general.15 While it is possible                                                  15 The sources consulted on this issue include William Arens? Ana ,iy -)i.hyT  ,f.n ; Christopher Beckwith?s )oshtam gH .na LhSP YgiN and Ana Ah2a.iy )oshta hy vay.tiS Qmhi; Florin Curta?s )im. vay.tiS iyN )im.aty  )1tgsa hy .na )itSf ,hNNSa QTam; Carter Vaughn Findley?s Ana A1tPm hy IgtSN lhm.gtf; Rene Grousset?s 86   that this scene is drawn from acts of cannibalism supposedly engaged in by other cultures such as the Mongols, who inherited the Central Asian steppes from the Uighur and were commonly accused of cannibalism, Gregory Guzman argues that accusations of Mongol cannibalism are not only spurious, but part of a specifically Western literary tradition. Guzman notes that it is gySf Western texts that accuse the Mongols of cannibalism, and, furthermore, that Western accounts of Mongol ritual cannibalism are not based on historical evidence or even supposed eyewitness accounts. Rather, he argues that Western descriptions of Mongol cannibalism ?fuse classical legends, Alexander Romances, biblical exegesis, and/or allegations of Asian ritual cannibalism?in other words . . . they continue centuries of Western and Middle Eastern literary tradition? (32). Guzman contends that ?[f]or Westerners, one principal way to denigrate and dehumanize people is to call them barbarians in general and cannibals in particular? (33); ultimately, Guzman writes, Western texts that accused the Mongols of cannibalism ?merely did what secular and sacred literary tradition encouraged them to do: they called the Mongols?the contemporary barbarian threat?cannibals because earlier writers had treated barbarians the same way? (39-40). The ritual cannibalism scene in byNat laieay , then, does not reflect a historical tradition but rather participates in a literary one, and that tradition reinforces the notion that the Bog??s beliefs make them barbarians indeed, whether or not those beliefs are real. However, readers unfamiliar with the customs of Central Asian nomads may not recognize that this scene of ritual cannibalism is entirely fictional in nature, and the historical parallels present in byNat                                                                                                                                                        )oshta gH .na L.assam; Gregory Guzman?s ?Reports on Mongol Cannibalism;? Walther Heissig?s Ana YaShThgym gH ,gyTgShi; Erik Hildinger?s Iitthgtm gH .na L.assa ; Colin Mackerras?s Ana bhTn1t )oshta dxqq-Kq?: QUUgtNhyT .g .na AOiyT Bfyim.hU lhm.gtham, as well as his articles ?The Uighurs? and ?Uy?ur-Tang Relations;? Tsvetelin Stepanov?s Ana k1STitm iyN .na L.assa )oshta hy .na )itSf ,hNNSa QTamE Ana Mtg2Sao gH .na G.natm; and James Thrower?s Ana YaShThg1m lhm.gtf gH vay.tiS QmhiE rtgo .na )itSham. Ahoam .g .na Mtamay. Bif. 87   laieay invite readers to associate the cannibalism of the fictional Bog? with the customs of the historical Uighur. By portraying the Bog? as cannibals, the novel reinforces an already-existing Western stereotype of foreigners in general, and Central Asian nomads in particular, as primitive and barbaric, and undermines its project to deconstruct colonial ideology by creating a portrayal of cannibalism that responds to Western colonial tropes rather than to historical realities. In fact, even the novel?s repeated use of the word ?barbarians? to describe the Bog? invokes a particularly Western tradition of marginalization. Beckwith argues that the word ?barbarian? embodies ?a complex )1tgsaiy cultural construct,? rather than reflecting the opinions that the Tang Chinese held about the Uighur or about foreigners in general (LhSP YgiN 360, original emphasis). The notion that the peoples of Central Asia were ?barbarians? comes, Beckwith asserts, from the erroneous European belief that Central Asians were innately violent, innately skilled at warfare, and inclined to invade the territories of their more ?advanced? neighbours in order to steal goods such as textiles and agricultural products (322, 324). However, Beckwith contends that the peoples of Central Asia produced their own goods, were an essential part of trade in the region, and did not need to attack neighbouring nations in order to procure goods (341, 328). Furthermore, Beckwith argues that recorded instances of Central Asian peoples invading China for any reason are rare, and never for the simple purpose of obtaining goods (335). For example, he notes that even the Uighurs? sack of the eastern Chinese capital was authorized by the financially strapped Tang emperor as a reward for the Uighurs? help during the An Lushan Rebellion, while ?[a]ll other incidents of Uighur destruction within China appear to be in repayment for treaty breaking, deception, diplomatic affronts, and insults by the T?ang? (335-36). Beckwith asserts that not only is the 88   European belief that the peoples of Central Asia were barbarians based on a set of historically inaccurate assumptions, but it is not a belief that the classical Chinese seemed to share; classical Chinese words for ?foreigner? referred to both nomadic and urban peoples, and the Tang word for ?foreigner? had no negative connotations (359). Ultimately, Beckwith concludes that translating the Tang word for ?foreigner? as ?barbarian? is both a mistranslation and an imposition of a specifically Western cultural construct onto a non-Western people, one that ?gives the false impression that the Chinese had the same ideas about Central Eurasians as the Europeans did? (361). Just as the portrayal of ritual cannibalism responds to a Western literary tradition rather than a Chinese one, the repeated use of the word ?barbarian? in byNat laieay  imposes a specifically Western tradition of marginalization onto Kay?s attempt to engage with the oppression of the Uighur by the Tang Chinese.   3.5 Insider/Outsider Perspectives and Embodied Myth in Ing raitm Bai.n and byNat laieay  My thesis understands myth primarily as aetiological narratives that arise from specific cultural contexts. Indeed, as I have argued, understanding myth as culturally specific is crucial to understanding the presentation of myth in both Ing raitm Bai.n and byNat laieay . However, while the myths portrayed in both novels are certainly inspired by sacred narratives, they do not always appear in the novels as sacred, or in narrative form. Instead, aspects of these sacred narratives are embodied by each novel?s characters. Onyesonwu of Ing raitm Bai.n is literally able to change her body by shape-shifting into other animals both mundane and mythical, while Meshag of byNat laieay gains the ability to 89   communicate with wolves from a spell that physically alters his body. While both novels contain characters who experience myth as an embodied phenomenon, there are striking differences in the way each novel approaches that phenomenon. In Ing raitm Bai.n , Okorafor uses embodied myth not only to explore but also to represent certain experiences of race and gender. For example, Okorafor?s article ?Organic Fantasy? suggests that Onyesonwu?s shape-shifting abilities are based in part on a conversation that Okorafor had with a (Christian) Nigerian uncle while driving down a Nigerian road. Okorafor?s description of the event is full of conflicting cultural images: she is with family members born and raised in Nigeria, but these family members are ?telling [her] stories that sound like hy.atsta.i.hgym (not favourable ones) of Africa from outsiders? (278, original emphasis); she is ?surrounded by Nigerian land,? but she is thinking about Stephen King novels and listening to Guns?n?Roses, and ?suddenly Axl [the lead singer] refers to black people as ?niggers?? (278, 277). Okorafor describes her reaction as intensely physical. She states that she felt as though she were ?flickering back and forth? between Nigerian and American cultures, and asks, ?why wouldn?t it be logical to illustrate myself literally changing shape when I write about this bus ride? My reaction certainly was just as physical as it was mental. And everything about that bus ride was fantastic and surreal? (277, 278). Onyesonwu?s shapeshifting abilities, then, are not only embodied insofar as they allow the character to alter her physical body; they also emerge from the author?s own experience as a sort of cultural shapeshifter. Myth becomes not just a method of creating or challenging cultural norms, but also of understanding the experiences shaped by those norms. Okorafor?s strategy of using myth to represent her own experiences allows her to write about Onyesonwu?s exclusion from the institution of sorcery, and the larger issue of the systemic 90   exclusion of women from Igbo secret societies, in a way that is intimate and immediate. The novel?s portrayal of Onyesonwu as a sympathetic protagonist invites readers to share the subjective experience of Onyesonwu?s frustration at these exclusions, and to examine the damage that such exclusions can cause. However, Ing raitm Bai.n ?s focus on the experiences of exclusion also means that the novel misses an opportunity to explore the potency of female-only institutions in Igbo societies. Ing raitm Bai.n focuses not on empowered female characters, but rather on a female character who must struggle to become empowered, a portrayal that, as Ezeigbo contends, reinforces the colonial stereotype of the downtrodden African woman. In byNat laieay , on the other hand, the gendered exclusions upon which Kay?s portrayal of myth comments exist outside of the experience of the novel?s protagonist. b yNat laieay ?s critique of patriarchal power structures functions mostly through emphasizing the unfairness of such structures to other characters such as Li-Mei and Liang. The introduction of Liang and the supposed fox-woman, in particular, gives the novel an opportunity to criticize the damaging role of these patriarchal power structures and the dehumanizing effects that they have on the women who must navigate them. At the same time, however, describing Liang?s apparent possession by a Nih0h through Tai?s perspective, rather than Liang?s, has the ironic effect of erasing both Liang?s experiences (despite the fact that the trope of possession by a fox-woman borrows from a narrative tradition in which the female experience was central, as discussed in Chapter Two) and her agency. Tai is incapable of viewing Liang as anything other than an instrument, whether of her father?s political ambition or a fox-spirit?s capricious desires. Ultimately, while the portrayal of myth in 91   byNat laieay allows the novel to comment on the experiences of women in a patriarchal society, it also alienates readers from those experiences. The novel?s portrayal of the Kitan Nih0h as a disembodied fox-spirit whose existence cannot be conclusively proved provides a stark contrast to its portrayal of Bog? myths, the effects of which are quite concrete. While Meshag is not able to shapeshift as Onyesonwu does, his physical presence is profoundly altered by the spell that binds him to the wolf pack. His shambling gait and lifeless eyes effectively embody the results of the shaman?s spell, creating a depiction of Bog? shamanism that is much more tangible than the novel?s ambivalent presentation of the supposed fox-spirit. The presentation of Bog? myths as embodied allows the novel to actually reverse the typical dynamic between colonizer and colonized, portraying the shamanism of the colonized Bog? people as unambiguously real and the fox-spirit of the colonizing Kitan people as a folk tale whose supposed existence may be no more than simple superstition. This reversal reinforces the novel?s pointed critique of colonial ideology, which functions by demonstrating the artificiality of that ideology.  At the same time, however, the novel?s portrayal of myth works to reinscribe that ideology by depicting embodied myth in byNat laieay as a marker of cultural otherness. Encounters with Bog? myths are always narrated from the point-of-view of Kitan characters, for whom embodied myth is something that can be observed, but never understood. Meshag, for example, is initially presented as unnatural and monstrous. While he eventually becomes less threatening, he never becomes less strange; the novel explains his background and his motivations, but his experiences remain a mystery. This strangeness is generalized to the Bog? at large, whom the Kitan view as primitive and barbaric. Ultimately, the novel suggests that the Kitan are correct to view the Bog? in this way, since despite the fact that the Bog??s 92   religious beliefs are unambiguously real, the scene of ritual cannibalism proves that the Bog? are barbarians indeed. The depiction of ritual cannibalism responds not to any historical incident, but rather to a long tradition through which Western writers have marginalized peoples of non-Western societies by portraying those societies as savage and cannibalistic, and is one of a number of ahistorical elements that undermine byNat laieay ?s otherwise sophisticated engagement with issues of colonialism and imperialism.  Okorafor?s engagement with the recent history of the Darfur crisis in Ing raitm Bai.n is similarly problematic. The novel?s portrayal of rape as a weapon responds to media portrayals of the violence that occurred during the Darfur conflict and provides a clear condemnation of that violence. However, the violence at the heart of Ing raitm Bai.n is portrayed as being quite clearly racial, with the light-skinned Nurus enslaving, raping, and eventually attempting to commit genocide against the dark-skinned Okekes. While the focus on racial violence in Ing  raitm Bai.n echoes to an extent the historical violence committed against the Igbo people in Nigeria, as discussed in Chapter Two, it also reinforces erroneous and reductive portrayals by the Western media of the Darfur crisis as a primarily racial conflict, suggesting that while the novel is set in the geographical location of Sudan, the racial violence of Ing raitm Bai.n responds more directly to Western media portrayals of the Darfur crisis than to the political and cultural concerns of the Darfur crisis itself. 93    EM01)fPEM l Western fantasy literature is well-known for its tendency to create new or secondary worlds, settings that not only contain magic but also for which entire geographies, cultures and species have been invented. Aspects of these secondary worlds, particularly their supernatural elements, are often inspired to a greater or lesser degree by the cultures and myths of historical societies, and there is a long-standing tendency in the genre to take that inspiration from Western civilizations in particular. However, as exemplified by the two novels I examine in this thesis, there has been a recent shift in fantasy literature away from the stereotypical setting of medieval fantasy England and towards settings grounded in non-Western cultures and myths. This shift is more than a simple desire to explore ?new? or different settings; it also reflects a developing interest within the larger speculative fiction community (that is, writers and readers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror) in creating stories that challenge the traditional values that these genres have typically upheld. Indeed, some fantasy texts, such as the upcoming anthology CgyT lhNNayE LsaU1Si.hea rhU.hgy Htgo .na ,itThym gH lhm.gtf tentatively scheduled for release in early 2014, explicitly seek to reclaim a genre that, as the anthology?s website states, ?[has its] roots in real-world history of invasion and oppression.? The CgyT lhNNay anthology seeks to reclaim speculative fiction by providing stories grounded in the real-world histories of marginalized peoples and groups, in order to counteract the erasure that these groups have historically suffered, both within the genres of speculative fiction and without. Projects like the CgyT lhNNay anthology seek to subvert the traditional values encoded in the fantasy genre by including stories about those groups that have typically been 94   excluded. However, it is also important to examine the ways in which fantasy texts that depict non-Western myths go beyond simply including those myths. In Kay?s byNat laieay  and Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n , the Asian and African myths do more than simply inform the setting of each story. These myths are also in conversation with historical events, cultural ideologies, and generic conventions, and while these conversations can be quite productive, they can also be quite damaging. It is therefore important not to understand myth as universal, according to literary theories like Frye?s archetypal criticism, or as existing only within the context of the secondary world, as do some recently published studies on the subject of fantasy and myth. Rather, it is crucial to examine the myths portrayed in fantasy texts in relation to the specific cultural contexts from which those myths arise, in order to understand the conversations in which such myths engage, the oppressions that they interrogate, and the harms they enable. In Okorafor?s Ing raitm Bai.n , for example, examining the mechanics of sorcery within the fictional Seven Rivers Kingdom in relation to the real African myths by which those mechanics were inspired provides insight into the way in which Okorafor uses the African myths as intertexts, exploring the oppressions inherent in the African myths while at the same time using those narratives to emphasize the themes of Ing raitm Bai.n . Similarly, examining Bog? shamanism and the Kitan Nih0h in byNat laieay in relation to Turko-Mongolic shamanism and Tang Chinese fox-spirit narratives allows for a greater understanding of not only the myths themselves, but also the colonial and patriarchal ideologies that the portrayal of those myths attempts to deconstruct. Both novels use myth to provide a thoughtful deconstruction of different colonial ideologies. byNat laieay ?s explicit description of the Kitan people?s superior attitude towards the Bog? demonstrates the constructedness and artificiality of the ideology used to 95   justify colonial policies. This deconstruction is most effective when understood in the context of Kay?s secondary world, but can also be analyzed in relation to the historical cultures of the Uighur and Tang Chinese; although the Uighur were no longer the subjects of the Tang Chinese by the time of the An Lushan Rebellion during which the novel is set, the relationship between the Bog? and the Kitan peoples in byNat laieay is nevertheless based on a real history of oppression and subjugation of the Uighur by the Tang Chinese. The way in which the myths of the Bog? are portrayed as unambiguously real reinforces this deconstruction by legitimizing the beliefs of the colonized Bog? rather than the colonizing Kitan, challenging the colonial stereotype that the myths of colonized peoples are mere superstition. Furthermore, the parallels between the fictional Bog? and the historical Uighur allow the novel to suggest that the Uighur people?s religious traditions were likewise more than unsubstantiated beliefs in folktales and legends. That the beliefs legitimized in this way include the Bog??s shamanistic powers is particularly significant, since it repudiates the traditional Western understanding of shaman figures as primitive, irrational, or mentally unwell. Despite the notable absence of Western colonialism in Ing raitm Bai.n , Okorafor?s novel likewise interrogates colonial ideologies. In particular, Okorafor?s tactic of adapting Igbo myths and blending them with myths from other African countries and ethnic groups disputes the colonial stereotype that indigenous identity is static and does not change over time. Rejecting the colonial notion of authenticity also allows Okorafor to examine the oppressive ideologies inherent in the African myths themselves, such as the Igbo view of twins and other multiple births as monstrous and unnatural. Okorafor?s decision to replace the Igbo view of twins as monstrous with the Yoruba view of twins as exceptional effectively 96   erases this oppression for readers who are not already aware of this particular Igbo belief, while inviting readers who are familiar with this belief to re-examine it in contrast to the less oppressive Yoruba view. Okorafor?s examination of gender functions in a similar way. The portrayal of female characters in Ing raitm Bai.n as more capable than the men at traditionally male tasks like reading and writing Nsibidi scripts leads readers to question the legitimacy of the need for male-only knowledge, while the novel?s engagement with male secret societies allows it to at once foreground the unfair exclusions perpetuated by such societies and also envision a future in which that exclusive nature begins to break down. Likewise, readers familiar with Chinese history will recognize a similar strategy in Kay?s approach to gender in byNat laieay . Kay explores an issue specific to the time and place about which he is writing, particularly the increased commodification of women during Tang Dynasty China, but also re-imagines the history of characters like Jian, emperor Taizu?s concubine, who in byNat laieay is portrayed in a more sympathetic light than her counterpart Guifei has conventionally been represented in historical texts, and whose death in byNat laieay affords Jian more grace and dignity than the fate suffered by the historical Guifei. Examining the specific cultural and historical contexts from which the myths of Ing raitm Bai.n and byNat laieay  are derived is central to understanding the sophisticated and innovative ways in which these novels criticize and revise the oppressions enabled by the Asian and African myths they portray and the cultures from which those myths were drawn. Those specific cultural and historical contexts are also essential, however, to an understanding of the problems with each novel?s approach to myth. The portrayal of myth in Ing raitm Bai.n becomes problematic when considered in relation to an audience that is not 97   familiar with the African myths upon which Okorafor draws. Much of the novel?s commentary on colonial and gendered ideologies will be lost on readers not already familiar with Igbo and Yoruba myths. More importantly, however, Okorafor?s cultural blending runs the risk of homogenizing the cultures that Okorafor invokes, since readers not already familiar with those cultures will not be aware that any such blending has occurred. By mixing myths from different cultures in order to question Western notions of authenticity, especially cultures with a history of violence such as the one that exists between the Igbo and Yoruba peoples, Ing raitm Bai.n ultimately risks reinforcing another colonial stereotype: that African cultures cannot or need not be easily differentiated. The layering of Sudanese history over Igbo and Yoruba history likewise invites criticism that the novel is homogenizing different cultures. Furthermore, by setting a story about racial conflict in the geographical location of Sudan, the novel echoes Western media portrayals of the Darfur conflict as a primarily racial war, ultimately reducing a complex historical and political conflict to a simple story of racial tension for the sake of racial tension. Similarly, while Kay?s use of myth in byNat laieay  convincingly demonstrates the constructedness of colonial ideology, it also reifies that ideology in a number of ways. The novel?s treatment of the Bog? as colonial subjects of the Kitan suggests that the Bog??s historical counterparts the Uighur were likewise subjects of the Tang Chinese, which, while certainly true at earlier points in history, was no longer the case in the period during which the events of the An Lushan Rebellion took place. For readers unfamiliar with Central Asian history, the novel?s portrayal of the Bog? as colonial subjects essentially reduces the Bog? from an economically, militarily, and culturally powerful people to the oppressed and victimized subjects of a much more powerful nation. The novel?s portrayal of the Bog? 98   further suggests that the Bog?, and by extension the Uighur, were primitive and barbaric. Readers unfamiliar with Central Asian history may not realize that the novel?s emphasis on Bog? shamanism and its depiction of ritual cannibalism are misrepresentations of the historical Uighur people, especially since portrayals of both shamanism and cannibalism respond directly to Western traditions of primitivism and exoticism. So too does the novel?s depiction of Tang Chinese fox-myths, which are portrayed in byNat laieay as a series of narratives focusing entirely on a single figure, that of the supernaturally seductive fox-woman. Readers not already familiar with the tradition of Tang Chinese fox narratives are unlikely to realize from the narrow portrayal of fox-women in byNat laieay that the Tang tradition was in fact quite broad and varied. Rather than responding to the Tang tradition, the dangerously sexual fox-women of byNat laieay invoke a long-standing tradition of Western Orientalism that is both exoticizing and highly gendered.  Indeed, both byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n portray women in a similar light: as beings whose sexuality makes them both powerful and dangerous. byNat laieay presents fox-women as beings whose sexual appetites are so extreme that they pose a physical danger to their male victims, and heightens the association of fox-women with dangerous sex by assigning fox-women the name of Nih0h. This term, which echoes the name of the ?fatal? Shang concubine Daji, suggests that the fox-women of Kitai have the power to destroy not just individual victims, but entire empires as well, while the hesitation that the novel invokes regarding the existence of fox-women suggests that their dangerous sexuality is in fact a natural trait of iSS women. The dangerous sexuality of women is likewise naturalized in Ing raitm Bai.n  when Onyesonwu, who has constantly been warned about the instability of her magical powers, inadvertently decimates the male population of an entire village. Although 99   Onyesonwu is able to counter the social perception of women as incapable of or less suited to sorcery than men, at least insofar as she gains admittance into a highly exclusive male secret society, she is unable to combat the problem of her biology; her ability to bear children ultimately makes her a figure just as dangerous as the empire-toppling (fox-)women of byNat laieay . This biological determinism is indicative of the liberal feminist approach taken by the novel as a whole. Ing raitm Bai.n is not interested in dismantling existing patriarchal institutions but rather in allowing women to participate in those institutions. Onyesonwu?s quest to gain acceptance into such an institution is central to early parts of the plot, and the novel focuses on this quest to the exclusion of exploring other options like equivalent female societies. In fact, Ing raitm Bai.n ?s liberal feminist approach to gender is also suggestive of the novel?s relationship with the fantasy genre as a whole. The novel uses a fantasy story and setting to reclaim myths that have been produced as exclusively male, but also uses those myths to reclaim the fantasy genre itself, placing a female character and a magic system based on African myths at the forefront of a story in a genre that has typically been patriarchal, Euro-centric, and colonial. byNat laieay , on the other hand, uses fantasy and myth to examine a historical period. While Ing raitm Bai.n uses fantasy and myth to re-imagine current cultural institutions in a more inclusive way, byNat laieay uses fantasy to reconstruct, and then comment on, the political ideologies and cultural institutions of the past. Kay?s use of the fantasy genre, in particular, allows him to actualize the myths and beliefs of the cultures about which he is writing. In a 2013 reading at Thompson River University, Kay said of the cultures about which he writes that ?if they believed the world was a certain way, I will let 100   the world be that way.? Kay?s use of mythically-informed fantasy allows him to literalize and legitimize the religious beliefs of the cultures about which he writes, but also runs the risk of legitimizing the potentially damaging political ideologies encoded in those myths. Both byNat laieay and Ing raitm Bai.n have a complex relationship with myth, fantasy, history, and past and present ideologies of colonialism and patriarchy. 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