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A postcolonial conception of the high school multicultural literature curriculum Greenlaw, James C. 1994

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A POSTCOLONIAL CONCEPTION OF THE HIGH SCHOOLMULTI CULTURAL LITERATURE CURRI CULUMbyJAMES C. GREENLAWHon.B.A., University of Western Ontario, 1975B.Ed., University of Western Ontario, 1976M.A.T., University of Western Ontario, 1982A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESCentre for the Study of Curriculum and InstructionFACULTY OF EDUCATIONWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardUNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch 1994James C. Greenlaw, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of : I... L.-fThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate (L ,9q•t-DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTCurrently, in many high schools throughout Canada andthe United States, English teachers have been developingliterature curricula to meet the needs of their culturallydiverse students. However, because in most cases theseeducators have not had at their disposal the interpretativetechniques of such postcolonial literary theorists as EdwardSaid and Gayatri Spivak, they have been relying, instead,for their reading strategies upon traditional literarytheories.Unfortunately, when teachers employ New Critical,archetypal, feminist, or reader—response methods of literaryanalysis in their reading of multicultural literature, theyare often unaware of the Eurocentric biases contained withinthese perspectives. This lack of understanding of theirtheoretical frame of reference can then lead teachers toencourage their students to accept uncritically problematicrepresentations of various cultural groups as they encounterthese representations in their literary texts. Postcolonialliterary theory, on the other hand, encourages students toproblematize Eurocentric representations of imperialism’sOthers.iiThe advantage to students who use postcolonial readingstrategies in order to become aware of the different ways inwhich people at the margins and centres of empire view eachother is that they can thus attain higher levels ofmulticultural literacy by performing more sophisticated andcomplex interpretations of their texts than they might havedone using traditional interpretative approaches. At thesame time, the students’ use of postcolonial readingstrategies can help them to become more effectiveintercultural communicators as they cross cultural bordersby carrying out collaborative responses to literary textswith students whose heritage differs from their own.This project, therefore, involves a critique ofexisting conceptions of the high school multiculturalliterature curriculum by comparing their key features withthose of the postcolonial conception. The principal focusof the investigation is upon how the postcolonial approachcan help students to understand, more effectively than cantraditional conceptions, the necessarily dynamic andheterogeneous textual representations of dominant andsubaltern cultures to be found in both Eurocentric andpostcolonial literary texts.i_liTABLE OF CONTENTSTitle Page iAbstract iiTable of Contents ivAcknowledgements vDedication vi1. The Postcolonial Conception and Border Pedagogy .... 12. Postcolonialism and Deconstruction 453. The New Critical Conception 864. The Archetypal Conception 1215. The Feminist Conception 1736. The Reader—Response Conception 2177.TheAntiracistConception 2538. Conclusions 282References 315Appendix A 341Appendix B 344ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to acknowledge my debt of gratitude to theprofessors of the University of British Columbia’s Facultyof Education for the kind and thoughtful help they havegiven me during my doctoral studies. In particular I wouldlike to thank Dr. John Willinsky for guiding me through myexplorations of poststructural curriculum and literarytheory and for chairing my thesis committee. As well, Iwould like to extend a sincere thank you to Dr. Kogila AdamMoodley, Dr. LeRoi Daniels, Dr. Walter Werner, and Dr.Jerrold Coombs for the valuable assistance each of them hasoffered to me at various stages during my course work andthesis writing. To the Grey County Board of Education whichprovided me with a year’s sabbatical salary, I offer aheart-felt thank you. And, finally, I wish to express myappreciation to the many teachers and students with whom Ihave carried out my research. The teachers in BritishColumbia and Japan who have provided so much help to me areDavid Low, Alan Sanderson, Wendy Cowley, Virginia Lam,Hillel Weintraub, Dave Brier, and Darryl Vermiere.vDEDICATIONThis dissertation is dedicated with love to my parents,Eveline and Lyle, my children, Emily and Cohn, and my wife,Ruth, for their kind support and patience during the pastfour years while I followed my dream, and to my friends,Lang Wang Kai and Liang Qian Yi, in the People’s Republic ofChina, for teaching me the value of interculturalcommunication.viChapter 1.The Postcolonial Conceptionand Border PedagogyIn the postcolonial conception of the high schoolmulticultural literature curriculum, narratives are thoughtto be contested terrains in which the discourses ofimperialism and its Others struggle for control over howpeople and places are to be represented. Edward Said, theleading postcolonial theorist of the past two decades, hasrecently emphasized just how important to the study ofliterature is a theory which accounts, on the one hand, forthe ways cultural representations are affected byimperialism and, on the other, for the ways imperialistnations depend upon narratives of empire for much of theircontrol over colonial lands and subjects.1 In Said’s Cultureand Imperialism, the sequel to his foundational work ofpostcolonial theory, Orientalism (1978), he explains how theliterary texts of empire and its Others are “rich culturaldocuments” (1993, p. 20) in which the literary student asethnographer can find evidence of the imperial interactionas it is experienced by members of both metropolitan andmarginal communities.Of central importance to postcolonial theory, as Saidelucidates it, is the notion that imperial hegemony,1subaltern resistance, and the production of narratives areinextricably linked both in the centres of empire such asLondon, Paris, and New York, and at its periphery in placessuch as India, Algeria, and Panama:Stories are at the heart of what explorers andnovelists say about strange regions of the world; theyalso become the method colonized people use to asserttheir identity and the existence of their own history.The main battle in imperialism is over land, of course;but when it came to who owned the land, who had theright to settle and work on it, who kept it going, whowon it back, and who now plans its future - theseissues were reflected, contested, and even for a timedecided in narrative. As one critic has suggested,nations themselves are narrations. The power tonarrate, or block other narratives from forming andemerging, is very important to culture and imperialism,and constitutes one of the main connections betweenthem. Most important, the grand narratives ofemancipation and enlightenment mobilized people in thecolonial world to rise up and throw of f imperialsubjection; in the process many Europeans and Americanswere also stirred by these stories and theirprotagonists, and they too fought for new narratives ofequality and human community. (pp. xii-xiii)Where, in the past, empire’s Others were routinelydefined in dominant culture discourse as primitive, lazy,mysterious, or exotic, once these individuals seized theopportunities to produce their own oppositional discoursesin a variety of resistance literatures, the old stereotypeswere replaced with complex representations of self andplace. For the postcolonial conception of the high schoolmulticultural literature curriculum, then, culture is seenas an important vehicle for identity formation.2 But,2because from the postcolonial perspective culture itself isviewed as a highly fluid and heterogeneous formation,constructed out of the discourses of its dominant andsubaltern groups, the fashioning of such identities wasnever a one—sided affair. Rather, it involves forimperialism’s oppressed Other the subverting and opposing ofimperialist discourse at the same time as those usefulfeatures of dominant culture narratives are appropriated bythe oppressed as strategic weapons in their decolonizingstruggles: “We begin to sense that old authority cannotsimply be replaced by new authority, but that new alignmentsmade across borders, types, nations, and essences arerapidly coming into view, and it is those new alignmentsthat now provoke and challenge the fundamentally staticnotion of identity that has been the core of culturalthought during the era of imperialism” (pp. xxiv-xxv).The teacher of multicultural literature in the highschool, therefore, must be aware of the ways in whichstudents are engaged in complex and dynamic identityformation and exploration as they position themselves inrelation to the dominant and subaltern discourses which theyencounter in their literary texts. Said terms hispostcolonial approach to the deconstruction of staticcultural identities a comparative literature of3imperialism.3 Rather than simply accepting either thediscourses of imperialism or those of its different subjectgroups as the ultimate truths about Western and Third Worldidentities, therefore, postcolonial theorists such as Saidemploy their methods of comparative analysis in order tosearch for the points at which these discourses overlap andintertwine. When, for example, Joseph Conrad condemns theatrocities of the European ivory trade in Heart of Darkness(1900) this British imperialist writer who has beenjustifiably accused by Chinua Achebe of being a“thoroughgoing racist” (Achebe, 1988, p. 11) is at the sametime actually portraying Kurtz and Marlow in a manner whichin many respects runs parallel to Achebe’s vision ofimperialism in his novel, Things Fall Apart (1958). Ininterpreting these two narratives, therefore, it becomes thejob of the student of multicultural literature todeconstruct images of Africans4 and their oppressors bycomparing (or as Said terms it, by “counterpointing”5)therepresentations of each group in both of these works.Said’s method, then, involves expanding “the overlappingcommunity between metropolitan and formerly colonizedsocieties. By looking at the different experiencescontrapuntally, as making up a set of what [he calls]intertwined and overlapping histories [Said formulates] an4alternative both to a politics of blame and to the even moredestructive politics of confrontation and hostility” (1993,p. 18).As he considers the ways in which schooling helps toperpetuate the static notion of identity, Said observes thatstudents need to spend less time learning to pursuenationalistic interests and more time studying how states,groups, and individuals interact productively:We are all taught to venerate our nations and admireour traditions: we are taught to pursue their interestswith toughness and in disregard for other societies. Anew and in [Said’s] opinion appalling tribalism isfracturing societies, separating peoples, promotinggreed, bloody conflict and uninteresting assertions ofminor ethnic or group particularity. Little time isspent not so much in ‘learning about other cultures’ —the phrase has an inane vagueness to it — but instudying the map of interactions, the actual and oftenproductive traffic occurring on a day—by—day, and evenminute—by—minute basis among states, societies, groups,identities. (p. 20)Because most high school multicultural literatureprograms to date have not taken into account therelationship between cultural representations andimperialism, teachers of such courses have not developed thenecessary pedagogical strategies to enable their students toexamine the many problems of cultural difference andidentity which they encounter during their textualinvestigations.6Instead, when English teachers ofmulticultural literature courses in the past have been5confronted with what they believed to be the “essential anduniversal truths” about the people and places depicted intheir books, they have relied for their interpretations ofcultures and of multicultural literature upon suchpedagogical approaches as New Criticism, archetypalism,feminism, reader response, and antiracism.7 Thus, highschool teachers and students of Indian (Talti, 1980), Native(Grant, 1986a), Chinese (Olds, 1990), Japanese (Lightfoot,1991), and African (Stanford, 1978) literatures, forexample, have not sufficiently problematized the nature ofliterary representation in their written and oral responsesto multicultural literature. My thesis, therefore, is thatthe postcolonial conception of the high school multiculturalliterature curriculum can help students to understand, moreeffectively than can traditional conceptions, how tointerpret/deconstruct the necessarily dynamic andheterogeneous textual representations of dominant andsubaltern cultures. And it is thus my task in the followingchapters to contrast the postcolonial approach to theteaching of multicultural literature in high schools witheach of the major traditional approaches which are presentlypractised in Canada and the United States.Fortunately, several major postcolonial literarytheorists (Edward Said, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Gayatri6Spivak, Lisa Lowe, Rey Chow, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and ArnoldKrupat) have developed theories which take into account theheterogeneous nature of contemporary cultural identities asthese have formed during centuries of interaction amongdominant and subaltern cultures. From the works of theseand other theorists, then, I have derived my postcolonialconception of the high school multicultural literaturecurriculum. Virtually none of these theorists, however, hasgiven much attention to how postcolonial theory might beused in the high school classroom, so it is one of the tasksof this thesis to establish to what extent a curriculumconception normally associated with undergraduate andgraduate Commonwealth and Comparative Literature courses canbe adapted for use by teachers of adolescents.This postcolonial conception is not like manyprescriptive multicultural and antiracist projects which setout to produce in students measurable increases inmulticultural harmony and decreases in racial bigotry.Instead, the moral imperative behind postcolonial pedagogyis that teachers should conscientiously show students how todeconstruct racist (mis)representations of the Other asthese are found in the political, social, and culturaldiscourses which are inscribed within the literary texts,films, music videos, magazines, newspapers, television7shows, and computer forums through which students attempt tointerpret their world. If students are taught thepostcolönial, deconstructive reading strategies which theyneed in order to examine critically how literaryrepresentations are constructed out of multiple andconflicting discourses, then at the end of a course inmulticultural literature, even if they have not becomebetter, more tolerant citizens, they will at least have beengiven the opportunity to learn how and why raciststereotypical (mis)representations are produced andresisted. Students who become skilled at deconstructingliterary works to discover how they are traversed byimperialist and oppositional discursive practices can besaid to be multiculturally literate. To provide reading andwriting strategies with which students can attain increasedlevels of multicultural literacy is, therefore, theprincipal goal of the postcolonial conception.In order to understand how postcolonial literary theorycan enable students’ to respond to the complexities ofmulticultural literature it may be helpful to begin byexplaining the relationship between postcolonial andmulticultural literatures. Although the terms “postcolonialliterature” and “multicultural literature” bear a familyresemblance, they are not exactly synonymous. For John8Borovilos, an Ontario high school English teacher (whoseprogram I analyse in Chapter 7 of this thesis),multicultural literature comprises world literature (eithertranslated into or written in English), immigrantliterature, ethnic (or minority) literature, and Nativeliterature (1987, pp. 4-5). In other words, almost allliterature qualifies as multicultural literature under thisbroad definition.Postcolonial literature, on the other hand, has beendefined more narrowly by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths,and Helen Tiff in in their very important study ofpostcolonial literary theory, The Empire Writes Back (1989).For these theorists, postcolonial literature is “writing bythose peoples formerly colonized by Britain, though much ofwhat it deals with is of interest and relevance to countriescolonized by other European powers, such as France,Portugal, and Spain” (Ashcroft, 1989, p. 1). However, theterm, “postcolonial,” does not only refer to an historicalperiod following colonial rule in places such as India,Africa, Australia, and Canada. It has also recently come torefer to a method of literary analysis which is known as“the new cross—cultural criticism” (p. 2).The multicultural literature course which I developedand taught to OAC English (grade 13) students in Ontario9contains works by Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Native, andAfrican writers and by writers from the diasporas of thesecultural groups. I detail my reasons for selecting thesewriters’ works in subsequent chapters as I compare how thepostcolonial conception differs from traditional methods ofreading multicultural literature. Given the definitionabove of postcolonial literature, my choice of African,Indian, and Native literary works for the course can beexplained simply. For instance, the discourse of blackwriters in Africa and in Canada has obviously been affectedby European imperialism, and so any study of their workswill be enhanced by the students’ use of postcolonialreading techniques.My decision, on the other hand, to employ postcolonialreading strategies to help my students to understand Chineseand Japanese literature requires justification. The lessonslearned about the relationships between imperialism andculture in the study of postcolonial literature can beapplied to the interpretation of most world literatures ofthe past two centuries with equally fruitful results.Postcolonial critical terms identified by Ashcroft,Griffiths, and Tiff in, such as intercultural conflict,, syncreticity, ethnographic detail,intertextuality, authenticity, cultural heterogeneity, and10linguistic variance, can form the basis for analyses ofJapanese or Chinese writing in English just as effectivelyas these critical tools can be used to analyse postcolonialliterature. Thus, although works written in Japan or Chinado not technically belong to the category of postcolonialliterature, postcolonial theory has much to say about howsuch books can be interpreted. Issues of East—West culturalexchange and conflict which arise in these works can bediscussed very effectively in postcolonial terms as canmatters of Japanese and American imperialism, and of theforeign influences, both past and present, upon Chinesehistory, politics, economy, and culture. Also, how theseworks are perceived by Canadian high school students,whether or not they are of European, Chinese, or Japanesedescent, has much to do with the way British and Americanrepresentations have shaped their perceptions of Japan andChina through, for example, such movies as The Karate Kid,Taipan, The Last Emperor, and The Joy Luck Club.If students are encouraged to compare the culturalperspectives presented in books such as Joy Kogawa’sJapanese-Canadian novel, Obasan (1981), with the viewpointsof Japanese writers such as Yukio Mishima and Kobo Abe, thenthey will be better able to investigate the similarities anddifferences between these perspectives and they will also11have a better chance to question their own assumptions aboutJapanese and Japanese—Canadian people. Just as there aredifferences or gaps between the ways Japanese and Japanese—Canadian writers describe their worlds, so within thediscourse of Japanese—Canadian writers their multiculturalexperiences open up spaces where their views as members ofthe Japanese diaspora come into conflict with theirperspectives as Canadians. And in literature written inJapan the struggle between, for example, traditional andmodern discourse, or between “Eastern” and “Western”perspectives and values, opens further gaps which canprovide sites for students’ investigations intointercultural influences and conflicts.When discussing the themes of a particularmulticultural novel or short story, students can relate thevarious conflicts which arise between the discourses withina text to the parallel conflicts in other relevant fiction,newspapers, history texts, etc.. Thus, the text underdiscussion is no longer viewed as a unified and closed workof art to be appreciated only in aesthetic terms, but as acollection of opposing discourses which are connected toconflicts that extend well beyond the borders of the text.At the same time, the gaps created within literary works bythe omission or silencing of certain relevant discourses can12be filled by students using appropriate supplementarymaterials so that they can extend their discussions ofthemes and conflicts in the directions which they deem to beimportant.8One important theme of much multicultural literatureis, obviously, racism. And, because this theme is ofcentral significance to the postcolonial conception of thehigh school multicultural literature curriculum, it is,therefore, necessary that students be given the opportunityearly in such a program to problematize the notion of raceif they are to learn how to deconstruct racist discourse asthey encounter it in their texts. For instance,sociologist, Robert Miles, has argued in his book, Racism(1989), that, while the concept of “race” has been used forcenturies (with contextual variations) to privilege onegroup of people over another on the basis of racialdifference, no empirically nor philosophically justifiableclaim can be made that races are essentially different fromone another.Henry Louis Gates Jr., in his article, “Writing ‘Race’and the Difference It Makes” (1985), while sharing Miles’view that racial differences are social and politicalconstructions, also argues that the term ‘race’ hastraditionally been used to exclude non—European literature13from the canon of great literary works worthy of study inthe English curriculum.9The question of the place of texts written by the Other(be that odd metaphorical negation of the Europeandefined as African, Arabic, Chinese, Latin American,Yiddish, or female authors) in the proper study of“literature,” “Western literature,” or “comparativeliterature” has, until recently, remained an unaskedquestion, suspended or silenced by a discourse in whichthe canonical and the noncanonical stand as theultimate opposition. In much of the thinking about theproper study of literature in this century, race hasbeen an invisible quantity, a persistent yet implicitpresence. (p. 2)As Henry Giroux sees the problem of racism in educationfrom his perspective as a curriculum theorist, he believesthat it is necessary for teachers to “demonstrate that theviews we hold about race have different historical andideological weight, forged in asymmetrical relations ofpower, and that they always embody interests that shapesocial practices in particular ways” (1992a, p. 138)Postcolonial deconstructive reading strategies offerteachers and students a means of opposing racist discourseby helping them to question ethical beliefs and ethnocentricbiases in their texts, in their class discussions, and intheir interactions with the world outside the classroom.Aronowitz and Giroux argue that such reading strategies canhelp both majority and minority students to learn to14deconstruct the discourse of race through their reading ofmulticultural texts:Let’s assume that a large number of students in anEnglish class are minority students. Central toaffirming the voices of these students is the use oftexts that come out of an experience that they canrelate to and engage critically. Such texts allowthese particular students to connect with them in thecontexts of their own histories and traditions. Suchtexts also provide another language and voice by whichother students can understand how differences areconstructed, for better or worse, within the dominantcurriculum. Similarly, different texts offer allstudents forms of counter—memory that make visible whatis often unrepresentable in many English classrooms.(1991, pp. 101—102)In his attempts to develop a pedagogical theory whichwould address among other things the problematic quality ofmulticultural literary representations, Henry Giroux hascoined the phrase “border pedagogy” to focus attention on“the situated nature of knowledge, the partiality of allknowledge claims, the indeterminacy of history and theshifting, multiple and often contradictory nature ofidentity” (l992a, p. 26). Giroux believes that if studentsare encouraged to cross over the many borders which areconstructed within discourses of race, gender, class, andnation, for instance, they can eventually learn to usediverse cultural resources to fashion “new identities withinexisting configurations of power” (p. 28).15By moving back and forth across the borders whichdelimit “Occidental” and “Oriental” representations of theChinese, for instance, students can gain a new power toconstruct in their own writing more complex representationsof Chinese people and places. If they are given theopportunity to perform comparative analyses of works byChinese and non-Chinese writers, then they will be able toquestion the assumptions underlying the differences indepiction which they encounter. For Chinese—Canadian andChinese-American students, the study of writing by authorsfrom the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, andNorth American-Chinese communities can enable them toreconsider their cultural identities on the basis of therichly heterogeneous representations of their culturalheritage which these various writers offer.Again, using Giroux’s notion of border pedagogy, itbecomes clear that knowledge forms produced at the marginsof the dominant culture, such as world literatures and NorthAmerican minority literatures, “can be used to redefine thecomplex, multiple, heterogeneous realities that constitutethose relations of difference that make up the experiencesof students who often find it impossible to define theiridentities through the cultural and political codes thatcharacterize the dominant culture” (p. 32). Border pedagogy16enables these students “to engage in cultural remapping as aform of resistance” (p. 33) by causing them to then examinehow the dominant culture uses the borders of difference itconstructs to exclude and silence its Other.The heterogeneous representations of cultural identitywhich multicultural literature provides students andteachers, therefore, can help them to break downessentialist notions of self and community. Postcolonialinterpretations of such texts enable students to questionstereotypical and monocultural definitions of people and toplay deconstructively with notions of personal and culturalidentity. These investigations, however, are not intendedto be psychological exercises in the development of self—esteem, but are rather intended to help students to see howimperial hegemony has affected the ways in which they havecome to see themselves and others.In order to perform interrogations of literaryrepresentations of self, Other, and place, students need tounderstand “how subjectivities are produced withinconfigurations of knowledge and power that exist outside ofthe immediacy of one’s experience but are central to formsof self and social determination” (p. 34). The postcolonialconception of the multicultural curriculum is thereforeintended to develop students’ abilities to understand how17their identities are significantly affected by the ways inwhich they see themselves defined, for example, within thepolitical, legal, social, and religious discourses whichtraverse their literary texts:There are no unified subjects here, only students whosemultilayered and often contradictory voices andexperiences intermingle with the weight of particularhistories that will not fit easily into the masternarrative of a monolithic culture. Such borderlandsshould be seen as sites for both critical analysis andas a potential source of experimentation, creativity,and possibility. Moreover, these pedagogicalborderlands where blacks, whites, latios, and othersmeet demonstrate the importance of a multicentricperspective that allows students to recognize andanalyze how the differences within and between variousgroups can expand the potential of human life anddemocratic possibilities. (p. 34)At the same time as their students are learning to makeuse of multicentric perspectives to interpret and fashioncomplex representations of self and place and to resistreductionist and essentialist stereotypes of the Other,teachers of multicultural literature can be using thepostcolonial perspective to develop their own deepeningawareness “of the discourse of others in order to effect amore dialectical self-critical understanding of the limits,partiality, and particularity of their own politics, values,and pedagogies” (p. 34). As border—crossers, themselves,between the overlapping terrains of knowledge and power,teachers must be willing to “legitimate difference as a18basic condition for understanding the limits of one’s ownknowledge. What border pedagogy makes undeniable is therelational, constructed, and situated nature of one’s ownpolitics and personal investment” (pp. 34—35).Thus, if they hope to engage their students inmeaningful cultural criticism and self—reflection, if theywish to make their students conscious of the need to take astand as agents of social and political change, if they wishto problematize their students’ partiality as consumers andproducers of knowledge, then it is necessary for teachers aswell to make a concerted effort to situate themselves withthe Other at the margins of the dominant culture. Girouxnotes that teachers need to do this in order to acquire “asense of how the self is implicated in the construction ofOtherness” and “in order to analyze critically thepolitical, social, and cultural lineaments of their ownvalues and voices as viewed from different ideological andcultural spaces” (p. 141).A first step toward enabling students and teachers tosituate themselves within textual terrains so that they canview dominant and subaltern cultures from both the centerand the margins is to exercize what Robert Scholes calls“textual power” (1985). Scholes divides textual activitiesinto reading, interpretation, and criticism:19In reading we produce text within text; in interpretingwe produce text upon text; and in criticizing weproduce text against text. As teachers of literarytexts we have two major responsibilities. One is todevise ways for our students to perform theseproductive activities as fruitfully as possible: toproduce oral and written texts themselves in all threeof these modes of textualization: within, upon, andagainst. Our other responsibility is to assiststudents in perceiving the potent aura of codificationthat surrounds every verbal text. Our job is not toproduce “readings” for our students but to give themthe tools for producing their own. (p. 24)An echo of this orientation toward textual boundariesdeveloped by Scholes can be heard in Giroux’s discussion ofhow students can interact with dominant and subordinatetexts from different perspectives:In addition to reading different texts and refiguringthe grounds on which knowledge is produced, borderpedagogy takes up the important tasks of establishingconditions for dominant and subordinate texts to beread differently. Texts must be decentered andunderstood as historical and social constructionsmarked by the weight of a range of inherited andspecified readings. Hence texts can be read byfocussing on how different audiences might respond tothem, thus highlighting the possibilities of readingagainst, within, and outside their establishedboundaries. (1992a, p. 30)Under these circumstances, there can be no ultimatelyauthoritative interpretation of a text, but manycontradictory and conflicting readings of it which depend,in part, upon the subject positions adopted by its readers.Within the reading paradigms of Scholes and Giroux studentsexperience pleasure in the activities of identifying with,20playing with, and fighting with the discourses which informparticular works of literature.The degree of students’ engagement with issues such asracism will also be determined, of course, by theirteacher’s ideological orientation toward multiculturaleducation policies and practices. As Giroux has observed,the discourse of multicultural education has generallyfailed to connect discussions of race with “the widerdiscourse of power and powerlessness”:Missing here is any attempt to either critique forms ofEuropean and American culture that situate differencein structures of domination or reconstruct a discourseof race and ethnicity in a theory of difference thathighlights questions of equality, justice, and libertyas part of an ongoing democratic struggle.Multiculturalism is generally about Otherness, but iswritten in ways in which the dominating aspects ofwhite culture are not called into question and theoppositional potential of difference as a cite ofstruggle is muted. (p. 117)If, for instance, a Chinese—Canadian student were toperform a postcolonial interpretation of works such as SkyLee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990) (set in Vancouver’sChinese community) and Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (1989)(which takes place both in China and in San Francisco’sChinatown), she might ask the question, “How are the peopleand places described in these books related to my own life?”Although she would probably have been encouraged to ask thissame question had her teacher been a multiculturalist using21a traditional reader—response pedagogy, as the studentwrites her postcolonial response she can learn that it ispossible to play deconstructively with the notions of selfand place which she discovers in these texts instead ofattempting to respond as a unified subject appreciatinguniversal truths about an essential Chinese culture. To acertain extent she might feel that the writers’constructions of the Chinese immigrant experience are “true”representations of her own experience. At the same time,however, her teacher could encourage her to consider that,as cultural texts, the books she is reading have beenfashioned in relation to other inscriptions of the Chineseexperience by, for example, British, Taiwanese, and HongKongese writers. Thus, Sky Lee’s and Amy Tan’s artisticproduction would be seen to contain a variety of political,economic, historical, and social values which are in someways reactions against and in other ways reproductions ofthe values underlying other textual inscriptions of the“Chinese experience.” By using literary texts from theChinese diaspora to help her to determine her culturalidentity, this Chinese—Canadian student can construct herown working definition of herself, while, at the same time,she can recognize some of the intertextual and institutional22forces which must necessarily enrich and complicate thisdefinition. 10As I shall be explaining in detail in Chapter 2, thepostcolonial theory of literary representation hasappropriated many of its strategies from the poststructuraldiscourse theories of Foucault and Derrida. However, whiledeconstructive reading strategies are proving useful tocontemporary postcolonial theorists, the desire to privilegethe margins over the centre, to question claims ofauthenticity, and to resist essentialism were all part ofthe postcolonial approach to abrogating monolithicrepresentations of Europe and its Others and toappropriating the English language for local oppositionaluses long before poststructuralism became part of mainstreamliterary theory. So, in the following examples ofapplications of the postcolonial theory of representation,while poststructuralism has obviously played a part in theformulation of some of these interpretive strategies, theimpetus to problematize literary representations of self,Other, and place originates in the subalterns’ desire toresist the dominant culture’s (mis)representations of theOther. And, while the postcolonial oppositional stanceagainst an imperialist oppressor is similar to neo-Marxiststruggles against racism and to feminist resistance to23patriarchal domination, because postcolonialism seessubjects, cultures, and literary works as heterogeneous andmultivocal constructions, as I argue in Chapters 5 and 7,the interpretations of multicultural texts which thepostcolonial theory of representation can produce are richerand more complex than those of traditional feminist andantiracist literary criticism.As Cornel West describes the social text within whichthe black diaspora “struggles for identity, dignity (selfconfidence, self—respect, self—esteem) and materialresources” it is one in which blacks experience a relativelack of power “to represent themselves to themselves andothers as complex human beings, and thereby to contest thebombardment of negative degrading stereotypes put forward bywhite supremacist ideologies” (1990, p. 27).But West then argues that the solution to this problemis not simply “access to representation in order to producepositive images of homogeneous communities” nor merely thecontestation of stereotypes. Rather, “Black culturalworkers must constitute and sustain discursive andinstitutional networks that deconstruct earlier modern Blackstrategies of identity formation, demystify powerrelations.., and construct more multi—valent and multidimensional responses that articulate the complexity and24diversity of Black practices in the modern and postmodernworld” (p. 29).In agreement with West, then, the postcolonial approachto the multicultural literature curriculum would encouragestudents to think of themselves as “cultural workers” whosetask it is to deconstruct and reconstruct the “social text”within which we are all caught. At the same time they wouldbe helped to recognize that the cultural politics ofdifference in which they are engaged “affirms the perennialquest for the precious ideals of individuality and democracyby digging deep in the depths of human particularities andsocial specificities in order to construct new kinds ofconnections, affinities and communities across empire,nation, region, race, gender, age, and sexual orientation”(p. 35)This conception validates the rights and experiences ofindividual students while helping them to see that they arenot alone in their struggles against racial oppression andin their desire to be valued members of both the local andglobal communities. For the Chinese Canadian student who istrying to find a part of her identity in such works asDisaDpearing Moon Cafe and The Joy Luck Club, by criticallyreading the works of Lee and Tan, for instance, she is alsoreading her world and working to determine her rights within25it. In other words, postcolonial critical strategies canhelp her to enjoy the exploration of the complex web ofbinary oppositions within and between texts, while, at thesame time, they can provide her with some of the tools whichshe can use to deconstruct and reconstruct her personal andcommunal identities. When dominant or minority culturalrepresentations of Chinese Canadians do not accord with herown developing view of this community, she should be giventhe opportunity to fight back through her postcolonialinvestigations into the various literary representations,both positive and negative, of Chinese people and of theplaces where they live.The postcolonial theory of representation is useddifferently by various theorists, but a common feature oftheir analyses of Western portrayals of people of colour isto deconstruct the stereotypes which occur in these works.They accomplish these deconstructions by showing how manyWestern writers employ stereotypes to satisfy the dominantculture’s need to define its Others as inferior to whites.To illustrate how a sampling of postcolonial critics employthe theory of representation, I now offer an introductoryglimpse at a few of their deconstructions of Westerndepictions of the Other.26Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) was one of the firstpostcolonial studies to reveal how Western discourse hascreated the idea of the “Oriental” as inferior. Forcenturies European and North American scholars have writtengovernment and newspaper reports, novels and short stories,translations of Oriental fiction, linguistic, historical,religious, philosophical, anthropological and geographicalstudies about Middle and Far Eastern cultures. But, whenthe values underlying this vast body of scholarship aredeconstructed by Said, he reveals that these Orientalist“texts can create not only knowledge but also the veryreality they appear to describe. In time such knowledge andreality produce a tradition, or what Michel Foucault calls adiscourse, whose material presence or weight, not theoriginality of a given author is really responsible for thetexts produced out of it” (p. 94). The Orientalist attitudein general shares “with magic and with mythology the self-containing, self-reinforcing character of a closed system,in which objects are what they are because they are whatthey are, for once, for all time, for ontological reasonsthat no empirical material can either dislodge or alter” (p.70).Out of the Orientalists’ quest to discover the.essential Chinese, or Egyptian, or Indian mentality came a27plethora of stereotypes to which Westerners subsequentlyexpected these peoples to conform. Jonathan Spence, in hisanalysis of twentieth-century Western fictional depictionsof China and the Chinese, has observed that Westerners “donot understand China and so we constantly invent it; andwhat we think we know is constantly disproved” (1990, p.100). One example analysed by Spence is James Clavell’sTaipan (1966). He claims that Western readers prefer toread novels in which the protagonist, the narrator and someof the other characters as well are Western, so that theycan use the dialogue and observations of the individuals inorder to get their bearings. Eurasian characters also oftenplay useful roles in such fiction as intermediaries betweenEast and West.Spence identifies specific genres which, he feels, helpto “illuminate our own history” more than they enableWesterners to understand the Chinese. “Six [such genres]are apparent: first, fictions which deal with the Chinesewithin China; secondly, those in which Westerners withinChina are the focus; thirdly, the world of overseas Chinese;fourthly, the uses made of China as a focus for politicalstatements; fifthly, the fictional value of scholars inChina; and finally, the possibilities of what might becalled ‘internal’ Chinas, in which the country itself begins28to fade into another mode of discourse” (pp. 100-101). Ifstudents become aware of how each of these genres(mis) represent the Chinese from Eurocentric perspectives,then they will be better able to deconstruct such texts asthey supplement them with various Chinese representations oftheir culture and people.Much as Spence has done with his analysis of novelsabout China by the British, Renee E. Tajima points out inher article, “Lotus Blossoms Don’t Bleed” (1989), that theAmerican movie industry has also perpetuated stereotypical(mis)representations of Asians.[Images of Asian women] have remained consistentlysimplistic and inaccurate during the sixty years oflargely forgettable screen appearances. There are twobasic types: the Lotus Blossom Baby (a.k.a. China Doll,Geisha Girl, shy Polynesian beauty), and the DragonLady (Fu Manchu’s various female relations,prostitutes, devious madames). There is little inbetween, although experts may differ as to whetherSuzie Wong belongs to the race-blind “hooker with aheart of gold” category, or deserves one all of herown.11 (p. 309)By deconstructing such Orientalist stereotypes,therefore, high school students can come to see how literaryrepresentations of the Other have provided Western writerswith endless opportunities to (mis)represent the majority ofthe world’s population as devious, dangerous, and sub—human.Marianna Torgovnick has described many stereotypical(mis)representations of the Other in her book, Gone29Primitive (1990). Whether dominant culture depictions of“primitive” societies are in the form of ethnographies byNead and Malinowski or of novels by Conrad and Burroughs,these attempts to capture the Other on celluloid or on theprinted page often tell us more about the Westerners’ needto subjugate an exotic and savage Other than they tell usabout the “essential” qualities of the people they claim toportray. Torgovnick contends that “the word primitive —with its aura of unchangeability, voicelessness, mystery,and difference from the West — has come to be understood asproblematic” (p. 20). “For Euro—Americans, then, to studythe primitive brings us always back to ourselves, which wereveal in the act of defining the Other” (p. 11).Torgovnick clearly formulates an important aspect of theproblem which is central to my own thesis when she remarksthat “our attitudes shape representations of the primitive;those representations shape us and our children” (p. 14).Torgovnick argues that the Western interest in theprimitive is based upon “the archaic and evolutionistmeanings of the word as the ‘original’ or ‘natural’ state ofthings” (p. 46). Explorations of representations of theprimitive are therefore thought to produce explanations ofthe origins of human nature and social organization:30The belief that primitive societies reveal origins ornatural order depends on an ethnocentric sense ofexisting primitive societies as outside of linear time,and on a corresponding assumption that primitivesocieties exist in an eternal present which mirrors thepast of Western civilization. This temporal illusionhas been among the most persistent aspects ofprimitivism in the West - both in high culture and inpopular culture, like the Tarzan novels (p. 46).Christopher Miller (1990) makes the point when heexamines French African literature, whether written bywhites or blacks, that it is inscribed in the language ofthe dominant culture for consumption primarily back inFrance, and that its content relies in part on observationsby white anthropologists in the region. Thus, in order to’make their books attractive to European and North Americanreaders, black writers sometimes find themselves dealing inthe same commodities and stereotypes that white writers haveused to represent Africans in literature.One reason for this seeming paradox can be found inTrinh T. Minh-ha’s analysis of the predicament ofethnographers. Trinh observes that anthropologists oftenfind themselves attempting to be both insiders and outsidersof a culture at the same time, and, thus, she inadvertentlyhighlights the dilemma which is faced as well by writers andstudents of multicultural literature:The injunction to see things from the native’s point ofview speaks for a definite ideology of truth andauthenticity; it lies at the center of every polemicaldiscussion on ‘reality’ in its relation to ‘beauty’ and31‘truth.’ To raise the question of representing theOther is, therefore, to reopen endlessly thefundamental issue of science and art; documentary andfiction; objectivity and subjectivity; universal andpersonal; masculine and feminine; outsider and insider.(1991, p. 65)It follows from Trinh’s insights, then, that the selveswhich writers of multicultural literature wish to fashion intheir fiction cannot be seen from the inside and the outsidesimultaneously. Thus students and teachers need to findnew ways of understanding what Trinh terms the “hyphenatedself,” or the self caught between worlds.Salman Rushdie discusses the problems of being ahyphenated self in his article, “Imaginary Homelands”:England’s Indian writers are by no means all the sametype of animal. Some of us, for instance, arePakistani. Others Bangladeshi. Others West, or East,or even South African. And V.S. Naipaul, by now, issomething else entirely. This word Indian is gettingto be a pretty scattered concept. . .To be an Indianwriter in this society is to face, every day, problemsof definition. What does it mean to be ‘Indian’outside India? How can culture be preserved withoutbecoming ossified? How should we discuss the need forchange within ourselves and our community withoutseeming to play into the hands of our racial enemies?What are the consequences, both spiritual andpractical, of refusing to make any concessions toWestern ideas and practices? What are the consequencesof embracing those ideas and practices and turning awayfrom the ones that came here with us? (1991, P. 16-18)Professional writers of multicultural literature suchas Rushdie, who live and work in the cultural space betweenworlds, can provide useful models for students’ attempts todefine self and place. Like Rushdie, many Canadian students32are hyphenated selves. For instance, those who have arrivedin Canada recently from countries such as Taiwan, Japan,Hong Kong, Korea, and India are already grappling with theproblems of the hyphenated self and of racial tension evenbefore they enter an English classroom. Like Rushdie’sexpatriate Indian writers, these students are caught betweenlanguages, homelands, and cultures. Thus, they can perhapsappreciate to a limited extent the complex dilemma thatwriters of multicultural literature face when attempting tocommunicate the features of one world to the inhabitants ofanother.In deconstructing literary representations of place,one of the most pervasive gaps which students can look forwithin the discourses of multicultural texts is “that whichopens between the experience of a place and the languageavailable to describe it” (Ashcroft, 1989, p. 9) . Inpostcolonial texts this gap is associated with the crisis ofidentity which develops between self and place as a resultof the conditions of imperial oppression. For instance,because slaves were separated from their families and fromothers who spoke their language, and then forced, instead,to speak English in order to survive, the new Englishes suchas Creole which they developed did not adequately connectthem with their African past or with the strange new land33which they came to inhabitJ2 When slaves were taken acrossthe Atlantic to work on plantations, required to practiceChristianity, and denied opportunities to enjoy the powerand status that could only be achieved by those with fullmembership within the dominant white society, they losttheir feelings of connectedness to their homeland and couldonly express their relationship to their masters’ worldthrough their masters’ language.Similarly, when Native children in Canada were takenaway from their parents at a young age and forced to live inresidential schools where they were required to speak onlyEnglish, their identities, their connections to theirhomeland, and their understanding of the culture of theirancestors were shattered as they were punished for using theNative language with which they might have been able tomaintain these connections. The feelings of dislocation ordisplacement which slaves, indigenous peoples, indenturedworkers, and immigrants have felt is often reflected intheir use of language (Ashcroft, p. 9). And the attempts ofwriters of multicultural literature to depict place mustnecessarily reflect the struggles between the StandardEnglish usage of the imperial centre and the variousmarginal forms of English such as Creole in the Carribeanthrough which the subaltern attempts to speak by34appropriating and changing the masters’ language to betterexpress their views of themselves and their world.A number of critical models have been employed bypostcolonial theorists in order to categorize and explainthe connections between literary works and the places whichthey are attempting to represent. Ashcroft, Griffiths, andTiff in have identified four such models:First, ‘national’ or regional models, which emphasizethe distinctive features of the particular national orregional culture; second, race—based models whichidentify certain shared characteristics across variousnational literatures, such as the common racialinheritance in literatures of the African diasporaaddressed by the ‘Black writing’ model; third,comparative models of varying complexity which seek toaccount for particular linguistic, historical, andcultural features across two or more postcolonialliteratures; fourth, more comprehensive comparativemodels which argue for features such as hybridity andsyncreticity as constitutive elements of postcolonialliteratures (syncretism is the process by whichpreviously distinct linguistic categories, and, byextension, cultural formations, merge into a single newform). (1989, p. 15)Regardless of which of these models the students employin their analyses, the postcolonial theory of representationrequires students to interrogate the various values systemsthat have informed the constructions of people and places tobe found in their texts:[Representations) are always produced within culturallimits and theoretical borders, and as such arenecessarily implicated in particular economies oftruth, value, and power. In relation to these largeraxes of power in which all representations are35embedded, it is necessary to remind the student: Whoseinterests are being served by the representations inquestion? Within a given set of representations, whospeaks, for whom, and under what conditions? Where canwe situate such representations ethically andpolitically with respect to questions of social justiceand human freedom? What moral, ethical, andideological principles structure our reactions to suchrepresentations? (Giroux, 1992a, p. 219)Postcolonial deconstructions of literaryrepresentations of place can help students to open up theborders of their imaginations and to confront thestereotypical simplifications and exaggerations whichwriters sometimes employ in the construction of fictiveworlds. Stephen Gray, in his “Sense of Place in the NewLiteratures in English” (1986), observes that setting orplace is perhaps the most important distinguishing featureof multicultural literature. Gray describes four models ofa “sense of place” in world literature:1) verbal safariing - this type of writing provides thearmchair traveller with the flavor, the adventures, and theexotic novelty of “other” places, often reinforcing ratherthan overcoming racist stereotypes,2) the foreign land as home — writers who have lived in a“foreign land” long enough to consider it home often rejectthe phase one depictions of their place and wish to see thelandscape as do their indigenous peers,363) indigenous writers fight back - these descriptions of theancestral landscape deal with the issues and effects ofoppressIon and the contingent problems of recovering dignityand human values,4) multicultural representation — the coexistence of two ormore cultures in the same place is reflected in theinfluences of these cultures on the writers’ representationsof their land.These models of the types of postcolonial literatureand of various senses of place can help students andteachers to problematize the, representation of place intheir responses to multicultural literature. As studentscompare representations of the same place by differentwriters, they will learn how to avoid thinking about peopleand their worlds in stereotypical terms. They will alsolearn that we can only know a place from our biasedperspectives. The students’ notions of a particular placeare not, therefore, the unmediated depictions of a realland, but are composite fictive constructions based, inpart, upon their readings of various writers’ images of thatplace.When I claim that multicultural literature can givestudents a sense of place for the countries from which theirtexts derive, then, I am not suggesting that authors could37ever simply (re)present to us in words a place’s underlyingpresence or reality. In other words, their writing cannotbe a clear reflection of their world. Writers ofmulticultural fiction are obviously aware that their worksexist in relation to religious and national mythologies,generic conventions, political tropes, etc. Therefore, theycan use the rhetorical tools of their trade to fortifydominant culture discourse or to dismantle it. James Sneadseems to be in accord with this point as he considers theending of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958):Things Fall Apart expropriates and pre-empts (albeitonly in fiction) the written form in which the Englishlanguage has assaulted an unwritten Ibo reality. Theironic ending, in which the district commissionerdecides to capture the entire tale in ‘the book whichhe planned to write [The Pacification of the PrimitiveTribes of the Lower Niger]’ recapitulates the ongoingprocess of cultural interpretation and redefinitionwhich typically worked to the detriment of blacks...Yet it is Achebe who, through writing Things FallApart, pre-empts an attempted white usurpation of hisstory and his culture, trapping the ‘official version’within a more sympathetic history. (1990, p. 242)Thus, Achebe uses the English language to insert hisIbo view of the world into the dominant white colonialdiscourse in order to cause a disruption of its historicalmetanarrative with his oppositional supplement. Whether awriter is consciously subverting the dominant culture’sdiscourse through oppositional supplementation (as doesAchebe) or, conversely, is representing the subaltern38negatively to validate the dominant group’s authority, theact of (re)presentation is problematic for postcolonialcritics and, therefore, a potentially useful starting pointfor students’ critical analyses of multicultural literature.W.J.T. Mitchell describes the problem of the gap betweenliterary depictions and the reality which they are intendedto reflect in this way. “Every representation exacts somecost, in the form of lost immediacy, presence, or truth, inthe form of a gap between intention and realization,original and copy” (1990, p. 21). Therefore, writers whoclaim to be holding the mirror up to nature, to be capturingthe essence of a place and its people, can be shown by thehigh school literature student to be constructors ofcultural products which are no more transparently reflectiveof a supposed reality outside the text than are suchpurposely self—deconstructing meta—fictions as SalmanRushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1980).It is not the place in itself which should be theobject of study when students attempt to deconstruct andreconstruct a sense of place, but the problematic attemptsof the writer to capture that place in the web ofintertextuality that should be of interest in themulticultural literature class. This web of intertextualityis not merely a literary invention. Rather, it involves all39types of texts, including the political, religious,economic, and social. As Gayatri Spivak reminds us,effective postcolonial teaching of multicultural literature“should slide without a sense of rupture into an active andinvolved reading of the social text within which the studentand teacher of literature are caught” (1985a, p. 34). ForSpivak the social text comprises not only the socialconstraints within a classroom which tend to silencemarginalized students, but it is to be found as well in thesocietal discourses which extend well beyond the walls ofthe classroom and which shape both literary and pedagogicaldiscursive practices.This discussion of representations of place brings usback to the point which I made at the beginning of thechapter that imperialism at its most fundamental levelconcerns the struggle over land. At the cultural level,however, imperialism involves a battle over whose places arebeing represented by whom and for what political purposes.It is impossible, therefore, to discuss how traces of theimperialist enterprise can be deconstructed within thevarious discourses of multicultural literature withoutacknowledging the political problematics of such literaryinvestigations. Thus, I turn now to a discussion of thepolitical dimensions of the postcolonial curriculum40conception, by first attempting to explain some of the keyterms of deconstructive reading strategy, and then, inparticular, discussing the central controversy in mypostcolonial conception which is how deconstruction is to beappropriated for ethnocritical purposes.Notes1. “Imperialism,” for Said, t the practice, the theory,and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center rulinga distant territory; ‘colonialism,’ which is almost always aconsequence of imperialism, is the implanting of settlementson distant territory” (1993, p. 9).2. For the term, “culture,” Said designates two definitionsin particular. First, culture “means all those practices,like the arts of description, communication, andrepresentation, that have relative autonomy from theeconomic, social, and political realms” (1993, p. xii). Hepoints out, for example, that novels such as Robinson Crusoewhile valued principally as aesthetic objects which producepleasure in their readers, are also very “important in theformation of imperial attitudes, references, andexperiences.” Said’s second definition of culture isderived from Matthew Arnold’s. It is “a concept thatincludes a refining and elevating element, each society’sreservoir of the best that has been known and thought” (p.xii)3. Said’s notion of a comparative literature of imperialismis not to be confused with traditional Western comparativeliterary critical approaches. As he points out abouttraditional comparative criticism, “Academic work incomparative literature carried with it the notion thatEurope and the United States together were the center of theworld, not simply by virtue of their political positions,but also because their literatures were the ones most worthstudying” (1993, p. 46). In chapter 3 of this thesis Iexplain in more detail the difference between a newcomparative literature of imperialism, and traditionalEurocentric comparative literary criticism.414. As Said points out, while Conrad was intent uponexposing the evils of the imperialist ivory trade, at thesame time, he firmly believed that Africans were inferior totheir imperialist masters and therefore incapable ofachieving independence (1993, p.. 25). But at the same timeSaid argues that “by accentuating the discrepaney betweenthe official ‘idea’ of empire and the remarkablydisorienting actuality of Africa, Marlow unsettles thereader’s sense not only of the very idea of empire, but ofsomething more basic, reality itself” (p. 29). Thenarratives of empire can thus be deconstructed by insertinginto gaps like these the Other’s counternarratives.5. Said describes the contrapuntal method of analysis asfollows: “As we look back at the cultural archive, we beginto reread it not univocally, but contrapuntally, with asimultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history thatis narrated and of those other histories against which (andtogether with which) the dominating discourse acts. In thecounterpoint of western classical music, various themes playoff one another, with only a provisional privilege beinggiven to any particular one; yet in the resulting polyphonythere is concert and order, an organized interplay thatderives from the themes, not from a rigorous melodic orformal principle outside the work. In the same way, Ibelieve, we can read and interpret English novels, forexample, whose engagement (usually suppressed for the mostpart) with the West Indies or India, say, is shaped andperhaps even determined by the specific history ofcolonization, resistance, and finally native nationalism”(1993, p. 51).6. Among the teachers whose high school multiculturalliterature curricula are critiqued in this dissertation are:Felsher, 1968; Lee and Lee, 1972; Hoeveler, 1988; Davis,1989; Borovilos, 1990; Schwartz, 1990; Lucas, 1990; andTraubitz, 1991.7. The problem with encouraging students to interpretliterature as though it could provide them with clearreflections of the essence of the Chinese mind or of theuniversal features of primitiveness in various tribes of theSouthern Hemisphere is that literary depictions of Orientalor primitive cultures and peoples are not at all transparentportrayals of underlying, essential or universal truths.Instead, postcolonial theorists see texts as containingopaque representations which have been constructed withincomplex networks of power and knowledge. Thus, to view42literary depictions as revelations of static, monologiccultural identities is to perpetuate both imperialist andnationalist, racist stereotypes.8. Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiff in have identified some ofthe themes which emerge from postcolonial interi5retations ofliterature as: a) the celebration of the struggle towardsindependence, b) the dominating influence of a foreignculture on the life of contemporary postcolonial societies,C) the problematic of postcolonial identity, d) the journeyof the European interloper through an unfamiliar landscapewith a native guide, and e) exile and displacement (1989,pp. 27—29)9. More recently Anthony Appiah has also used this notionof race to explain why Western educational institutions havedefended the traditional English literary canon:“Differences among peoples, like differences amongcommunities within a single society, play a central role inour thinking about who ‘we’ are, in structuring our values,and in determining the identities through which we live. Inthe last century and a half racialism and nationalism, oftenso bound up together that one can hardly tell them apart,have played a central role in our thinking about thesedifferences, and since one of the contributions of modernnationalism has been to see literature as central tonational life, race has been central to literature and tothought about literature throughout this period” (1990a, p.287).10. Alice Chen, a social worker in Vancouver’s Chinatown,models the kind of awareness and self—respect which studentscould be encouraged to seek as they learn to reject racistdiscourse in society at large by deconstructing theassumptions underlying stereotypical representations ofpeople of colour: “I do not know kungfu. Sweet and sourpork is not my favourite dish. My family does not operate agrocery store or laundromat. I do not drive a Mercedes; nordo I own a celular phone. Furthermore, I do not know how toplease men. All the above are true, despite the fact that Iam Chinese and I come from Hong Kong... I dream of a societywhere people can be recognized for who they are and notwhich group they belong to. I dream of a society wherefriends and acquaintances will take time to know me, insteadof making assumptions about me” (Vancouver Sun, Saturday,May 25, 1991).4311. Among the examples of stereotypes of Asian womendeconstructed by Tajima is the following: “In 1985 directorMichael Cimino cloned Suzie Wong to TV news anchor ConnieChung and created another anchor, Tracy Tzu (Arianne), inthe disastrous exploitation film Year of the Dragon. In itTzu is ostensibly the only positive Asian American characterin a film that villifies the people of New York’s Chinatown.The Tzu character is a success in spite of her ethnicity.Just as she would rather eat Italian than Chinese, she’drather sleep with white men than Chinese men. (She isultimately raped by three “Chinese boys.”) Neither does shebat an eye at the barrage of racial slurs fired off by herlover, lead Stanley White, the Vietnam vet and New York Citycop played by Mickey Rourke” (1989, 313).12. Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin (1989) make thefollowing distinctions between English and the varieties ofOther Englishes: “In order to focus on the complex ways inwhich the English language has been used in these societies,and to indicate their own sense of difference, wedistinguish in this account between the ‘standard’ BritishEnglish inherited from the empire and the english which thelanguage has become in postcolonial countries. ThoughBritish Imperialism resulted in the spread of a language,English, across the globe, the english of Jamaicans is notthe english of Canadians, Maoris, or Kenyans. We need todistinguish between what is proposed as a standard code,English (the language of the erstwhile imperial centre), andthe linguistic code, english, which has been transformed andsubverted into several distinctive varieties throughout theworld” (p. 8).44Chapter 2Postcolonialism and DeconstructionDeconstruction has enabled postcolonial theorists toperform some very interesting and important critiques of thetraditional English literary canon by drawing the reader’sattention to the traces of imperialism that form fissures ordiscursive inconsistencies within such texts as Heart ofDarkness (1900) and A Passage to India (1924). Thus, whenpostcolonial critics wish to dismantle imperialistdiscourse, deconstruction proves to be a powerful method ofanalysis. Deconstruction finds its most practicalapplication and assumes its most readily digestible shapefor students when they can compare the works of imperialistand postcolonial writers to see how representations ofempire and its Others differ when dominant and subalterndiscourses traverse the novels of a Joseph Conrad on the onehand and a Chinua Achebe on the other. I hasten to add,however, that it is neither necessary, nor desirable, toburden high school students with a thorough knowledge ofdeconstructive theory and terminology in order for them toperform effective postcolonial readings. Nor, it should berecognized, have high school teachers ever required theirstudents to wade through the terminology of Richards’s45Practical Criticism (1929) or Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism(1957) in order to perform a basic New Critical orarchetypal analysis. Nevertheless, some deconstructiveterms require explanation in this chapter if teachers are toappreciate the ways in which postcolonial theory hasappropriated deconstructive reading strategies. And, at thesame time, some cautions about the problematic union ofdeconstruction and postcolonialism must be mentioned becausenot all postcolonial theorists are happy with the marriagebetween these two approaches to cultural and literarycriticism.It is necessary, therefore, to begin by clarifying someof the broader theoretical ramifications of my remark inChapter 1 that the student using postcolonial readingstrategies should be encouraged to “play deconstructivelywith the notions of self and place” which she discovers inher texts. In that case, for instance, I was using theterm, deconstruction, as it has been appropriated bypostcolonial theorists from the work of poststructuralphilosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.Although I demonstrate throughout the rest of this thesishow deconstructive terminology has come to be employed bypostcolonial theorists, because this appropriation isperhaps the most controversial feature of my conception, and46because I plan in this chapter to deal with the controversyin some detail, I think it is necessary to discuss somemeanings of a few key deconstructive terms at this point andto explain how they are being used by border pedagogues andpostcolonial theorists. The works of Foucault and Derridaemploy many technical philosophical terms and phrases suchas “differance,” “binary opposition,” “reversal,”“supplementation,” and “intertextuality.” I begin,therefore, by attempting to show how these terms functionwithin the context of postcolonial theory.Perhaps the most important of the deconstructive termsto be appropriated by postcolonial theorists has beenJacques Derrida’s notion of differance.’ In his text,Margins of Philosophy (1982), Derrida devotes an entirechapter to analysing this term. He purposely chooses toproblematize, rather than to define differance, because hedoes not want the term to be considered a word at all butrather a spatial/temporal marker which readers might usuallyidentify with words such as difference and deferral. Theletter, a, in differance, is intended to remind the readerthat “differance is literally neither a word nor a concept”(p. 3). Differance sounds like the French word, diffe’rence,but the addition of the letter, a, disqualifies it fromserving as a “real” word, and, therefore, enables it to47illustrate instead how all words gain their meaning inrelation to other words rather than in reference to ametaphysical presence outside of language such as one ofPlato’s ideal forms, for example.Derrida credits Ferdinand de Saussure, in his Course inGeneral Linguistics (1959), with first drawing the attentionof linguists and semiologists to the fact that in languagethere are only differences:Even more important: a difference generally impliespositive terms between which the difference is set up;but in language there are only differences withoutpositive terms. Whether we take the signified or thesignifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds thatexisted before the linguistic system, but onlyconceptual and phonic differences that have issued fromthe system. The idea or phonic substance that a signcontains is of less importance than the other signsthat surround it. (Saussure, p. 120)From Saussure’s starting point Derrida then proceeds toargue that “essentially and lawfully, every concept isinscribed in a chain or in a system within which it refersto the other, to other concepts, by means of the systematicplay of differences” (1982, p. 11), but that “differences,thus, are ‘produced’— deferred — by differance” (p. 14).Differance, therefore, sensitizes the deconstructivereader/writer to the tendency of words to disseminate theirmeanings throughout the chain of signification. Thepolysemic nature of language is revealed through the play of48differance, in which a word gains its constantly shiftingmeanings in relation to other words, rather than throughreference to some tangible substance beyond itself, or tosome transcendental signified for which it is considered tobe the transparent signifier.When Derrida, therefore, performs one of hisdeconstructions of a word as it is used within itsdiscursive terrain, he employs the differentiation anddeferral of the word’s meanings to call into question itsreferential status. One such use of differance by Derridashould be of particular interest to teachers of Native andAfrican literatures, for instance, because of theinterpretations of oral traditions which it enables studentsof multicultural literature to attempt. In bothGrammatology (1974, pp. 97—140) and Writing and Difference(1978, pp. 278—293), when Derrida observes thatanthropologist, Claude Levi—Strauss, like Rousseau and Platobefore him, has privileged spoken over written language, heis deconstructing the claim that spoken language is morenatural than written language. In his study of theNambikwara, for instance, Levi—Strauss argues that theseNatives, who did not have a written language before contactwith Western civilization, were, therefore, more directly intouch with their natural origins than are Westerners.49Derrida deconstructs this phonocentric perspective byarguing that all language, whether written or spoken, is akind of writing or inscription, and that the attempt todifferentiate between societies which do and do not have thetechnical ability to put pen to parchment has in the case ofLevi—Strauss served as a false foundation for his attemptsto label the Nambikwara as innocent and natural while hesees Westerners as corrupt and cultured.At the same time, however, Rousseau, Levi—Strauss, andDerrida are in agreement that writing is inherently violent,as it accentuates differences between people and therebyprovides opportunities for prejudice and exclusion.However, where Rousseau and Levi—Strauss see the violence asoriginating in the writing of Western civilization, Derridapoints out that all people write (in his broader definitionof the term as arche—ecriture) and that Levi—Strauss isbeing ethnocentric by claiming that the Nabikwara arenecessarily different from Westerners simply because theyhave not become writers of books.2Thus, as Derrida argues, the assumption thatfundamental differences exist between oral and writtenlanguage (a belief which has served as a cornerstone for theedifices of many anthropological, historical, and literaryinvestigations into cultural differences) can now be called50into question by students of multicultural literature asthey play deconstructively with the texts of various oraltraditiOns and mythologies, and with the traces of thesetraditional forms of inscription in contemporary texts.Closely related to Derrida’s term, differance, is thedeconstructive notion of binary opposition. As I shallargue in more detail in Chapters 3 and 7, binary oppositionsare not mere dichotomies of the type which New Critics wouldanalyse to reveal the ambiguities and ironies in Heart ofDarkness as they search for the ultimate aestheticharmonizing or balancing, for example, of such opposites asdarkness and light or good and evil. Instead, thedeconstruction of binary oppositions involves a number ofstrategies such as placing under erasure the supposeddifferences between Conrad’s Africans and Europeans, orreversing the hierarchy of Europe/Africa to take apart thefoundations of the novel’s discursive practices andassumptions.Such deconstructions of binary oppositions can prove aninvaluable strategy for students readings of multiculturalliterature. In the European discourses of Orientalism, forexample, the privileging of the first term, Occidental, inthe opposition, Occidental/Oriental, established atheoretical foundation upon which was built an elaborate51structure of contrasts between the familiar, industrious,scientific, rational West and its exotic, lazy, mysterious,irrational, Oriental Others. The discourses of primitivismwere similarly grounded upon the opposition,civilized/primitive, those of patriarchy upon theopposition, masculine/feminine, and so on.To deconstruct any of these discourses, one strategy isto perform a “reversal” in which the second term in eachopposition now becomes the privileged one. As Foucault saysof the process of reversal which he carries out in his ownanalyses of the discourses of psychiatric and penalinstitutions, for instance: “Where, according to tradition,we think we recognise the source of discourse, theprinciples behind its flourishing and continuity in thosefactors which seem to play a positive role, such as theauthor discipline, will to truth, we must rather recognizethe negative activity of the cutting-out and rarefaction ofdiscourse” (Foucault, 1972, p. 229). Thus Foucault takesgreat pains, in his text, Madness and Civilization (1965),for instance, to show how dominant culture discourse of themedical establishment in the Age of Reason silenced thediscourses of its irrational Others. By highlighting,instead, the discourses of the “insane” such as Sade, Goya,Nietzsche, and Van Gogh, for example, and by showing us the52negative features of the institution of psychiatry duringvarious historical periods, Foucault questions thepositivist assumptions of its master narrative.Reversals help us to recognize, then, how, in thediscourses of psychiatry, Orientalism, primitivism, andpatriarchy, the formerly valorized terms, sane, Occidental,civilized, and masculine, gained their referential status.The belief that white culture is “more civilized” than blackculture, for example, can be deconstructed by encouragingstudents to study how the Western discourses of primitivismhave systematically “occulted” or, in other words, ignoredthe traditions of mythology, art, music, religion, etc. thathave existed for thousands of years in countries such asNigeria and Ethiopia. As students read multiculturalliterature, therefore, they can use their knowledge of thebinary oppositions within Orientalism, primitivism, andpatriarchy to help them establish how and why imperialism’sdiscourses have attempted to silence the Other and howsubaltern cultures have then fought back with their ownoppositional discursive practices.For American postmodern literary theorist, BarbaraJohnson, deconstruction is described as “the careful teasingout of warring forces of signification within the text”(1980, p. 5). Like Johnson, Jonathan Culler (1982) points53out that, in order to perform deconstructive reversals,readers of literature, therefore, should be looking fordifferent sorts of conflict in the text. Concerning thosetextual conflicts which result from the “assymetricalopposition of value-laden hierarchy, in which one term ispromoted at the expense of the other,” Culler says that thecritic should consider whether or not the second term whichis treated as the negative or supplementary version of thefirst is not in fact the “condition of possibility of thefirst” (p. 213).In the binary opposition, nature/culture, for example,students could consider how the word, “nature,” has dependedfor much of its meaning upon its supposed differences fromthe word, “culture.” Many distinctions made in theliterature of the British Empire, for instance, between a“cultured” Prospero or Robinson Crusoe on the one hand, anda “natural” Caliban or Friday on the other, require that weaccept the basic premise that the two terms, nature andculture, are in fact polar opposites of each other. If,instead, we were to view the word, “culture,” as asupplement to the word, “nature,” then we could deconstructthe opposition by examining how our notions of culture serveas the enabling conditions for our view of nature.54Vincent Leitch offers the following example of thedeconstructive strategy of “supplementation.” Leitch arguesthat, according to the traditional accounts of many writersand philosophers, archaic man developed a need for communitywhen life’s dangers and insufficiencies removed him from hisblissful and innocent state of nature.In the evolution of man from nature into society, thelatter stage of existence is pictured as an addition tothe original happy state of nature. In other words,culture supplements nature. Before too long culturecomes to take the place of nature. Culture, then,functions as a supplement in two ways: it adds on andit substitutes. At the same time it is bothdetrimental and beneficial. (Leitch, 1983, pp. l7O)In Stephen Greenblatt’s article, “Learning to Curse:Aspects of Linguistic Colonialism in the Sixteenth Century”(1990), he observes how European accounts of New WorldNatives tended either to represent them as speakinggibberish, as though they were in a state of naturalignorance, or these narratives portrayed the Natives asbeing able to converse fluently during their initial contactwith the Europeans’ languages. As Greenblatt explains,“this illusion that the inhabitants of the New World areessentially without culture of their own is both early andremarkably persistent, even in the face of overwhelmingevidence” (p. 17). Thus, in the relationship betweenProspero, “a European whose entire source of power is his55library and {CalibanJ a savage who had no speech at allbefore the European’sarrival” (p. 23), even when Caliban isgiven the “gift of language, his nature is so debased thathe can only learn to curse” (p. 25). Culture’s supplementin the colonizers account, therefore, simultaneously provesboth beneficial and detrimental to the colonized. Studentswishing to explore the interactions between Britishimperialism and culture in canonical works such asTempest or Robinson Crusoe, therefore, could be encouragedto examine what were the assumptions and purposes behindProspero’s and Crusoe’s attempts to bring the Englishlanguage and manners to these “natural” people. They couldalso consider in these books how the supplementarydiscourses of “culture,” when they are expanded to make roomfor the play of differance, cause the reader to ask whatlanguage, values, and history Friday and Caliban were deniedin order to conform to the cultural dictates of theirEnglish captors. This recognition by students of theinequalities which the supplementary discourses of “culture”have historically imposed upon the colonized can then serveas a starting point for class discussions about similarattempts by the contemporary dominant culture to silence andoppress the “uncultured” immigrants and visible minoritymembers within their own communities.556For poststructuralists, the deconstructive readingstrategies of differance, reversal, and supplementation showhow unstable the meanings of words can be when they areconsidered within a variety of discursive practices.Similarly, the meanings of books, for border pedagogues, canno longer be established as though texts were hermeticallysealed, aesthetic objects, separated from the rest of theworld’s text by their covers, but, instead, interpretationsof literary works must take into account the ways in whichtexts and their interpretations are traversed by a varietyof discourses. By supplementing the negated or mutedaspects of a narrative with alternative versions of itspreviously silenced discourses, therefore, the student canappreciate more fully the inconsistencies and gaps which areproduced within the text’s dominant discourses. Accordingto deconstructive discourse analysis,6 then, books are notviewed as independent entities, but, instead, they arethought to be portions of a larger textual network. Ineffect, all text is, thus, intertextual in itsconstruction.7The idea that texts are inextricably interconnectedwith other texts through overlapping networks of conflictingand coalescing discourses, however, did not actuallyoriginate with poststructural theory. Jing Wang (1992)57explains, in her analysis of intertextuality among classicalChinese works such as The Journey to the West and Dreamof the Red Chamber, how intertextuality has been a featureof Chinese literary aesthetics for centuries:Although the concept of intertextuality emerges as apost—structuralist idiom in the West, it is a universalphenomenon that defines the communicative relationshipsbetween one text and another, and, particularly in thecase of age—old writing traditions, between a text andits context... For the ancient Chinese literati, theautonomy of text is indeed an alien concept. That notext escapes the confinement of its age—old literarytradition is a truism so familiar to traditionalcritics that a notion such as “intertextualrelationship” has long been taken for granted and needslittle justification. (pp. 2_3)8In his article, “Intertextuality and the DiscourseCommunity” (1986), James Porter recommends that teachers ofEnglish composition should adopt a “pedagogy ofintertextuality” (p. 41):Writing assignments should be explicitly intertextual.If we regard each written product as a stage in alarger process — the dialectic process within adiscourse community — then the individual writer’s workis part of a web, part of a community search for truthand meaning. Writing assignments might take the formof dialogue with other writers: Writing letters inresponse to articles is one kind of dialectic....Research assignments might be more community orientedrather than topic oriented; students might be asked tobecome involved in communities of researchers (Porter,1986, p. 43).In this view of intertextual analysis, therefore, whathigh school students of multicultural literature choose towrite about their texts could be shared and modified within58a discourse community comprised of teachers, communityresource people, and fellow students. Such an intertextualreading/writing strategy would help the students tounderstand that they are not reading a single literary workin isolation from its intertextual and cultural contexts.While the idea of involving students in collaborativeresponses to literature is certainly not new, thepostcolonial alternative enables students and teachers torecognize during their collaborations the heterogeneity ofthe literary works under discussion. It also helps them torecognize the plurality of the cultures from which theseworks have been constructed, and the multiculturallyconstituted subjectivity of the students who are attemptingthe responses. Intertextual reading strategies, then, helpstudents and teachers to see their texts and themselves fromintercultural rather than from essentialist perspectives.In Chapters 4 and 6 I describe, for example, how thehigh school English students whom I have studied during thepast two years formed intercultural discourse communities.These students, who were living in a British ColumbianNative reserve, in a small town in rural Ontario, in Kyoto,Japan, and in the Chinese—Canadian community of Vancouver,produced collaborative intercultural responses tomulticultural literature via e—mail on the Internet.59Concerning the methods of their reading and writingactivities, my argument is that the many electronic messageswhich the students wrote to each other afforded thempractical opportunities and strong motivations to work witheach other to respond intertextually to multicultural texts.However, while much of their writing was focused uponsharing interpretations of Chinese, Japanese, and Nativeshort stories and poems, the rest of their correspondencehad little to do with the task of collaborativelycriticizing multicultural literature. Nevertheless, all oftheir intercultural communications were useful to thestudents’ attempts at deconstructing and reconstructingrepresentations of cultures. When, for instance, theChinese—Canadian and bilingual Japanese adolescent girls andboys whom I studied discussed issues of sexualdiscrimination in the Japanese family and workplace, or whenthe Native students in British Columbia’s CoidwaterReservation chose to discuss with their key—pals in Ontarioissues of racism and cultural heritage, their messagesclearly illustrated how they came to representintertextually, within the intercultural discursive networkswhich they forged together, their views of each other’spersonal and communal identities.60In his article, “The Political Responsibility of theTeaching of Literatures” (1990), Paul Smith observes thatthe teaáhing of literature is a political act:It is an activity which, like any other teaching, takesplace in the arena of political and social relations.Evidently the function of universities, colleges, andschools within the cultures we inhabit is crucial forthe production and reproduction of social relations andpower, and thus is already highly politicized evenbefore one considers the action of the state upon theprocesses of education. Equally, it is an activitywhich takes as its object of study particulardiscourses that are and have chronically been ofconsiderable moment in the realms of ideology andculture. (p. 81)But, as Smith points out in his book, Discerning theSublect (1988), Derrida’s brand of deconstuction makes itdifficult for students and teachers to be moral andpolitical agents in their study of literature because itplaces so much emphasis upon “the crucial role ofrepresentation and the mediation of discourses inconstructing the social and in the formation ofsubjectivity” (p. 43). As Smith sees the problem,“Derrida’s view of interpretation tries to establish a kindof subjectiess process which is in all essential ways givenover to the force or forces of language. Such an attemptmust be accompanied by a thoroughgoing criticism of theoriesof the subject” (p. 49). Derrida’s view of human agencycannot be straightforwardly adapted for the purposes of any61oppositional political agenda. This is because, as Smithargues, “deconstruction requires that subjectivity beconstrued in such a manner that it cannot take responsiblityfor its interpretations, much less for the history of thespecies” (pp. 50—51):The project of a ‘decentered’ resistance must alwaystake account of the not insignificant task of relating‘plural strategies’ to plural ‘subjects.’ That is tosay, the task for both the theory and the practice ofresistance is — as it has always been — to locate andwork with the interests that both produce and delimitthe human agent’s actions. Such a project would haveno grounds on which to interrogate and understand thoseinterests if it were to adopt the Derridean ambivalencearound the question of subjectivity. (p. 51)But it is not only the controversial view ofsubjectivity which makes the appropriation of deconstructivestrategies difficult for some postcolonial critics toaccept. In the following analysis, for instance, as I referto the differences and similarities between postcolonialismand postmodernism, it will become clear that the fact thatdeconstruction and postmodernism were originally Europeantheories which were subsequently championed in the UnitedStates has caused some postcolonial theorists to identifycertain aspects of these theories as imperialist and,therefore, unacceptable. The postmodern movement obviouslyextends well beyond the realm of literary theory, andinvolves adherents not only from the world of philosophy62such as Jean—Frangois Lyotard with his desire to overthrowthe domination of totalizing structures and his “incredulitytoward metanarratives” (1984, P. xxiv), but it also involvesthe work of a wide assortment of visual artists, architects,film makers, etc. So while I am particularly concerned inthis chapter with the uncomfortable fit betweendeconstruction and postcolonialism, I am also discussinghere the extent to which deconstruction’s project as it hasextended into the realms of the postmodern is in conflictwith postcolonial theory.Helen Tiff in, in her introduction to Past the LastPost: Theorizing Post—Colonialism and Post—Modernism (1990),argues that “post—colonialism is more overtly concerned withpolitics than is post-modernism; and...[that) the post-modern (in conjunction with post—structuralism) hasexercised and is still exercising a cultural andintellectual hegemony in relation to the post-colonial worldand over postcolonial cultural productions” (p. x):Discontinuity, polyphony, parodic form, and inparticular the problematization of representation andthe fetishisation/retrieval of “difference,” take onradically different shape and direction within the twodiscourses. While post—modernism has increasinglyfetishised “difference” and “the Other,” those“Othered” by a history of European representation canonly retrieve and reconstitute a post—colonized “self”against that history wherein an awareness of“referential slippage” was inherent in colonial being.While the disappearance of “grand narratives” and the63“crisis of representation” characterise the Euro—American post—modernist mood, such expressions of“breakdown” and “crisis” instead signal promise anddecolonisational potential within post-colonialdiscourse. Pastiche and parody are not simply the newgames Europeans play, nor the most recent intellectualself-indulgence of a Europe habituated to periodic fitsof languid despair, but offer a key to destabilisationand deconstruction of a repressive European archive.Far from endlessly deferring or denying meaning, thesesame tropes function as potential decolonizingstrategies which invest (or reinvest) devalued“peripheries” with meaning. (p. x)For Tiff in, postmodernism, while it claims to besubversive of the textual “author/ity” of grand narrativeshas also managed to gain the reputation for being“internationalist” in orientation, thus rejecting narrow and“essentialist” nationalisms. Yet, as Tiff in notes, “thecultural and institutional authorization so apparentlyderived, is demonstrably grounded in European ontologies andepistemologies, and its power intimately bound up withimperialist relations — both old and new — between nationsand cultures. The post—modernist project as it operateswithin the world, thus apparently runs counter to its ownideology” (p. xi).As Stephen Slemon argues, concerning the positive rolewhich postmodernism can play for postcolonial theory, “ifthe question of representation really is grounded in a‘crisis’ within post—modern Western society under latecapitalism, in post-colonial critical discourse it64necessarily bifurcates under a dual agenda: which is tocontinue the resistance to (neo) colonialism through adeconstructive reading of its rhetoric and to retrieve andreinscribe those post-colonial social traditions that inliterature issue forth on a thematic level, and within arealist problematic, as principles of cultural identity andsurvival” (1990, p. 5) . However, like Tiff in, Slemon isalso aware that there is a sense in which the totalizingeffect of European deconstructive theory tends to dominateand silence the specific insights generated by manypostcolonial theorists, who, while living at the margins ofempire, are well situated to comment upon postcolonialtextuality. Slemon therefore believes that the“universalizing and assimilative” impulses of postmodernism,like the same impulses in modernism, tend, howeverironically, to continue “a politics of colonialist control”(p. 9):By excluding [the] post-colonial theoretical work fromthe debate, and by overlooking the cultural specificityof so many of the literary texts it has otherwise readwith reasonable accuracy, the “post-modernist”phenomenon - for all its decentering rhetoric - hasparadoxically become a centralizing institution, aWestern problematic whose project in the cross culturalsphere has become the translation of differentialliterary and social “texts” into philosophicalquestions and cultural attitudes whose grounding inWestern culture is too rarely admitted, let alonesignificantly addressed. (p. 8)65Noticing, just as Tiff in and Slemon have done, thatpostmodernism tends to be universal and international in itscontrol over contemporary literary theory, Kwame AnthonyAppiah in his article, “Is the Post- in Postmodernism thePost- in Postcolonial?” (1991), says that, “becausecontemporary culture is... transnational, postmodern cultureis global - though that emphatically does not mean that itis the culture of every person in the world” (pp. 342-343).Appiah, then provides the following distinctions betweenpostmodernism and postcolonialism:Postmodernism can be seen... as a retheorizationof the proliferation of distinctions that reflects theunderlying dynamic of cultural modernity, the need toclear oneself a space. Modernism saw the economizationof the world as the triumph of reason; postmodernismrejects that claim, allowing in the realm of theory thesame proliferation of distinctions that modernity hadbegun. (p. 346)Postcoloniality is the condition of what we mightungenerously call a comprador intelligentsia: arelatively small, Western-style, Western trained groupof writers and thinkers, who mediate the trade incultural commodities of world capitalism at theperiphery. In the West they are known through theAfrica they offer; their compatriots know them boththrough the West they present to Africa and through anAfrica they have invented for the world, for each otherand for Africa.All aspects of contemporary African cultural life- including music and some sculpture and painting, evensome writings with which the West is largely notfamiliar - have been influenced, often powerfully, bythe transition of African societies throughcolonialism, but they are not all in the relevant sensepostcolonial. For the post- in postcolonial, like thepost- in postmodern, is the post- of the space-clearinggesture I characterized earlier, and many areas of66contemporary African cultural life — what has come tobe theorized as popular culture, in particular — arenot in this way concerned with transcending, with goingbeyond, coloniality. Indeed it might be said to be amark of popular culture that its borrowings frominternational cultural forms are remarkably insensitiveto, not so much dismissive of as blind to, the issue ofneocolonialism or cultural imperialism. (p. 348)Linda Hutcheon argues that, like feminism,postcolonialism has many strong links with postmodernism.However, both postcolonialism and feminism strive to gobeyond postmodernism’s deconstruction of existingorthodoxies by establishing theories of agency which allowthem to attempt social and political action. Picking upwhere Paul Smith left us earlier with deconstruction’s viewof subjectivity, Hutcheon explains that “the current poststructuralist/post—modern challenges to the coherent,autonomous subject have to be put on hold in feminist andpost—colonialist discourses, for both must work first toassert and affirm a denied or alientated subjectivity: thoseradical post—modern challenges are in many ways the luxuryof the dominant order which can afford to challenge thatwhich it securely possesses” (1990b, p. 168).So, while I wish to make it clear that, although, inits use of deconstructive reading strategies, thepostcolonial conception of the multicultural literaturecurriculum differs from the traditional methods of literaryinterpretation which I analyse in subsequent chapters, it is67also important to note that postcolonial theorists ingeneral (e.g., Tif fin, Slemon, Appiah, Hutcheon) do notincorporate postmodern theory wholesale into theirinterpretations, but, instead, use those strategies whichsuit their local needs and their particular ethical andpolitical projects. These distinctions are especiallyimportant to the postcolonial curriculum conception becausethe efforts of immigrant students, visible minoritystudents, and Native students to understand the effects ofimperialism upon their cultural identities and histories canbe seriously undermined if they do not have the opportunityto experience their heritage from local rather than dominantculture, Eurocentric deconstructive perspectives. And forall high school students the opportunity to interpret anovel such as A Passage to India with the help of Indian aswell as British critics is as important a postcolonialreading strategy as is deconstructing the discourses in themanner of Derrida or Foucault.Throughout the dissertation I attempt to question theexisting theories which inform current practices in theteaching of multicultural literature in high schools bydeconstructing the theoretical foundations of the NewCritics, archetypalists, feminists, reader-responsetheorists, and antiracists who have, until now, provided68teachers with the pedagogical strategies they required inorder to develop their multicultural literature curricula.My own theoretical foundations as a researcher are similarto those of curriculum theorist, Henry Giroux, andpostcolonial literary theorist, Edward Said. Just as thesetwo researchers have spent much of their careers examiningthe discursive practices of cultures, so I have beenperforming my analyses of texts in order to discover how thediscourses of theorists, teachers, multicultural writers,and students represent their various cultural positions.What I have done, then, is to compare critically commonconceptions of the multicultural literature curriculum withmy postcolonial conception in order to show how thepostcolonial approach can enable students to accomplish moreinteresting and effective responses to textualrepresentations of cultures than can the curriculumapproaches which are presently practised in high schools.In my attempt to develop and justify a postcolonialconception I analysed not only literary texts, philosophicalworks, and curriculum documents, but also a variety ofstudent discourses. More specifically, the texts which Ianalyzed included teachers’ multicultural literaturecurricula, literary theorists’ interpretations of culturesand literary texts, multicultural writers works of fiction,69curriculum theorists’ analyses of issues in the area ofmulticultural and antiracist education policy and practice,and, finally, high school students’ interpretations ofcultures and literary texts.During the 1991-92 school year I worked as a researchassistant with a class of grade 10 English students inVancouver, British Columbia. Approximately 40% of thesestudents were Chinese—Canadians, and they were involved inintercultural computer—mediated communications withbilingual students of the same age in Kyoto, Japan. Then,in the 1992—93 school year, I designed a multiculturalliterature course which I taught to two classes of OAC(grade 13) English students in a rural Ontario high school.Also during the 1992-93 academic year I taught one class ofgrade 12 students who corresponded via e—mail with Nativestudents at the Coidwater Reserve near Merritt, BritishColumbia. Although I carried on many class discussions withstudents about their views concerning multiculturalliterature, my main sources of data were the various formsof writing which the students produced. For instance, myobservations about students’ intercultural collaborativeresponses to Native and Japanese literature in Chapters 4and 6 of this thesis were based principally upon the copieswhich I retained of their e-mail communications. And my70observations about the responses of the OAC students to themulticultural novels and short stories which they studiedwere based primarily upon the essays, response journals, andtests which they wrote during the course.I have attempted to view the discourses of students,teachers, and curriculum theorists from the multipleperspectives provided by postcolonial theory. While everyliterary theory contains rifts among its key advocates, theprofound differences which exist within the field ofpostcolonial theory are a function of the great variety ofcultural and theoretical perspectives which its advocatesbring to their readings, as I believe I have made clearthrough my discussion earlier in this chapter about thecomplicated marriage between postcolonialism andpostmodernism. My postcolonial conception, therefore, likethe cultural texts which it attempts to explain, isnecessarily heterogeneous in form and content.Nevertheless, I contend that it is this hetergeneity whichmakes the postcolonial conception more effective than otherapproaches to the teaching of multicultural literature.If I am correct in arguing that the postcolonialconception is better than other approaches at helpingstudents and teachers to respond effectively tomulticultural texts, then it should be possible to establish71a set of criteria by which the relative merits of eachconception can be clearly demonstrated. Thus I havedeveloped a list of three criteria for comparing thepostcolonial conception with other conceptions of themulticultural literature curriculum which I analyse in thisthesis. I state the criteria in the form of questions sothat I can then ask them repeatedly throughout thedissertation as I judge the effectiveness of each conceptionin turn.1. Critical Complexity and Sophistication - To whatextent does a given curriculum conception enablestudents to develop complexity and sophistication intheir interpretations of multicultural texts?Specifically, how well does a curricular approach helpstudents and teachers to problematize therepresentations of self, place, and Other which theyencounter in their texts?2. Intercultural Communication — How effectively does aconception enable students and teachers to cross backand forth over the imaginary borders constructedbetween worlds in order to interpret multiculturaltexts from both insider and outsider perspectives?Also, how well are the students able to communicatewith peers from other cultures in their attempts tounderstand the issues raised by their multiculturaltexts?3. Multicultural Literacy - How well does a conceptionhelp students and teachers to perceive the effects ofimperialism upon the cultures and literary texts whichthey are studying and to assess their own roles in theon—going conflicts between dominant and subalterncultural groups? As well, to what degree does acurricular approach develop the kind of literacy instudents which enables them to negotiate meaningswithin various intertextual terrains and to acknowledgethe heterogeneous and multivalent constitutions of the72subjects and cultures represented within theirmulticultural texts?The degree of complexity and sophistication which thestudents are able to achieve in their critical thinkingabout multicultural literature is the first criterion forjudging the effectiveness of the postcolonial conception incomparison with other curriculum conceptions. Of course,all literary theories claim to be able to bring about richand sensitive readings in their competent practitioners’analyses of texts. Nevertheless, the questions I raiseabout complexity and sophistication of analysis inconnection with the postcolonial curriculum conception areintended to highlight its particularly suitable strategiesfor investigating aspects of culture which are overlooked bythe reading strategies of other curricular approaches.James Clifford has described these overlooked aspectsof culture in his book, The Predicament of Culture (1988).For Clifford, the “predicament of culture” is its “of f—centeredness in a world of distinct meaning systems...[amid)the twentieth century’s unprecedented overlay oftraditions.” Cultural criticism is, thus, “perpetuallydisplaced, both regionally focused and broadly comparative,a form both of dwelling and of travel in a world where thetwo experiences are less and less distinct” (p. 9). I willbe arguing in each chapter, for instance, that, because the73postcolonial theory of representation takes into account theproblematic nature of the representations of self, place,and Other which students find in multicultural texts, theresponses which they write are necessarily going to be moresophisticated than the interpretations produced by thepractitioners of other literary theories.The second criterion for comparison is interculturalcommunication. I argue at several points in this thesisthat the ability to read the texts of other culturesinvolves the development of communications skills of a typewhich have previously received little attention in highschool English courses. While English teachers in NorthAmerica have been well aware of the need to develop clarityof expression in their students compositions, for example,and to encourage students to provide well-substantiatedpositions when they take part in classroom discussions abouttexts and issues, the idea that collaborative responses toliterature can be enhanced by intercultural communication,is still rare in high school literature classes. And theadditional notion that these collaborations can take placewith students who happen to be thousands of miles away israrer still. What I argue, then, is that we need to rethinkour model of the student as communicator so that it takesinto account the special challenges and rewards that can be74associated with intercultural communication andinterpretation. The postcolonial conception, therefore,unlike other conceptions, encourages students whoseclassmates share similar cultural backgrounds to extendtheir abilities to communicate with their peers about themeanings of texts and about the nature of cultures byenabling them to share their responses with students whohave different cultural backgrounds in distant placesthrough the use of electronic mail on international computercommunications networks.The third and most important criterion for comparingthe postcolonial conception with other conceptions of themulticultural literature curriculum is multiculturalliteracy. Unlike the type of literacy which is advocated byE. D. Hirsch in his book, Cultural Literacy (1987), themulticultural literacy which is the goal of the postcolonialconception involves the students’ developing their knowledgeof various literatures and cultures rather thanconcentrating upon learning only classics of the Westernliterary tradition.In contrast to postcolonialism’s view that all culturesare heterogeneous and that we therefore need to developmulticultural literacy in our students if they are to learnhow to read the text of their world, Edward Said75characterizes the return to Hirsch’s type of monoculturalliteracy as an attempt “to see yourself, your people,society, and tradition in their best lights” (1993, xiii):In time, culture comes to be associated, oftenaggressively, with the nation or the state; thisdifferentiates “us” from “them,” almost always withsome degree of zenophobia. Culture in this sense is asource of identity, and a rather combative one at that,as we see in recent “returns” to culture and tradition.These “returns” accompany rigorous codes ofintellectual and moral behaviour that are opposed tothe permissiveness associated with such relativelyliberal philosophies as multiculturalism and hybridity.In the formerly colonized world, these “returns” haveproduced varieties of religious and nationalistfundamentalism. (xiii)Henry Giroux points out that central to Hirsch’sconcept of literacy “is a view of culture removed from thedynamics of struggle and power” (1992a, p. 94):Hirsch’s view of culture expresses a single durablehistory and vision, one at odds with a critical notionof democracy and difference. Such a position maintainsan ideological silence, a political amnesia of sorts,regarding either how domination works in the culturalsphere or how the dialectic of cultural strugglebetween different groups over competing orders ofmeaning, experience, and history emerges within unequalrelations of power and struggle. By depoliticizing theissue of culture, Hirsch ends up with a view ofliteracy cleansed of its own complicity in producingsocial forms that create devalued others. (p. 94)Brenda Greene in her article, “A Cross—CulturalApproach to Literacy” (1988), argues that the list, whichHirsch appends to his book, of what culturally literatepeople should know “is problematic because it does not76address itself to the point that many students in ourschools come from cultures which are not represented in thecanon” (p. 45). Then she asks, “Does this list imply thatit is not valid for individuals to study values andknowledge representative of their own culture?” (p.45)In the collection of essays, Multicultural Literacy:Opening the American Mind (1988), compiled by Rick Simonsonand Scott Walker, the editors point out that, unlike E.D.Hirsch, most Americans have become “accustomed to the notionthat culture, like language, changes, and that we ought tobe sensitive to those changes” (p. xi). The followingpassage by Simonson and Walker eloquently speaks to the needfor multicultural literacy initiatives in the United States.I would simply add that most of their remarks about readersin the United States are equally applicable to students inCanada as well:The twentieth—century revolution in communications, therise and pervasiveness of mass media, and dramaticchanges in the world economy have led to a softening ofpolitical and cultural boundaries. As the world is“made smaller” and cultures become more uniform(imperialism taking on cultural as well as politicalforms), we are simultaneously brought closer togetherand suffer the destruction of individual languages,imagination, and cultural meaning. As we learn moreabout ecology and of ways to preserve nature, we shouldalso learn the great value of diversity and seek topreserve a diverse cultural heritage. Economicdevelopment has historically led the way to culturalexpansion. As the world becomes more of a singleeconomic entity, there is a corresponding need for all77citizens to have not only a fundamental understandingof their own culture (in part to conserve it), but alsoa knowledge of the cultures of the rest of the world.However, the citizens of the United States areprofoundly ignorant of world literatures, histories,mythologies, and politics. For the United States tocontinue to have cultural and economic relevance, thisinadequacy must be addressed. (p. xi-xii)In the following chapters I compare the postcolonialconception with a variety of New Critical, archetypal,feminist, reader—response, and antiracist approaches to theteaching of multicultural literature in order to suggest howeducators can improve students’ critical complexity andsophistication, intercultural communication abilities, andmulticultural literacy.In Chapter 3, after explaining some of the significantdifferences between New Criticism and deconstruction byexamining New Critical theories and curricula, I discuss howthe postcolonial discourse theory of Orientalism, firstdeveloped by Edward Said and then critiqued and adapted byJames Clifford, Lisa Lowe, Jane Miller, and Madan Sarup, canbe used to provide alternatives to New Critical readings ofsuch texts as E. N. Forster’s novel, A Passage to India. Ialso explain what Said’s comparative literary approach toimperialism means by discussing his analysis of Forster’stext. Then I conclude the chapter with an examination ofsome Ontario senior high school students’ responses to thewriting of Bharati Mukherjee and Mahasweta Devi.78In Chapter 4 I contrast archetypal literary analyseswith postcolonial critiques of the mythological elements inNative literature. Next, I consider the relationshipbetween the Native oral tradition and contemporary Nativestory telling. Then I conclude the chapter by providingexamples of some grade 12 Ontario students’ attempts toshare their perspectives on Native poetry and culture viaemail communications on the Kids from Kanata ComputerNetwork with Native students at a Reserve in BritishColumbia.Chapter 5 is devoted to examining the contrast betweenmainstream and postcolonial feminist approaches to thereading and writing of such autobiographical works as MaxineHong Kingston’s Woman Warrior (1976). A group of OACstudents’ efforts to respond to Kingston’s autobiographicalfiction are discussed in connection with feminist andpostcolonial theories about inscriptions of self. As well,their analyses of other novels by and about Chinese womenprovide opportunities to illustrate how high school studentspostcolonial feminist readings can differ from traditionalfeminist readings.In Chapter 6 I deconstruct the notions of unified selfand essential culture which Louise Rosenblatt posits in herreader—response paradigm: reader + text = poem. By79analysing how Chinese—Canadian students in Vancouver andbilingual Japanese students in Kyoto have collaborated viae—mail in order to produce their interpretations of aJapanese short story in translation, I attempt to show thatTrinh Minh-ha’s postcolonial theory of the hyphenated selfbetter explains students’ responses to multiculturalliterature than do traditional reader—response theories.The “Network Theory” of Barker & Kemp (1990) is also brieflyexamined to explain how Giroux’s desire to extend students’imaginative reach beyond the walls of the classroom can beachieved in part through the use of computer communications.In Chapter 7, after establishing the differencesbetween antiracism and other aproaches to dealing withracism in education, I attempt to illustrate how thepostcolonial theory of representation.provides a more subtleand complex method of reading multicultural literature thandoes the antiracist approach which is presently advocated inOntario high schools. I then critique the antiracist,multicultural literature textbook and program of studiesdevised by John Borovilos for the Ontario Ministry ofEducation by contrasting his conception of the curriculumwith my postcolonial conception. At the conclusion of thischapter, in order to illustrate how the postcolonial theoryof representation can be used by students to deconstruct80multicultural literature, I provide examples of OAC Englishstudents’ postcolonial interpretations of short stories andnovels written by African and African—American writers.These examples are taken from the students response journalsand independent study research projects.In the concluding chapter I argue that the principalgoal of the postcolonial curriculum conception is to developmulticultural literacy in students. I therefore explain inmore detail the differences between cultural andmulticultural literacy which I have briefly begun to addressin the present chapter. Then my brief reconsideration ofeach of the traditional conceptions discussed in previouschapters involves contrasting the ways in which thepostcolonial conception is more effective than these otherconceptions at enabling students to become multiculturallyliterate. Finally, I conclude Chapter 8 by offeringrecommendations for future theoretical and practicalresearch and curriculum projects which could extend the workbegun in this dissertation.In the process of deconstructing from a postcolonialperspective several different literary critical approaches Ihave also selected for analysis a few works from thefollowing bodies of literature: Indian, Native, Chinese,Japanese, and African. A caveat is therefore necessary at81this stage. I do not pretend to be offering a comprehensivesurvey of world and immigrant literatures in this study. Ichose to discuss a few works from a variety of literaturesbecause I wanted to emphasize the point that teachers andstudents should not make blanket generalizations about allmulticultural literature as if Japanese and Chinese works,for instance, were essentially identical. Had I beenconcerned to provide an exhaustive survey of worldliteratures, I would have been remiss in neglecting todiscuss postcolonial approaches to Latin American writerssuch as Isabel Allende, Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes,Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Luisa Valenzuela, for instance.But such a comprehensive survey was never a part of myproject.Instead, what I offer in the pages which follow is asampling of texts and approaches to illustrate my centralclaim that representations of self, Other, and place must beradically reconsidered by students and teachers frompostcolonial perspectives, rather than from traditionalliterary critical viewpoints, if students are imaginativelyto cross the cultural, political, sexual, economic, andgeographic borders which normally limit their understandingof texts and of the world.82Notes1. Sharon Crowley, in her very helpful book, A Teacher’sGuide to Deconstruction (1989), defines differance asfollows: “A pun in French, combining the meanings of theEnglish terms ‘difference’ and ‘deferring.’ Differance thenalludes to (1) the tendency of meaning to inhere in itemswhich differ from one another, and (2) the tendency oflanguage to always put off, or preclude, the discovery ofany final or authoritative interpretation of itself. In alarger sense, differance characterizes the movement of humanconsciousness and knowledge” (p. 55).And Timothy Yates (1990) provides another usefulaccount of this deconstructive strategy of differance in“Jacques Derrida: There is nothing outside of the text”(1990), as he points out that “the notion of structure is atotalizing device, within which the play of differences iscontrolled.. .Within the discovery of differance, however,the centre cannot escape play. It is no more than a newmark within a chain, referring necessarily to the marks fromwhich it is different. Structure, which cannot come aboutwithout a centre, is overrun from the inside of the text itfunctioned to contain in so far as it no longer escapes itseffects and governs from the outside” (p. 215).2. Derrida’s deconstruction of Levi—Strauss raises acrucial point which Christopher Norris addresses in thefollowing passage: “The ‘nature’ which Rousseau identifieswith a pure, unmediated speech, and Levi—Strauss with thedawn of tribal awareness, betrays a nostalgic mystique ofpresence which ignores the self—alienating character of allsocial existence. Writing again becomes the pivotal term inan argument that extends its implications to the wholeprehistory and founding institutions of society” (1982, p.40)3. The technique of “reversal,” as Foucault practices it,has been explained by David Shumway as meaning “just whatone might expect. When tradition gives us a particularinterpretation of an event or an historical development,Foucault’s strategy is to work out the implications of thereverse or opposite interpretation. The strategy ofreversal tells Foucault what to look for by pointing to thesimple existence of the other side of things. In ‘TheDiscourse on Language,’ Foucault says reversal seeks the83negative activity of discourse where traditionalphilosophers and historians have been preoccupied with itspositive role. The strategy of reversal in its broadestusage leads us to discard the assumption that human thought— which Foucault calls discourse because thought is alwaysexpressed in a particular linguistic form — is at rootrational and positive, that when it fails to be rational andpositive it is merely an aberation, a departure from itstrue nature. Foucault assumes, for example, that thoseelements that seem to hold a discourse together, thatguarantee its connection to some non—discursive reality,cannot perform these functions without also performingnegative ones that limit the discourse or rarefy it” (1989,pp. 15—16)4. Because Western society has been so willing to acceptthe truth of the nature/culture opposition, this perceivedfundamental difference between nature and culture then seemsto legitimate other parallel binary oppositions such ashealth/disease, purity/contamination, good/evil,object/representation, animality/humanity, andspeech/writing. As the structure of the nature/cultureopposition repeats itself in these other oppositions, Leitchpoints out that a temporal priority acts to distinguish “thefirst term in each pair; the second entity comes as asupplement to the first” (Leitch, 1983, p. 171).5. Sharon crowley’s concise definition of Derrida’s notionof “supplementation” is interesting for the way in which sherelates this term to his notion of differance:“Substitution’ is not a synonym for supplementation, sincethe latter term also signifies a dual process of filling upa space which was not completely occupied, as well asexpanding that space to make room for new supplements.Supplementation thus names one movement of differance. Thenotions of supplementation and differance, in fact,problematize the assumption that synonyms — names whichexactly substitute for other names — can be found inlanguage at all. Roget’s Thesaurus provides a splendidexample of the supplementary movement of language, insofaras its lists of supposedly similar terms actuallydemonstrate how words differ from one another, proliferatingnew shades of meaning in the process” (1989, p. 56).6. David Shumway has described Foucauldian discourseanalysis: “Foucault moves definitively beyond thestructuralism that would define discourse solely as a matterof the relations of key terms and the possible statements84that may be derived from them. That kind of structure isnow seen as part of a larger practice that is not merelylinguistic or intellectual, but social” (1989, p. 103).7. According to Leitch, “the text is not an autonomous orunified object, but a set of relations with other texts.Its system of language, its grammar, its lexicon, drag alongnumerous bits and pieces — traces— of history so that thetext resembles a Cultural Salvation Army Outlet withunaccountable collections of incompatible ideas, beliefs,and sources” (1983, p. 59).8. In George Landow’s book, Hypertext: The Convergence ofContemporary Critical Theory and Technology (1992), hepoints out that one way to encourage students to performcomputer—mediated intertextual investigations is to set uphypertext databanks which contain various contexts for theliterature in the core curriculum. For instance, hesuggests that in order to teach classical Chinese TangDynasty poems within their cultural contexts students shoulduse “Paul D. Kahn’s Chinese Literature web, which offersdifferent versions of the poetry of Tu Fu (712-770), rangingfrom the Chinese text, Pin-yin transcriptions, and literaltranslations to much freer ones by Kenneth Rexroth andothers. Chinese Literature also includes abundant secondarymaterials that support interpreting Tu Fu’s poetry”(p.36).9. As James Clifford points out in “Traveling Cultures”(1992), concerning the ability to interpret cultures, “everyfocus excludes; there is no politically innocent methodologyfor intercultural interpretation. Some strategy oflocalization is inevitable if significantly different waysof life are to be represented. But local in whose terms?How is significant difference politically articulated, andchallenged? Who determines where (and when) a communitydraws its lines, names its insiders and outsiders?” (p. 97)85chapter 3The New Critical ConceptionThe theoretical foundations and pedagogical techniquesof New Criticism were well established in the 1920s and1930s by literary critics and English educators such as I.A. Richards and Cleanth Brooks. By the 1950s the majorityof university English departments were encouraging theirstudents to perform New Critical close readings of texts.We might, therefore, expect that the influence of NewCriticism upon the teaching of high school English would bewaning by the 1990s with the subsequent rise ofarchetypalism, feminism, reader—response, and deconstructionin university English programs. Nevertheless, even thoughthese alternatives to New Critical pedagogy have now becomewell established in university literature courses, many highschool teachers in North America continue to rely primarilyupon the traditional close reading strategies of Richardsand Brooks when they teach literature to their students. Inthis chapter, therefore, I wish to begin my postcolonialcritique of major approaches to the multicultural literaturecurriculum with an analysis of the New Critical conception.In Terence Hawkes’s attempt to explain the ways inwhich Derrida’s deconstruction has superceded its86predecessor, New Criticism, to become what some havereferred to as the New ‘New Criticism,’ he points out that“New Criticism was itself conceived in opposition to an‘older’ criticism which, in Britain and America in the latenineteenth and early twentieth centuries, had largelyconcerned itself with material extraneous to the work underdiscussion: with the biography and psychology of its author,or with the work’s relationship to ‘literary history”(1977, p. 151—152).The New “New Criticism,” however, while one could arguethat it still requires the students to attempt closereadings of a text’s ambiguities, figurative language, andironies, does not attempt to deal with the literary work inisolation from history, economics, etc., but, instead,deconstruction requires students to recognize a work’sintertextual connections with other cultural works in orderfor them to understand how its discourses are to beinterpreted.For New Critics a literary work is an autonomous artobject, and thus it “should not be judged by reference tocriteria or considerations beyond itself. It warrantsnothing less than careful examination in and on its ownterms” (p. 152). A literary text, therefore, is not viewedas having any referential connection to a real world beyond87it, but, rather, is perceived as “the presentation andsophisticated organization of a set of complex experiencesin a verbal form. The critic’s quarry is that complexity”(p. 152):From l.A. Richards’s notion of a psychological‘complexity’ at work in poem and experience, whereby afruitful tension between opposing impulses organizesand refines them, and thus enables the reader toabstain from reductive action in either direction, toCleanth Brooks’s and William Empson’s notion of amultiplicity of meaning available in words and theirpoetic usage, whereby fruitful ambiguity maintains a‘balance’, enabling the reader to avoid a reductiveopting for single meaning, this ideological commitmentto equipoise found itself transformed into a range ofunquestioned critical presuppositions. The poem seenthus becomes self—maintaining; a ‘closed’ area, averbal icon. (p. 153)At the beginning of the New Critical movement, whenl.A. Richards was teaching at Cambridge during the l920s, hegave his English students copies of various unidentifiedpoems and had them write responses to them which he termed“protocols.” These poems and the students protocols thenbecame the material for his lectures and for his text,Practical Criticism (1929). In the years following itspublication Richards’s book became an important resource forteachers of English literature in universities and highschools throughout North America and Britain. The students’attempts to analyse various lyric poems were studied byRichards to reveal the various errors in interpretation88which the students had committed. For example, he wouldpoint out where they had experienced too sentimental or tooinhibited an emotional reaction to the poems, or where theyhad restricted their interpretations of the poetry’s meaningby offering stock responses to it such as, “I don’t likeShakespearean sonnets, I mean that form, as a rule”(Richards, 1929, p. 41):The interpretations of good readers will varyappreciably with their varied minds. No one can say,“There is only this and this in the poem and nothingmore.” There is everything there which a reader whostarts right and keeps in a balanced contact withreality can find. But minds too much subjugated totheir own fixed stock responses will find nothing new,will only enact once more pieces from their existingrepertory.(p.239-240)As David Lodge points out, Richards’s contribution tothe study of literature is that he obliged students andteachers to read the text carefully and closely and tosubstantiate their interpretations with evidence from thetext. “Though sometimes attacked as an artificial and anti—historical exercise, Practical Criticism in one form oranother has since become a staple method of teachingstudents of literature to read attentively and withdiscrimination” (1972, p. 105).While this emphasis upon attending closely to thedetails of the text, instead of concentrating upon its placein literary history or its author’s biography, did help89students and teachers to grapple with the text’s formalfeatures, as Terry Eagleton points out, this emphasis uponaesthetic form to the exclusion of other aspects oftextuality caused New Critics such as Richards to producepolitically inert readings which submitted to the statusquo:The same impulse which stirred them to insist on the‘objective’ status of the work also led them to promotea strictly ‘objective’ way of analysing it. A typicalNew Critical account of a poem offers a stringentinvestigation of its various ‘tensions’, ‘paradoxes’and ‘ambivalences’, showing how these are resolved andintegrated by its solid structure.... There were,naturally, limits to this benign pluralism: the poem,in Cleanth Brooks’s words, was a ‘unification ofattitudes into a hierarchy subordinated to a total andgoverning attitude’. Pluralism was all very well,provided that it did not violate hierarchical order;the varied contingencies of the poem’s texture could bepleasurably savoured, so long as its ruling structureremained intact. Oppositions were to be tolerated, aslong as they could finally be fused into harmony.(1983, p. 49—50)This harmonious unity or wholeness which New Criticsbelieved to be at the centre of the author’s enterprise and,therefore, the object of study for close readings of thetext, since the l950s has been questioned not only by neoMarxist critics such as Eagleton, but also by feminists andpostcolonialists who likewise feel that the text’s unity isopen to challenge from many directions.In their attempts to extend Richards’s efforts to helphis students avoid inaccuracies in their poetry analyses, W.90K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley identified two moreexcesses in the interpretative process which they encouragetheir students of English to guard against and which theytermed “the intentional fallacy” and “the affective fallacy”(Wimsatt & Beardsley, 1972, pp. 333-358). When studentstake too seriously what the author is thought to haveintended a text to mean, they run the risk of committing“the intentional fallacy,” and when students allow theiremotions to distort their readings the undisciplinedinterpretations which result suffer from “the affectivefallacy.” On the other hand Wimsatt and Beardsley argued“that a work, properly read, will always be unified by a setof preconceived tensions, as expressed in paradox and irony.In short, the New Critics assumed total coherence in a work”(Con Davis and Schleifer, 1989, p. 21). Failure toappreciate this coherence was a function of the reader’slack of objectivity, rather than of the text’s lack ofunity.Perhaps because it was easier for students to discoverthe unity of lyric poems, which are highly structured andcompact, than it was for them to appreciate the formal unityof a novel, for instance, the important early analyses byRichards and Brooks concentrated on the reading of poetry.Two decades after Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren91wrote the highly influential text, Understanding Poetry(1938), however, which demonstrated how to perform NewCritical close readings on a number of canonical poems, theyeventually produced the text, Understanding Fiction (1959),which provided teachers and students with New Criticaltechniques for their analyses of short stories. Thisanthology illustrated how the elements of plot, character,setting, narrative point of view, and theme worked togetherto produce a harmonious union of form within short storiesand novels. Brooks and Warren said of the relationshipbetween character and plot, for example, that one importantway the reader can come to understand the changes takingplace in the minds of characters is to observe what they doin response to the various crises in the story’s risingaction:The reader wants to see character realized concretelythrough action. Analysis of motive, psychologicalportraiture, physical description are also importantmeans of presenting character but they are alwayssubsidiary because their true function is to point tothe moment when character and action are one, when wecan realize that character is action. (p. 656)Set—piece descriptive passages can be ignored in pulpfiction, Brooks and Warren argued, because these passagesserve no integrated purpose in the story. But, in goodfiction, setting can serve a number of purposes. A settingwhich is “rendered vividly and memorably, tends to increase92the credibility of character and action,” and it increases“the general susceptibility of the reader” (p. 648). And aparticular character’s description of a scene can tell usdetails about her frame of mind or relationship to the worldaround her.As Brooks and Warren point out, not all of a story’sfacts are presented in the plot and those which the authorhas selected have often had their chronological orderaltered. Thus the action of most stories is presentedindirectly to the reader. As a result, the meaning of goodfiction is not always easy to grasp. Because writers preferto suggest or imply details of the action rather than tostate directly every significant occurrence, their readersare left to puzzle over the few key pieces of a mosaic meantto stimulate their imagination so that they will fill in therest of the picture for themselves. New Critics, therefore,believe that, like good modern lyric poems, many shortstories and novels are aesthetically pleasing because theyhave been crafted to be purposely ambiguous; unreliablenarrators, complex plot structures, and unusual culturalcontexts are just a few of the features which make themessages of the better works of fiction so beautifullyobscure.93One of the literary disciples of Brooks and Warren,Laurence Perrine, as recently as 1983 compiled an anthologyof short stories which follows the same basic format asUnderstanding Fiction. It provides students and teacherswith notes about how the elements of fiction are used by thewriters of the stories in his anthology, Story andStructure: The Canadian Edition. At one point in the textsome generic questions are offered:Does the plot have unity? Are all of the episodesrelevant to the total meaning or effect of the story?Does each incident grow logically out of the precedingincident and lead naturally to the next?What means does the author use to reveal character?Are the characters sufficiently dramatized? What useis made of character contrasts?If the [narrative] point of view is that of one of thecharacters, does this character have any limitationswhich affect his interpretation of events or persons?(pp. 323—324)While these types of questions encourage students toconsider the elements of fiction in combination, and so aremore productive than those which consider plot or characteras though they were isolated features of the text (e.g.,What is the plot of the story?), they do not take intoaccount the political, social, economic, historical,religious, racial, or patriarchal discourses which traversethe text, nor do they require the students to situate the94text and their arguments about it within the debates whichare of central importance to postcolonial theory.1In response, then, to the question, to what extent doesa given curriculum conception enable students to developcomplexity and sophistication in their interpretations ofmulticultural literature, the answer would have to be thatNew Criticism undoubtedly has enabled students to achievecomplex and sophisticated readings of literary works, andthe skills of close reading are certainly worthy ofcontinued use in the postcolonial curriculum. Theappreciation of ambiguity and irony in multicultural textsis a goal which both New Critical and postcolonial teachersstrive to develop in their students. However, postcolonialreading strategies, because they allow the student toconsider not only the formal features of a particular text,but also to analyse the intertextual and interculturalrelationships among texts, can result in even more complexand sophisticated readings than can New Critical readingstrategies. At the same time, postcolonial binaryoppositions and differance provide more powerful tools forthe students’ interpretation of cultural difference than doNew Criticism’s dichotomies and irony.Consider, for instance, the New Critical analysis whichRoy Felsher encourages grade 12 students to conduct upon95Hermann Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha. In his article,“Teaching Siddhartha” (1968), Felsher begins the descriptionof his unit by pointing out that, like the works of Kiplingand Conrad, Hesse’s novel is set in “the exotic East” andthat, as in Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge and Forster’s APassage to India, in Siddhartha we see at least one of thecharacters in the book functioning “as a spokesman forWestern civilization” (p. 317). Thus, Felsher believes thatthe story serves as a critique of both the East and theWest:There are no Europeans in the novel, but the maincharacter, Siddhartha, is essentially a Westernpersonality. He upholds the values and freedom ofspeech and thought that we like to think of as basic tomodern Western civilization. Where the othercharacters are submissive, Siddhartha is domineering;where the others are passive, Siddhartha is active,even aggressive, in his role as spiritual explorer. Bycontrasting these character types, the author cancriticize both East and West. (pp. 318—319)Thus Feisher sees the novel’s structure as unified onthe basis of the principle “that the values of the West mustbe balanced by the virtues of the East” (p. 321), and thestudy questions which he provides for the students reflectthis interpretation of the work as a unity of balancedopposites. He asks them, for example, to “Comment on theBuddha’s distinction between the ‘thirst for knowledge’ andthe ‘goal of salvation.’ Would this correspond to a96contemporary thinker’s distinction between science andreligion? Why?” (p. 322).The problem with Feisher’s New Critical analysis andpedagogical strategy, from the point of view of postcolonialtheory, is that it does not give the students theopportunity to critique Hesse’s Orientalist discourse withits assumption, for instance, that India is “exotic” andmystical, while the West, as it is symbolized by thecharacter of Siddhartha, is “independent,” “scientific,” and“freethinking.” The text might lose some of its apparentunity for the students if they were to see just howconsistently biased is the Orientalist discourse which Hesseemploys in his Eurocentric narrative.2Hesse’s attempt to write a novel about the essentialdifferences between East and West by creating an Indian holyman who exemplifies Western values is obviously open todeconstructive analyses which Feisher’s students in 1968could not have attempted during their New Criticalinvestigations. This is because Felsher’s New Critical viewof Siddhartha does not consider the text within thediscursive terrains of Orientalism and imperialism. The NewCritical argument is that the work’s themes are primarilyreligious and that the book takes place in pre-colonialtimes, so political considerations are extraneous to the97formal appreciation of the text’s well-wrought unity oftheme and character. For Feisher’s New Criticalinterpretation, therefore, the novel’s Indian setting isonly significant to the extent that it reveals features oftheme and character. An added interpretative dimensionwhich the postcolonial approach would encourage students toexplore is the fact that the setting is also aproblematically Eurocentric representation of India as theWest’s exotic Other.Because the postcolonial conception of themulticultural literature curriculum is intended to help highschool students to recognize the ways in which discoursessuch as Orientalism affect our view of Indian holy men, forexample, it is necessary to provide them with alternativediscourses so that they can deconstruct Europeanimperialism’s Orientalist language by supplementing it withthe literary representations and interpretations of, in thiscase, Indians themselves. New Critics believe that the roleof literary criticism is to enhance the reader’sappreciation of the literary work as an aesthetic unity. Iftwo novels about India, such as Hesse’s Siddhartha and MulkRaj Anand’s Untouchable (1940), for example, are comparedusing New Critical standards of interpretation, then thefocus of the reader’s attention will be upon the98similarities and differences between the works’ variousformal features (such as narrative technique, symbolism,plot development, etc.). Postcolonial critics, on the otherhand, move beyond considerations of aesthetic value tocontextualize literary works in historical, political,economic, and social terms, thus calling into question howthe texts’ various discourses represent cultures.Traditional comparative literary analyses, based on NewCritical reading strategies, have not sufficientlyaccomplished this type of contextualization, and thereforethey fail to take into account the relationship betweenimperialism and culture which Edward Said investigates inhis “comparative literature of imperialism.”3As I mentioned in Chapter 1, I must stress the pointthat I am not recommending that students should carry outthe types of New Critical analyses which are traditionallyassociated with comparative literature courses.4 Rather, inorder to employ the strategies of a comparative literatureof imperialism, when students and teachers readmulticultural literature in the high schools, they need tolook, for instance, to Third World comparative literaturescholars, rather than to rely entirely upon dominant culturescholars, for guidance.5 However, before I discusspostcolonial comparative reading strategies in more detail,99it is necessary to examine how the tradition of NewCriticism can cause difficulties for teachers who areattempting to guide their students through postcolonialreadings of literary texts. In her collection of essaystitled, Towards an Aesthetic of Opposition (1988), forinstance, Indian—Canadian critic and teacher, ArunMukherjee, describes how, when she attempted to elicit fromher students written responses to Margaret Laurence’s shortstory, “The Perfume Sea,” she was “thoroughly disappointedby [their) total disregard for local realities treated inthe short story” (p. 24). The story takes place in “Ghanaon the eve of independence from British rule” (p. 24), and,as Mukherjee points out, “it underplays the lives ofindividuals in order to emphasize these larger issues: thenature of colonialism as well as its aftermath when thenative elite takes over without really changing the colonialinstitutions except for their names” (p. 25).In the students’ essays, instead of continuing theanalyses which they had begun in class of the story’ssymbols of imperial rule, they based their arguments “on how‘believable’ or ‘likeable’ the two major characters in thestory were” (p. 26). As Mukherjee considered thegeneralizations that her students had written about100“change,” “people,” “values,” and “reality,” she realizedthat these generalizations were ideological:They enabled [her) students to efface the differencesbetween British bureaucrats and British traders,between colonizing whites and colonized blacks, andbetween rich blacks and poor blacks. It enabled themto believe that all human beings faced dilemmas similarto the ones faced by the two main characters in thestory. (p. 26)Part of the problem, Mukherjee felt, was that thequestions raised in the anthology from which Laurence’sstory was studied, were not about power, class, culture, andsocial order, but, instead, were about the story’s universaltruths which are supposed to speak “to all times and allpeople” (p. 26). Thus, she argues, the editor—critic’s roleis to make “sure that the young minds will not get anyunderstanding of how our society actually functions and howliterature plays a role in it” (p. 28). This is the logicalresult of New Criticism’s emphasis upon apolitical,“objective,” aesthetic readings of texts. Mukherjee’spreference for an “aesthetics of opposition,” therefore,highlights the differences between New Critical andpostcolonial conceptions of the multicultural literaturecurriculum.How, then, are teachers such as Mukherjee to interjectdiscussions of political, social, and economic hegemony intothe literature classroom when New Criticism has101traditionally taught students to avoid such modes ofanalysis? The postcolonial theory of representationprovides one possible answer to this question. Whencomparing how Indian culture has been represented inEurocentric and postcolonial literatures, for example,students must necessarily move beyond the confines of theliterary work under examination to see how the variousdiscourses which traverse the text have been constructed.Thus their analyses cannot remain purely aesthetic innature. Felsher’s students had no theory of representationwith which to perform their New Critical readings of Hesse’sSiddhartha, and so they could not question the assumptionsunderlying the text’s Orientalist, Eurocentric discourses.In order, therefore, to perform postcolonial readings whichtake into account the ways in which the discourses ofOrientalism (mis)represent Indians in such texts as Hesse’sSiddhartha and Forster’s A Passage to India, students usingpostcolonial reading strategies will obviously need at leasta rudimentary knowledge of how Orientalist discourseessentializes India as Europe’s Other.Edward Said’s first major contribution to the field ofpostcolonial literary theory, Orientalism (1978), has servedas an important guide for teachers and students who wish toexamine the ways in which Asian cultures and people have102been (mis)represented by Western writers. Said’s analysisof Orientalist discursive practices has been criticized andmodified by theorists during the years since it was firstwritten, but much of what Said discovered in his ground—breaking study still remains an invaluable resource forteachers and students of multicultural literature today.Said’s basic argument is that Western writing about theOrient, during the centuries since European imperialismfirst began to take hold there, has produced a tradition,or, in Foucault’s terminology, a discourse about Arab,Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures, and that thisdiscourse has eventually come to assume a reality of itsown. When politicians in the West have made strategicdecisions about international relations with a country suchas India, their views, according to Said, have been shapedin most cases as much by the West’s monologicrepresentations of this country as they have been arrived atthrough any first-hand knowledge of the actual heterogeneityof the peoples and cultures to be found there. A simplerway of stating this is that Orientalist discourses leadthose who employ them to construct stereotypical views ofIndians. But the common notion of stereotype is thatWestern writers’ racist (mis)representations of the Orientare merely the result of the writers’ personal psychological103biases. Postcolonial deconstructions of literaryrepresentations, on the other hand, involve much more thansimply recognizing and dealing with psychologicalprejudices.When Karl Marx, for example, in his 1853 analysis ofBritish rule in India, argues for the destruction of India’straditional society in order to lay the foundations foreconomic development, his observations about the lives ofIndian villagers are, as Said argues, influenced by Goethe’sRomantic redemptive project. “Marx’s economic analyses areperfectly fitted thus to a standard Orientalist undertaking,even though Marx’s humanity, his sympathy for the misery ofpeople, are clearly engaged” (p. 154). Marx, therefore, isnot misreading Indian society because he lacks thepsychological predisposition to avoid stereotyping India,but because his Eurocentric perspective and his economicvision have caused him to (mis)represent Indians. Heremarks, for instance, that “village communities,inoffensive though they may appear, had always been thesolid foundation of Oriental despotism, that they restrainedthe human mind within the smallest possible compass, makingit the unresisting tool of superstition, enslaving itbeneath traditional rules, depriving it of all grandeur andhistorical energies” (Cited in Said, p. 153).104The point is that not even a well-intentioned Karl Marxwas immune to the effects of Orientalist discursivepractices. Orientalism’s manner of portraying Indians hadsuch a hold upon the minds of Europeans by the mid-nineteenth century that it was difficult for anyone whochose to write about the Orient to avoid falling intodogmatic, stereotypical formulas. Said identifies fourprincipal dogmas of Orientalism which Madan Sarup, in hisanalysis of Education and the Ideologies of Racism (1991)has summarized as follows:First, there is the absolute and systematic differencebetween the West, which is rational, developed, humane,superior, and the Orient which is aberrant, underdeveloped, inferior. The second dogma is thatabstractions about the Orient are always preferable todirect evidence drawn from modern Oriental realities.A third dogma is that the Orient is eternal, uniform,and incapable of defining itself. A fourth dogma isthat the Orient is at bottom to be either feared orcontrolled. (p. 72)If students attempt to read texts about India with anawareness that they can deconstruct representations ofIndians which are based upon these Orientalist dogmas, thenthey will automatically find themselves performing moresophisticated and complex analyses than they might haveaccomplished before they understood how Orientalistdiscursive practices affected their texts and theirinterpretations.6105In Salman Rushdie’s critique of various British filmsset in India, such as Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi andDavid Lean’s A Passage to India, he says that “the creationof a false Orient of cruel-lipped princes and dusky slim—hipped maidens, of ungodliness, fire and the sword, has beenbrilliantly described by Edward Said in his classic studyOrientalism, in which he makes clear that the purpose ofsuch false portraits was to provide moral, cultural andartistic justification for imperialism and for itsunderpinning ideology, that of the racial superiority of theCaucasian over the Asiatic” (1991, pp. 88-89). Rushdie thenproceeds to argue that “stereotypes are easier to shrug offif yours is not the culture being stereotyped” (p. 89).Arun Mukherjee seems to concur with Rushdie as shefinds in David Lean’s A Passage to India a film which“sweetens the imperialistic relations of the British and theIndians to mere social misunderstanding” (Mukherjee, 1988,p. 102) :One of the major final let downs of the film comes whenwe see Fielding and Stella projected against theHimalayas with loud background music and a submissiveAziz bidding them goodbye. The novel admitted thatpower relations cannot be transformed into friendships.The film papers over this profound statement in a mostawkward and disturbing manner. (p. 1O3)In Said’s recent analysis of the novel, A Passage to106India, he observes that Forster had discovered how to usethe novel form to represent the already existing Britishimperialist “structure of attitude” without needing tochange it. “This structure permitted one to feel affectionfor and even intimacy with some Indians and India generally,but made one see Indian politics as the charge of theBritish, and culturally refused a privilege to Indiannationalism (which, by the way, it gave willingly to Greeksand Italians)” (1993, p. 205). Postcolonial theorists suchas Rushdie, Mukherjee, Srivastava, and Said, therefore, canprovide students with interpretations of A Passage to Indiawhich show them how British imperialism’s Orientalistperspective of the 1920s and the legacy of this perspectivein the 1980s have affected the artistic and politicalvisions even of talented writers and film directors such asForster and Lean. Said’s explanation of the novel’sinability to deal adequately with the realities of theIndian nationalist movement, for instance, can help studentsto venture into a study of the subaltern discourses whichForster’s narrative has distorted or silenced:The novel’s helplessness neither goes all the way andcondemns (or defends) British colonialism, nor condemnsor defends Indian nationalism. True, Forster’s ironiesundercut everyone from the blimpish Turtons and Burtonsto the posturing, comic Indians, but one cannot helpfeeling that in view of the political realities of thel9lOs and 1920s even such a remarkable novel as107Passage to India nevertheless founders on theundodgeable facts of Indian nationalism. Forsteridentifies the course of the narrative with aBritisher, Fielding, who can understand only that Indiais too vast and baffling, and that a Muslim like Azizcan be befriended only up to a point, since hisantagonism to colonialism is so unacceptably silly.The sense that India and Britain are opposed nations(though their positions overlap), is played down,muffled, frittered away. (pp. 203—204)In Lisa Lowe’s analysis of Anglo—American and IndianForster criticism she makes a modification to Said’s notionof Orientalism.8 Lowe argues that Orientalist discourseconcerning Forster’s novel is heterogeneous in that Indiancriticism has both resisted and been implicated inAnglocentric readings of A Passage to India. CitingFoucault, upon whose discourse theory Said’s Orientalism isbased, Lowe points out that “neither the conditions ofdiscursive formation nor the objects of knowledge areidentical, static, or continuous through time” (1991, p. 6).Thus, the various perspectives of British, American, andIndian critics over the seventy years since A Passage toIndia was first published can provide high school studentswith a variety of perspectives on “Indianness” as “a meansof articulating a position that is at once essential andeccentric to the English literary tradition” (p. 103):Heterogeneous, rather than homogeneous, orientalismincludes a variety of positions, not only articulationsof orientalist formations, but critiques of theseformations as well. If the field includes that set ofBritish texts in which the Indian is constituted as the108ruled Other of the British ruler, it also includes theIndian textual responses provoked by and implicated inthese texts. The discussion by Indian critics ofForster’s controversial novel, and indeed all Indiancriticism in English, must be considered as bearing asignificant, if not paradoxical, relationship to theBritish dominated institution of English literarystudy. Although some of the Indian work may beinterpreted as reproducing traditional English ideasabout literary aesthetics and genre, a significantportion of this scholarship cannot be dismissed asmerely a quiescent colonial counterpart to the Britishliterary tradition; rather it is one of the possiblelocations of significant challenges to the colonialhegemony that characterizes that tradition. (p. 105)If the novel or film version of A Passage to India ispresented to high school students for comparison withliterary texts by Indian writers, then they can begin theprocess by themselves of contrasting Eurocentric andpostcolonial representations of Indian cultures and peoples.If these students are additionally given the opportunity toread some sample interpretations of Forster’s text by bothBritish and Indian scholars, then, hopefully, they can beginto appreciate some of the complexities of Forster’s projectand of the various responses to it, including their own.When, for instance, Vicky, one of my OAC students, forher independent study project chose to compare how Indianwomen were represented in Forster’s A Passage toIndia (1924) and Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine (1989), shediscovered that Forster only occasionally provided her withglimpses of the lives of Indian women. For instance, when109Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore, the two main white Britishwomen in Forster’s novel, met a group of timid “Indianladies” at the Club, the narrator comically depicts thesewomen as standing in a corner of the garden with “theirfaces pressed into a bank of shrubs” (p. 61). Jasmine, onthe other hand, as the first person narrator of Mukherjee’stale, revealed to Vicky in great depth what it means to be awidowed Indian woman who suffers both in her homeland,because without her husband she has little status orsecurity in her society, and in the United States, becauseshe is such a vulnerable target for those who wish to takeadvantage of her circumstances as a new and destituteimmigrant. The graphic, first person narrative of Jasmine’ssometimes horrifying experiences, therefore, struck Vicky asmore convincing representations of what it means to be anoppressed Indian woman than did Forster’s depictions ofthem.To help her develop her argument I provided Vicky withinterpretations of A Passage to India by the New CriticLionel Trilling, who examined the theme of “separateness” inthe novel, and by postcolonial critic Benita Parry, whodiscussed the politics of representation in Forster’s text.At the same time Vicky received useful input from herclassmates’ discussions about the short stories, “The110Management of Grief,” by Bharati Mukherjee, and “Dhowli,” byMahasweta Devi. Vicky’s classmates observed, for example,that, just as Jasmine had difficulty coping with the loss ofher husband, so Shaila in “The Management of Grief” washaunted by the spirits of her husband and sons who had beenkilled in the Air India bombing. Both Shaila and Jasminewere caught between their traditional Indian beliefs andtheir need to build a new life for themselves in NorthAmerica. Thus the class discussions about Shaila helpedVicky to understand some of the problems of racism anddislocation which were experienced by each woman. And thefailure, in “The Management of Grief,” of the Toronto socialworker, Judith Templeton, to understand the problems of theIndian—Canadian community which she was employed to serveprovided some interesting parallels for Vicky’s discussionsof racism against Indians as she studied it both inForster’s India and in Mukherjee’s North America.While Vicky was unable to learn very much about thelives of Indian women from Forster’s representations ofthem, her classmates’ interpretations of Mahasweta Devi’sstory helped her to appreciate how the young woman, Dhowli,was so terribly oppressed by the patriarchal and economicpower structures of her village. Devi frequently writesabout the oppression of rural tribal and outcaste111conununities in West Bengal by high-caste landlords,moneylenders, and corrupt government officials:I have always believed that the real history is made byordinary people. I constantly come across thereappearance, in various forms, of folklore, ballads,myths and legends, carried by ordinary people acrossgenerations. The reason and inspiration for my writingare those people who are exploited and used, and yet donot accept defeat (Cited in Solomon, 1992, p. 229).Not surprisingly, then, for one of Vicky’s classmates,Jill, what makes Dhowli’s experiences such a compellingstudy is her ability to survive the abuse which sheencounters at the hands of the wealthy men in her village:“Dhowli” is the story of a Dusad [lower caste] girl whoendured many hardships because she had been widowed asa child. Later she was impregnated by Misralal, aBrahman boy. Dhowli at first did not like the Brahmanboy, but he persisted in chasing her. After Dhowlidiscovered that she was with child she would wait bythe bus stop hoping that Misralal would return andsupport her. Dhowli, her mother, and her baby son wereall being starved by the Brahmans, so Dhowli was forcedinto prostitution. This way she made enough money topay for food and for her mother. When Misralal andDhowli finally met again he asked her why she did notkill herself. This part of the story angered me. Itwas upsetting to see how dispensible lower caste womenare in Indian society and how cruelly men treat Indianwomen.Using responses such as Jill’s for a starting point,the students then proceeded to discuss not only the usualfeatures of plot, character, setting, theme, and narrativeperspective which are the elements of fiction addressed byNew Criticism, but also postcolonial issues of class and112gender equity. Although the students’ discussions obviouslydid not achieve the level of sophistication which would bepossible for experienced postcolonial critics, nevertheless,just as their interpretations of “The Management of Grief”moved beyond the immediate parameters of the story intobroader discussions, for example, about institutional racismagainst the Indian community in Canada, so when the studentsattempted to interpret Devi’s story, their New Criticalanalyses of character relationships soon gave way topostcolonial questions about how caste and genderinequalities are represented in the text.9Just as Arun Mukherjee found, however, that herstudents had been habituated to New Critical methods ofinterpretation, I found it difficult to change my students’habits of aesthetic analysis and to turn their attention,instead, to a consideration of how imperialism’s legacy wasinfluencing not only the discourses of texts written by E.M.Forester and Bharati Mukherjee, but also how it wasaffecting their own written and oral responses to Britishand Indian depictions of India. The problem was not thatthe students were consciously resisting postcolonialcomparative reading approaches, or objecting to a methodwhich required them to think in political, economic, andsociological terms about literature, but rather that they- 113simply had never talked in these ways about novels and shortstories in their previous English courses. For that matter,most of them had never read literature outside of theBritish and North American mainstream before, and they wereactually rather enthusiastic about studying texts which tookthem so far from their usual reading experiences.Nevertheless, I concluded that the level of multiculturalliteracy achieved by my students when reading these textswas superior to that which they would have attained had theynot performed their postcolonial comparative analyses. WhenI considered, for example, how well Vicky and Jill wouldhave perceived the effects of imperialism upon the lives ofIndian women had they only examined their texts’ themes,characters, and settings using New Critical methods ofanalysis, it was clear to me that they would not havedeveloped as strong an awareness of the similarities anddifferences between majority, white Canadians and minority,Indian—Canadians, nor would they have developed as strong anunderstanding of the fact that India contains such a widevariety of peoples and cultures.My OAC students’ postcolonial investigations into theracial, sexual, and economic oppression experienced by thethree Indian widows, Jasmine, Shaila, and Dhowli, sensitizedthem, for example, to the injustices of the American114immigration system, the Canadian social welfare system, andthe Indian caste system. Their study of the discourses ofBrahmans and untouchables, and of Hindus and Sikhs, alsoenabled them to recognize, for instance, that discussions ofthe seemingly universal theme of love take on much morecomplicated meanings when set within the contexts ofpostcolonial notions of racial, social, religious, andeconomic difference.Once my students became aware of some basicpostcolonial reading strategies, such as deconstructingOrientalist misrepresentations of the “inferior” and“irrational” Asian, although they obviously requiredguidance during the early stages of their studies in orderto change from New Critical to postcolonial modes ofanalysis, they performed more complex and sophisticatedinterpretations both of European imperialist texts such asPassage to India and of postcolonial text such as “Dhowli,”Jasmine, and Midnight’s Children, than they would haveproduced using New Critical reading strategies.-° This isbecause the New Critical conception of the multiculturalliterature curriculum has as its foundation a view ofliterary analysis which lacks an adequate theory ofrepresentation or of intertextuality upon which students canbase their attempts to contextualize their reading. Also,115New Criticism’s avoidance of overtly politicalinterpretations makes it difficult for students to respondto the discourses of imperialism and subaltern resistancewhich they encounter in their multicultural texts. But,while the postcolonial conception is better suited tofostering student understanding of the political andcultural textual terrains within which they can situate boththeir multicultural texts and their readings of those texts,postcolonial theoretical perspectives are not easilyconveyed to high school students, in part, because they areso radically different from the New Critical perspectiveswhich most of them have been taught in the past. Thus, Irecommend, as students make the transition from New Criticalto postcolonial reading strategies, that they should betaught these techniques indirectly (just as they werepreviously taught the techniques of close reading), byenabling them, for instance, to compare representations ofthe Other in Eurocentric and postcolonial literary texts.The contrasts between subaltern and dominant culturediscourses which become evident through such a comparativestrategy, in most cases, can lead students to performdifferential and supplementary analyses long before they areable to understand why this process works for them. Theimportant outcome is not that students become precocious116literary theorists but that they begin to develop complexityof critical thought and multicultural literacy throughstudying the comparative literature of imperialism.Notes1. Thus, if there are traces of the struggle betweencolonizer and colonized in one of the anthology’s storiessuch as Joseph Conrad’s “Youth,” or if there is evidencethat patriarchal and imperial domination are interconnectedin another of the stories, Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls,”the New Critical formula for discovering the essential unityof a literary work is not likely to reveal or explain theexistence of these aspects of the story.2. Such a comparative analysis would show them, forexample, that, in the words of Ashis Nandy, “India is notnon-West; it is India” (1983, p. 73). Nandy argues, in TheIntimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism,that “outside the small section of Indians who were onceexposed to the full thrust of colonialism and are now heirsto the colonial memory, the ordinary Indian has no reason tosee himself as a counterplayer or an antithesis of theWestern man” (p. 73).3. Said’s postcolonial approach to comparative literature,for instance, could raise the following types of questionsfor consideration in the high school multiculturalliterature classroom:a) Why and how should students compare the dominantEurocentric discourse in the works of the canonical writers(eg., Kipling, Forster, Hesse) with the “talking back” ofsubaltern writers and critics (eg., Rushdie, Devi, andSpivak)?b) What can students learn by comparing ancient andmodern literature within and between various cultures? Forinstance, passages from Journey to the West, the ancientChinese epic about the mythological hero, the Monkey King,could be compared with a contemporary Chinese—Americanversion of the tale by Maxine Hong Kingston calledTripmaster Monkey, or Mahasweta Devi’s contemporary shortstory, “Draupadi,” could be compared with excerpts from theancient Indian classic upon which it is based, Thg117Mahabharata.c) How can the postcolonial goals of decentering anddisseminating discourse be achieved by examining thecontexts of the literature with the help of perspectivesfrom history, visual art, music, sociology, anthropology,philosophy, media studies, film, drama, politics, geography,and comparative religion?4. Readers of such journals as Comparative Literature andComparative Literature Studies might conclude that noliterature worth reading has ever been written outside ofEurope and North America. On the other hand, WorldLiterature Written in English and World Literature Today arejournals which in recent years have been discovering andcomparing the works of fascinating new writers from all overthe world.5. The argument that comparatists should study works from avariety of the world’s literatures rather than from theEurocentric canon alone is also shared by a number of Indiancritics, among others (Aiphonso—Karkakala, 1974, Pathak,1987, and Spivak, 1990).6. Nevertheless, Said’s approach to interpretingOrientalist discourse should not be adopted uncritically bystudents and teachers. Jane Miller, for instance,criticizes Said’s theory from her feminist perspective asshe argues that “in accepting the power and the usefulnessof an analysis like Said’s there is an essentialproviso...to be made. If women are ambiguously presentwithin the discourses of Orientalism, they are just asambiguously present within the discourses developed toexpose and to oppose Orientalism. Their presence in both isas forms of coinage, exchange value offered or stolen orforbidden, tokens of men’s power and wealth or lack of them.The sexual use and productiveness of women are allowed toseem equivalent to their actual presence and theirconsciousness. They are finally, ‘Orientalised’ withinSaid’s terms into the perceptions and the language whichexpress, but also elaborate on, the uses men have for womenwithin exploitive societies” (1990, p. 122).Another problem which some critics have observed inSaid’s theory of Orientalism is that his attack uponessences and oppositional distinctions gives the reader theimpression that collectively constituted difference is“necessarily static and positionally dichotomous” (Clifford,1988, p. 274). As James Clifford points out, “there is noneed to discard theoretically all conceptions of ‘cultural’118difference, especially once this is seen as not simplyreceived from tradition, language, or environment but alsoas made in new political—cultural conditions of globalreality” (p. 274).7. Aruria Srivastava observes that “David Lean’s filmversion, which takes several liberties with the text, alsocaricatures Aziz and Godbole painfully, while the equallysatiric portraits of Anglo—Indians in the novel are softenedin the film. Compared to the Indian characters, Englishcharacters, in particular Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Adela(to a lesser extent) are comparatively well—roundedcharacters” (1989, P. 85).8. Said, himself, has recently acknowledged thesignificance of Lowe’s changes to his theory: “Revisionistscholarship of this sort has varied, if it has notaltogether broken up the geography of the Middle East andIndia as homogeneous, reductively understood domains. Goneare the binary oppositions dear to the nationalist andimperialist enterprise. Instead we begin to sense that oldauthority cannot simply be replaced by new authority, butthat new alignments made across borders, types, nations, andessences are rapidly coming into view, and it is those newalignments that now provoke and challenge the fundamentallystatic notion of identity that has been the core of culturalthought during the era of imperialism” (Said, 1993, pp.xxiv—xxv).9. As Gayatri Spivak points out about the disenfranchisedwomen of India represented in Devi’s texts, their problems“are not immediately locatable as women’s problems.... Thewomen’s problems that can be isolated [are) the bride—burning problem, for example, which is very much the Hindu,Muslim, Sikh working class, or the problem of organizedlabour...or all the so—called semi—feudal problems relatedto the marriage structure” (1990, p. 80). Although Spivakhas not interpreted “Dhowli,” she has performed adeconstruction of another short story by Devi which has manyparallels to “Dhowli.” Teachers wishing to examine Spivak’svarious postcolonial, poststructural approaches tointerpreting Devi’s writing should, therefore, read Spivak’sarticle, “A Literary Representation of The Subaltern: AWoman’s Text From the Third World” (1987).10. I realize that most senior high school students wouldhave difficulty reading Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s.119Children, and I am not suggesting that this novel should betaught as a core text for the entire class. However, I havefound that some of my more talented students were able toread the novel for their independent study project with thehelp of suggestions for analysis from the work of thefollowing postcolonial theorists: John Thieme (1983), MariaCouto (1983), Ron Shepherd (1985), John Stephens (1985),Aruna Srivastava (1990), and, of course, Salman Rushdie,himself (1991).120Chapter 4The Archetypal ConceptionAgnes Grant is one of Canada’s leading advocates forthe teaching of high school and university Native Literaturecourses. Her most notable contribution to the field hasbeen the monograph, Native Literature In The Curriculum(1986a), which was derived from her interdisciplinarydoctoral thesis at the University of Manitoba.’ In BrandonUniversity’s Native Studies program Grant teaches coursesentitled Oral Narratives, on mythology and traditionalpoetry, and Native Literature, on contemporary writing.Although Grant is not a Native herself, she explains thatshe feels a strong empathy with the Native community havingraised two adopted Native children, and having spent manyyears working with student teachers at Brandon University’sFaculty of Education to develop strategies for the teachingof Native literature in Manitoba’s high schools.Nevertheless, Grant’s decision to rely heavily upon thearchetypal theories of Carl Jung and Paula Gunn Allen in herNative literature curriculum conception has caused her tomake claims about the nature of Native culture and mythologywhich, from a postcolonial perspective, appear essentialist.121Like her mentor, the Native American writer, critic,and literature professor, Paula Gunn Allen (whose theories Ishall be discussing later in this chapter), Grant believesstrongly in the importance of studying the archetypalpatterns which she feels are necessary to an understandingof North American Native Indian mythology. An awareness ofthese archetypes, she argues, is needed in order forstudents to study effectively works both of the oraltradition and of contemporary Native literature. Myths,Grant believes, “can be seen as histories of the firstpeople, [and these) primitive people were naturally poetic”(l986a, p. 18). Postcolonial theorists such as MariannaTorgovnick (1990) would caution, however, that words such as“primitive” and “natural,” when attributed in this way tocultural groups, often indicate that the writer wishes toascribe essential differences between civilized cultures andtheir exotic Others. It is Grant’s tendency in hercurriculum theory to essentialize Native culture in thismanner which I must therefore deconstruct at the outset ofthis chapter.For her archetypal approach Grant believes that oneuseful key to unlocking the mysteries of Native mythology isCarl Jung’s theory of archetypes:122The theory of archetypes is very important to the studyof Indian mythology, particularly if the mythology isto be seen as having depth and profundity equal to thatof other world mythologies. Indian mythology hasfrequently been discredited because scholars of Westernliterature have not recognized its depth and scope. Anarchetypal examination of Indian myths proves thisattitude invalid. Though the form and events of Indianmythology may be quite different, it can be of somecomfort to uninitiated readers that the themes andmotifs are quite often familiar. (p. 20)2Jung has attempted to defend his theory of archetypesagainst his critics by arguing that they are wrong to assumehe is dealing with “inherited representations,” and that,because they have misunderstood his notion of archetypes,they have dismissed it as “mere superstition”:They have failed to take into account the fact that ifarchetypes were representations that originated in ourconsciousness (or were acquired by consciousness), weshould surely understand them, and not be bewilderedand astonished when they present themselves in ourconsciousness. They are, indeed, an instinctive trend,as marked as the impulse of birds to build nests, orants to form organized colonies. (1964, pp. 57—58)So, for both Jung and Grant, the power of archetypeslies in their universality and in their metaphysical originsin the subconscious. Grant, in fact, uses her belief in thepowerful metaphysical presence of Native mythologicalarchetypes as one of her main justifications for consideringthese myths to be as worthy of study as are the myths ofother world cultures. While the appropriation of Jung’stheory of archetypes for use in literary analysis is not anew notion, the idea that archetypal criticism can have as123one of its goals the discovery in Native literature ofprofound, subconscious, essential truths about “primitive”history and religion is an innovation peculiar to thetheories of Agnes Grant and Paula Gunn Allen. Their notionof archetypal criticism, however, is significantly differentin several key respects from that of archetypalism’s mostnoteworthy practitioner, Northrop Frye. And it is importantto note that, while their approaches differ, neither Frye’suse of the theory of archetypal patterns nor Grant’s andAllen’s are free of difficulties when they are applied tothe teaching of Native literature.In Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism (1957) heacknowledges the importance to his own archetypal criticalinvestigations of Jung’s psychological studies and of SirJames Frazer’s immense anthropological catalogue of cross—cultural archetypal patterns, The Golden Bough (1922). But,unlike Jung, Grant, and Allen, Frye does not invest thearchetypal patterns which he finds across the world’sliteratures with any necessarily historical or metaphysicalorigins. For Frye, the idea that the communicability ofarchetypes needs to be accounted for with Jung’s theory ofthe collective unconscious is “an unnecessary hypothesis inliterary criticism” (pp. 111-112). Frye argues, in fact,that literary criticism requires no external, deterministic124theory such as Marxism, Freudianism, or existentialism, uponwhich to ground its interpretations. That is, he believes,like the New Critics, that literature and literary theoryshould be able to stand on their own as unities which areself—explanatory and not dependent upon the discoveries ofpsychologists, anthropologists, historians, or biographers,even though the contributions which these disciplines canbring to literary criticism, Frye feels, are obviously ofsome value. Thus, although literary critics share withanthropologists an interest in rituals and withpsychologists an interest in dreams, Frye’s brand ofarchetypal criticism is concerned with the form of dreamsand rituals rather than with their origins. He is carefulto separate himself from any notion in Jungian psychologythat the purpose of interpretation is to read thesubconscious mind of humanity rather than to recognize howthe formal features of one piece of literature compare withpatterns which can be found within other works from the bodyof literature as a whole:To the literary critic, ritual is the content ofdramatic action, not the source or origin of it.Golden Bough is, from the point of view of literarycriticism, an essay on the ritual content of naivedrama: that is, it reconstructs an archetypal ritualfrom which the structural and generic principles ofdrama may be logically, not chronologically, derived.It does not matter two pins to the literary critic125whether such a ritual had any historical existence ornot. (p. 109)As I have already remarked, in Frye’s and Grant’scurriculum theories we actually have two significantlydifferent views of archetypal criticism. And yet, itappears that Grant and Allen want their archetypal approachto be related to Frye’s to the extent that archetypalism, ashe has established it, can lend to Native literature thesame status as say that held by ancient Greek or Romanliterature. But, if it is true that Grant and Allen wishtheir archetypal approach to be seen as a key to unlockingessential truths about the origins of Native culture, anyassociation with Frye’s theory could prove a seriousdetriment to their claims.To see how these theoretical differences andsimilarities work themselves out in practice, I now examineone example each of Frye’s and Grant’s theories applied tothe teaching of Native literature in high schools. In thehigh school textbook, Wish and Nightmare (1972), which bearsNorthrop Frye’s name as its supervisory editor, we see anattempt on the part of its editors, Hope and Alvin Lee, toincorporate a number of Native works into Frye’s archetypalcritical framework.4 Although there is a clear effort on thepart of the editors to contextualize these works byproviding background information about the cultures from126which the stories derive, a sampling of the contents of theteacher’s guide to the textbook indicates that the centralconcern of the Frye program is to provide cross—culturalanalysis of the archetypes within each tale. In theexplanation of Longfellow’s epic poem about Hiawatha, forinstance, instead of encouraging students, as would thepostcolonial approach, to interrogate the assumptions behindthe poem’s nineteenth—century discourse of the “noblesavage” by asking them to examine how it differs from Nativerepresentations of their heroes, the editors, in theirTeacher’s Manual: Wish and Nightmare (1972), provide thefollowing explanation of the poem’s archetypal significance:Hiawatha is one of the archetypal “saviour”figures of literature. He risks death in order to givea gift to his people. The god Mondamin, too, dies inorder to rise again in the form of the gift of grain.In the Bible, Jacob refused to let the mysteriousvisitor go until he had blessed him. Jacob’s singlematch lasted until dawn, and the result was theblessing of Jacob and the change of his name to Israel.You could ask your students how Hiawatha is Moses.(See “Go Down, Moses” in Chapter One.) How is MondaminJohnny Appleseed? (They are both reborn each year as aresult of the memorials they left for earth.) (HopeLee, 1972, p. 124)This type of intertextual comparison, while it offersthe students some interesting opportunities to appreciatecommon themes and character types among disparatemythologies, does little to lead them any closer tothe127essential Native beliefs which are of such importance inGrant’s curriculum.5 Nor does it enable the students tofocus on any of the stories’ other features such as theiroral tradition narrative techniques, plot structures, andreligious significance, but instead it reduces their valueto those aspects only which they have in common with storiesfrom other cultures. Richard Hardin (1989) has clearlyidentified the difficulty with Frye’s non-contextual, crosscultural, comparative approach to reading works such asLongfellow’s poem:The outward movement of the archetypal approach is atonce its chief attraction and its principal deficiencyas an aesthetic instrument. We may be impressed by thewide range of correspondences or analogues that can befound in the images and characters of widely divergenttexts but may soon find that such associative effortshave drawn us completely away from the text itself.(pp. 45—46)The postcolonial approach to reading Native literature,therefore, should ensure that, if students at some pointneed to compare archetypal patterns of Native myths, forexample, with those of myths from other cultures, then theyshould be aware that they are not to abstract and privilegethe texts’ aesthetic forms while ignoring the religious,historical, and political values which these works containfor the Native community which produced them.128The second high school Native literature unit which Iwish to analyse here has been directly influenced by thetheories of Paula Gunn Allen, and, thus, shares with Allen’sand Grant’s archetypal approaches a curricular focus uponthe metaphysical foundations of Native mythology and theoral tradition. In Diane Long Hoeveler’s article, “Text andContext: Teaching Native American Literature” (1988), sheobserves that Native Americans have only recently begun toproduce a significant number of their own literary workswritten in English for the non-Native American public:Until the publication of Scott Momaday’s House Made ofDawn (1968), the general population had not heardactual Native Americans speak in their own voices— thewhite culture had been speaking for them. During thepast twenty years, however, there has been a veritableexplosion of texts coming from the Native Americancommunity, and we now have a substantial corpus to usein teaching contemporary Native American literature”(p. 20)Hoeveler identifies three major themes arising out ofthe six—week unit on Native literature which she teaches tohigh school students. The first theme which is revealedthrough the students’ study of poetry and essays is theNative’s “overwhelming respect for nature as divine.” Byreading Frank Waters’ essay, “Two Views of Nature: White andIndian,” Hoeveler’s students “begin to understand how thesetwo views set the stage for the disaster that was played outthroughout the nineteenth century across the western plains”129(p. 20). A second theme which Hoeveler’s students explorein the unit is “survival,” as the “corruption of traditionalvalues and the assault on the Indian family are explored”(p. 20). And the third theme of her course is “the power ofIndian traditions,” as Hoeveler examines with her students“the value of the old ‘ways,’ and the relevance of Indiantribal practices and religious beliefs for the NativeAmerican today” (pp. 20—21).She then lists many interesting resources and classroomactivities. For instance, she invites guest speakers fromthe local Indian Cultural Center to talk to her students inorder to contrast the museum displays of Indians with NativeAmericans who “are alive and struggling to preserve theirculture and values in the midst of an urban environment” (p.24). Hoeveler concludes the description of her program withthe observation that she and her students are “humbled andshamed by the story [Native writers) tell of their history,but [they] are also inspired by the vision of nature [whichIndians) still possess” (p. 24).Unlike the attempt in the textbook Wish and Nightmare(1972) to place the Native works within Frye’s broad schemeof literary archetypes, Hoeveler tries to introduce herstudents to the Native’s vision of the divinity withinnature and to traditional Native beliefs, by enabling them130to hear Natives speaking in their own voices throughtranslations from the oral tradition and through the worksof contemporary writers such as Scott Momaday. However, aswas the case with Grant’s view of literary representation,Hoeveler’s does not take into account the opacity oflanguage. Because, like all texts, myths are sociallyconstructed, their discourses cannot contain clearlyreflective signifiers of some underlying vision of nature orof religious beliefs. To claim that students can be shown avision of nature, as though Native discourse on nature wereunproblematic, fails to recognize that myths are systems ofsignification crafted in history for various purposes. AsRoland Barthes points out in Mythologies (1973), in orderfor myths, both ancient and modern, to be revered aspossessing an authentic presence, it is necessary to forgetthat at some historical moment they were constructed bypeople:The world enters language as a dialectical relationbetween activities, between human actions; it comes outof myth as a harmonious display of essences. Aconjuring trick has taken place; it has turned realityinside out, it has emptied it of history and has filledit with nature. (p. 155)A good example of the complexities involved indiscussing the essential or authentic Native vision as itspeaks to us through mythological archetypes can be seen in131one of the twentieth century’s most popular Native texts,Black Elk Speaks (Neihart, 1932). Where Hoeveler and Grantwish to make use of Native mythology as a key to the originsof the Native view of divinity in nature, the student,whether non—Native or Native, who attempts a postcolonialinterpretation of Black Elk’s rhetorical strategies candiscover much, not only about his visionary account ofnature, but also about how he defended that vision withinthe treacherous textual terrain of the dominant whiteculture as he attempted, with his translator, John G.Neihart, to convey his meaning to a non—Native readership.From Grant’s archetypal perspective, however, she seesBlack Elk’s endeavour as the transmission of his visionaryexperience through the telling of a modern day myth:The seeking of visions is a practice central to mostNorth American Indian societies; ritual and myth arenatural outcomes of visionary experience. Paula GunnAllen believes it is because of the importance of thevision to the life of the people that the religiouslife of the tribe endures, even under the most adversecircumstances. But a vision can only be experienced byone person, and it must be shared; thus mythsoriginate. Black Elk Speaks is a rare example of amodern day myth though it must be recognized thatknowledge of Black Elk’s vision is available onlythough the translation of John G. Neihart. (1986a, p.20—21)Grant is acknowledging here the fact that translationis at least one obstacle in the path of the Native text’sability to serve as a transparent and transcendental132signifier of the visionary experience, but, as David Murraypoints out in his book, Forked Tongues: Speech, Writing, andRepresentation in North American Indian Texts, (1991) thereare other factors which need to be considered as well ifBlack Elk’s intercultural struggles are to be seen withinthe various political and religious discursive fields whichaided and blocked the production and reception of hiscultural inscription:The popularity of Black Elk Speaks in the 1960s has...to be seen in the context of what the Indian came torepresent in the period. First published in 1932 andlargely ignored, the book only became popular after itspaperback reissue in 1961, when the growing counter—cultural predilection for the irrational, supernaturaland primitive led to an increasing interest in, andidealization of, Indian culture. Black Elk Speaksseemed to offer ecological awareness, mind—expandingvisions and an indictment of white Americancivilization, and its success encouraged publication ofmany other works of variable quality that presentedIndians in this light. (p. 71)Murray goes on to recount Alice Beck Kehoe’sobservation that Nick Black Elk’s position as narrator of amodern Lakota “myth” was somewhat complicated because of hisother role as a strong member of the Catholic church whonever talked about the old ways with members of hiscommunity but often talked about the Bible and Christ. AsKehoe remarks, “Black Elk’s genius lay in organizing Lakotareligion according to a Christian framework, emphasizingcharacteristics amenable to expression in symbols133reminiscent of Christian symbols, yet keeping a Lakotaessence” (Murray, p. 72).Myth—makers of both dominant and subaltern cultures,therefore, must consciously work simultaneously within andagainst each other’s discursive practices in order toproduce imperialist and anti-imperialist myths. To quoteBarbara Godard on the politics of representation in NativeCanadian writing, “‘Heterogeneity,’ fractured genres,‘polymorphous’ subjects, ‘borderland’ sites— these are themarks of ‘resistance writing’ especially as practised byNative North Americans under ‘metissage’ in theirwithin/without relation to the dominant social formations”(1990, p. 198). Thus, as the 1990s literary offspring ofNick Black Elk, such as Daniel David Moses, Tomson Highway,Thomas King, Emma Lee Warrior, Lee Maracle, and JeanetteArmstrong, try to fashion new myths in contemporarycontexts, they want their Native and non—Native audiences torecognize that they are playing with, and often subverting,Western story-telling conventions by infusing them withNative story-telling techniques from the oral tradition. Toassume that anyone can read their tales in English and thenstraightforwardly achieve a union with the mystic Nativevision is to undervalue the tremendous skill and effort thatthese cross—cultural workers put into appropriating the134English language and literary techniques to fashion theirown oppositional texts within the margins of the dominantculture.High school teachers and students of Native literaturecannot fully appreciate the intercultural conflicts whichtake place within Native texts if they think that thesestories transparently reveal essential Native truths eventhough they make use of many of the conventions of thedominant culture’s English literary tradition. Students andteachers are also going to fail to appreciate these works ifthey think that the decoding of narrative techniques whichare derived from the Native oral tradition is simply amatter of reading texts aesthetically (in the manner ofFrye) for their archetypal significance without recognizinghow story-telling techniques can bring traditional cultureto life for Native readers. The conventions of the oraltradition are just as sophisticated as those of the Westernwriting tradition and cannot be adequately appreciated whendecontextualized by archetypal readings.Walter Ong in his study of Orality and Literacy (1990)makes the point that the oral tradition is woefullyundervalued as naive by Western critics and therefore bymany uninformed dominant culture teachers as well. Peoplewho have interiorized writing tend to organize their oral135expression and thought patterns the same way that they writeand so they do not recognize and appreciate the complexitiesof organization involved in Native oral narration. Ongdescribes, for example, the way “narrators of Navahofolkioric animal stories can provide elaborate explanationsof the various implications of the stories for anunderstanding of complex matters in human life from thephysiological to the psychological and moral” (p. 57). Ifstudents are to achieve a more sophisticated interpretationof Native story-telling techniques, therefore, they cannotjudge tales from the oral tradition by using Eurocentriccategories of aesthetic judgement such as those advocated bythe archetypal critics.George L. Cornell, in his powerfully moving argumenttitled, “The Imposition of Western Definitions of Literatureon Indian Oral Traditions” (1987), lists three reasons whyit is wrong to attempt Eurocentric literary aestheticinterpretations of Native oral histories, songs, andprayers. First of all, because Indian oral traditions “arethe respective histories of diverse Native peoples” theymust not be appropriated by “literary imperialism” but mustbe preserved and nurtured by Native people. Otherwise, ifthey allow their tradition to be interpreted out of contextby dominant culture scholars, then they will lose control of136their history. Cornell’s second point is that“interpretations of oral traditions that are not based ondetailed familiarity with a specific culture arefabrications which create new stereotypes and disseminatefalse information.” Finally, and most importantly, heargues that oral narratives “carry with them messages andmeanings which must not be misconstrued.” These tales teachNative people lessons about how to conduct themselvesaccording to ancient beliefs, and they explain to them thereasons why they “do things and make things, the ways inwhich they relate to other beings, the terms by which theyexplain their existence, and the vehicles by which theychoose to express these concerns” (pp. 176—177). Thesethings, Cornell believes, are of more importance than arethe aesthetic features which white critics may wish toidentify in stories from the Native oral tradition.6Of course, it is not only the interpretations ofdominant culture literary critics which have produceddangerous (mis)representations of First Nations’ people andtheir cultures. Indigenous peoples of North America havealso been portrayed by countless Western writers from thedays of James Fenimore Cooper to the present as Europeancivilization’s savage Other. If students become aware ofNative fiction’s relationship to dominant culture discourse,137then they can better appreciate how its writers use and/orresist this discourse and its stereotypes in their owncomplex efforts to represent Native cultures. Terry Goldie(1989), for example, has studied Eurocentric attempts torepresent the indigene in Canada, Australia, and NewZealand. Goldie relies upon Said’s use of the word“representation” to indicate that literary works cannotdeliver to their readers the underlying presence or realityof the indigene, but can only (re)present the “image” ofaborigines, Maoris, or Hurons as this image has beenconstructed in countless works of fiction. When studentsview films such as Dances with Wolves and Black Robe, forexample, Goldie would argue that they can learn from theirpostcolonial analyses that the movies’ images of FirstNations people are intended primarily to appeal to consumersof historical romance rather than to portray accurately theessence of Lakota or Huron Native cultures (p. 149). Goldieobserves that most viewers and readers are interested infictional representations of the indigene because theseimages terrify or enchant them, and not because they are“realistic.” The difficulty arises, therefore, whenstudents believe that conventional representations offictional characters are actually realistic portrayals ofNative people, and that all Maoris, Lakotas, and Hurons must138be either violent warriors or mystical environmentalists.While the first step in literary response usually involvesallowing the text to stimulate one’s imagination, and I amnot suggesting that high school students should be deniedthis initial pleasure when reading Eurocentric depictions ofNative people, during subsequent readings of the storystudents should be encouraged to question the validity ofstereotypical representations of Native people.It is also important to note that the problem of how torepresent the indigene is not restricted only to whitenovelists and film makers. As Gerald Vizenor (1989), aChippewa author and postcolonial theorist, has pointed out,“Monologic realism and representation in tribal literatures,in this sense, is a ‘bureaucratic solution’ toneocolonialism and the consumption of narratives andcultures” (p. 6). It is not surprising, then, that, as KarlKroeber (1989) observes, when N. Scott Momaday wrote hisPulitzer Prize winning novel, House Made of Dawn, (1966) hisstyle was influenced by Lawrence, Conrad, and Hemingway, andhis content was drawn largely from research conducted bywhite ethnographers:Momaday’s personal displacements thus echo those of hispeople, and one is tempted to read the protagonist ofhis novel as echoing Momaday’s own difficulties inestablishing his Indian identity. Yet that protagonistappears in a novel in English; Momaday uses a non—139Native language and generic form to evoke andarticulate possibilities of being Indian. The culturewhich alienated Momaday from his people authorizes thelanguage and form of his art...Momaday inventsimaginatively to evoke an ‘Indianness’ for his readers(amajority of whom presumably would not be Indians)through an Anglo—American literary structure that mustprohibit any authentically Indian imaginative form. (p.17—18)The traces of traditional Native culture that are woventhroughout Momaday’s text, therefore, are neither pure norauthentic representations of an archetypal Native mythos orethos, but are comprised instead of opaque, interculturaldiscourses which require postcolonial deconstructive readingstrategies if they are to be interpreted effectively. Ifwe, therefore, compare the archetypal and postcolonialconceptions of the Native literature curriculum, then itshould be clear that students can achieve a more complex andsophisticated reading of texts constructed by both Nativeand non—Native writers when they are shown how toproblematize representations of Native culture in order torecognize the conflicting discourses at work in these texts.Nevertheless, the process of interpreting texts to determinehow Native people and places have been represented, becauseit involves both appreciating and criticizing theliterature’s conceptualizations of mythological authenticityand its vision of nature, cannot be approached by teachersand students as though there were no sensitive political or140spiritual issues at stake. Before I turn to an analysis ofsome of my OAC students’ postcolonial interpretations ofNative Canadian literature, therefore, it is necessary todiscuss in more detail the differences between thearchetypal and postcolonial views of Native spirituality asthese two perspectives are expressed by Paula Gunn Allen andArnold Krupat.Consider, for instance, the political and spiritualvalues which are cherished by Paula Gunn Allen, a Siouxnovelist, poet, literary critic, and professor of NativeAmerican Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.Allen describes her connection to the archetypal conceptionof the Native literature curriculum in her very importantbook, Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essaysand Course Designs (1983), where she argues that reality fortraditional American Indians is metaphysical. The psychicexperiences which Western observers such as Jung havediscussed in connection with the concept of the “collectiveunconscious,” Allen points out are not considered by manyNatives to be imaginary or hallucinatory, but are a naturalpart of their spiritual union with the world:American Indians encounter and verify metaphysicalreality. No one’s experience is idiosyncratic. Thesinger who tells of journeying to the west and climbingunder the sky speaks of a journey that many have takenin the past and will take in the future. Every141traveller will describe the same sights and sounds andwill enter and return in like fashion. (p. 17)Of central importance to Allen’s view of Nativeliterature is the archetype of the “sacred hoop.” Shebelieves, in other words, that the American Indian treats“space as spherical and time as cyclical, whereas the non—Indian tends to view space as linear and time assequential”:The circular concept requires all “points” that make upthe sphere of being to have a significant identity andfunction, while the linear model assumes that some“points” are more significant than others. In the one,significance is a necessary factor of being in itself,whereas in the other, significance is a function ofplacement on an absolute scale that is fixed in timeand space. (p. 7)But as an advocate of “ethnocriticism,” Arnold Krupat(1992) argues that by insisting upon establishing thesemetaphors of the Native circle and the Western ladder, Allenmakes it difficult for Native and non-Native writers andcritics to break out of the dangerous manichean logic ofcivilized/savage or lettered/unlettered binary oppositionswhich have served to subjugate Native culture for centuries:By imposing totalized stereotypes that insist notmerely upon the difference but the opposition of theimages invoked, such a reliance threatens to doomNative Americans and Euramericans to repeat the past.If lines and circles can meet only tangentially, afigural or geometric imperative acting, as it were, inthe place of fate, then frontier encounters between thepeoples submitted to that fate must continue to bemarked by misunderstanding and conflict. (p. 42)142Instead of Allen’s reliance upon the archetype of thesacred hoop to enable her to identify the significantdifferences between Native and non—Native literaryperspectives, Krupat, in developing his alternativeethnocritical approach to interpreting literaryrepresentations of Native culture, has borrowed JamesClifford’s strategy of situating the reader on the bordersbetween cultures in a position which cannot claim to baseits authority on a grand narrative of the essentialarchetypes of Native literature, but which can act in aborder crossing capacity to mediate understanding betweendivergent cultures:With Clifford, I believe, of course, that betweencultures is where critics must situate themselves, butI see that position as not off center, but, instead, onthe borders. The difference is that the borderintellectual, or, in my specific terminology, theethnocritic, ideally, and I trust, in actual materialpractice, is not engaged in writing or in acting out atragic or a comic destiny or identity but, rather, withrecognizing, accommodating, mediating, or, indeed, evenbowing under the weight of sheer difference. (pp. 123-124)In contrast to Krupat’s ethnocritical view of literarycriticism as a space in which cultural difference can beexplored to the advantage of both Native and non—Nativeborder intellectuals, Paula Gunn Allen accentuates theabsolute differences between Native and non—Native culturesin order to protect the interests and values of the Native143community. She believes, for example, that in the Englishworld view the universe is divided “into two parts: thenatural and the supernatural” (p. 8). And in the dominantwhite society people are thought to be separate from both ofthese worlds. American Indians, on the other hand do notexperience such alienation from the natural and spiritualrealms, but instead, “every story, every song, everyceremony tells the Indian that each creature is part of aliving whole and that all parts of that whole are related toone another by virtue of their participation in the whole ofbeing” (p. 8)Allen also believes that Native thought is “essentiallymystical and psychic in nature” (p. 15) . This, therefore,enables Native people to live in harmony with the universe:Underlying all their complexity, traditional AmericanIndian literatures possess a unity and harmony ofsymbol, structure and articulation that is peculiar tothe American Indian world. This harmony is based onthe perceived harmony of the universe and on thousandsof years of refinement. This essential sense of unityamong all things flows like a clear stream through thesongs and stories of the peoples of the WesternHemisphere. (p. 21)As a general description of cultural difference Allen’sargument is very compelling, and, as Cornell (1987) warnsreaders of Native literature, to fail to take seriously thebeliefs and values which First Nations writers wish.. toconvey in their texts, and which Native and non-Native144students need to learn to respect, is to move away fromKrupat’s border position and to side once again withEuropean imperialism’s centuries’ old attempt to silence, ifit cannot destroy, Native culture. Thus, by offeringKrupat’s ethnocritical variation of postcolonial theory asan alternative to the archetypal approaches of Paula GunnAllen and Agnes Grant, I am not suggesting an opposingmethodology so much as a modification to their conception,one which gives the students strategies for deconstructingopposing discourses within literatures by and about Nativeculture, while it also encourages them to use theirimaginations to understand and appreciate to the best oftheir ability the beliefs and values of Native people. Toillustrate how postcolonial readings can move beyonddisputes over essences and into ethnocritical interrogationsof representations of Native culture, I turn now to someexcerpts from my QAC students’ response journal entriesabout Emma Lee Warrior’s short story, Compatriotsll (1990).Warrior’s story takes place on a Blackfoot reservationin the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and concerns avisit made to the reserve by a German tourist named Hilda.Hilda is shown around the community by a young Nativemother, Lucy, who is suffering both from the hardships ofpoverty and from her husband’s alcohol abuse. Hilda is145anxious to meet her compatriot, Helmut Walking Eagle, who isthe German author of the book, Indian Medicines: A Revivalof Ancient Cures and Ceremonies, and who lives on thereserve with his Blackfoot wife, Elsie, in a “big tepee witha Winnebago beside it” (p. 57). The story is full ofwonderful ironies one of the more significant of which isthat Hilda is so anxious to experience an authentic Nativesun dance, and to meet Helmut, that she completely fails tonotice the realities of Native life which are staring her inthe face.One of my OAC students, Erica, had two personal reasonsfor being particularly interested in the issues raised byWarrior’s story. The first is that for many years herparents had run a summer Drama Workshop for Native actors,so, ever since Erica was a small child, she had spent hersummer holidays living and playing with Native artists ather home. The second reason for Erica’s special interest inNative literature is that her older sister was an adoptedNative. It was therefore interesting to see the ways inwhich Erica’s special perspective on colonialism and Nativeissues helped her to carry out her ethnocritical analysis ofWarrior’s story. Here is what Erica observed, then, about“Compatriots” by Emma Lee Warrior:146As an outsider, Hilda expected the Natives to bestill extremely involved in their religion and shefinds it strange that Lucy has never been to a sundance. She also can’t wait to meet Helmut WalkingEagle because, for her, he seems to epitomize what anIndian should be, even though he is not really Native.I think Hilda represents the members of white societywho want to keep the Natives whooping, hollering,savages.Lucy represents a typical Native woman, in atypical Native situation. She does not have all theamenities that we are used to, no running water orwashing machine; instead, she has a husband who drinksand stays out all night. And yet Lucy is a verystrong, independent person who has her own ideas onreligion that she’s not afraid to show.The other thing I noticed is how much of acommunity everyone is. Family ties are observed, nomatter how distant they are, and everyone wants to helpeveryone, in some small way; this is encouraging,although there is still some in-fighting which is truein every family.But perhaps the most interesting part of the storyis Helmut Walking Eagle, the German turned “Native.”To me he epitomizes everything Natives are not. Notonly does he practice a mixture of Indian religions hewas not raised with, but also, he wrote a book about itfor a white audience. Religion is, and always hasbeen, something sacred and special to the Indians, notsomething they would write such a book about. And totop it all off, Helmut Walking Eagle is very rude toHilda and to Lucy. This is just the opposite of whatall the other Natives have demonstrated in this storywhich proves you cannot become Native just because youwant to be. It’s something you’re born and raisedwith, something special.If we consider to what extent Erica’s postcolonialinterpretation of the story reveals the level ofmulticultural literacy which her reading has attained Ithink it is clear that, had she only been examining thestory from an archetypal perspective in an attempt, forexample, to understand the significance of Warrior’s147references to the sun dance, then she would probably havelost sight of the many important postcolonial issues raisedby Warrior. Instead, Erica appreciated the fact, forinstance, that Lucy was not interested in the sun dancebecause she did not have the freedom Helmut Walking Eagleenjoyed to dabble in various Native religious rituals forpersonal profit. Lucy was too busy experiencing therealities of contemporary Native life by taking care of herrelatives and doing favours for her friends to have the timeto play at being a Native the way Helmut and Hilda tried todo. Partially because Erica had spent her life growing upwith a Native sister and Native friends, but also, I think,because she was sensitized by her reading of the fiction ofpostcolonial writers such as Chinua Achebe and Alice Walker,she was made aware of the problematic nature of therepresentations of Native people and culture which Warriorbrought together in the conflicting discourses of theinterloping compatriots, Helmut and Hilda, on the one hand,and of the oppressed Lucy on the other.Another student, Sara Jean, like Erica, was alsopredisposed to perform a very interesting postcolonialinterpretation of Warrior’s story. Sara Jean’s mother isNative and her father is white, so she found herselfexamining the story’s characters from both Native and non—148Native perspectives. Unlike Erica, however, notice thatSara Jean does not fall into the trap of referring to“typical Natives” in “typical Native situations.” Instead,Sara Jean claims that, although there are differencesbetween the Native and non—Native perspectives, she realizesthat these differences are too complicated to be explainedin the stereotypical terms to which Erica resorts:I really liked this story. From my ownexperience, its really true. There is something aboutwhites trying to be Indian which is totally hilarious.It doesn’t matter how hard a Native tries, he or shewill always be considered a Native first. I don’t knowif I’ve really explained this adequately. Because I amhalf Native and half white, I fit into both worlds.However, I seem to have a deeper affinity with myNative side. A Native perspective is different.Again, I don’t think my explanation is very good. Ican’t explain the difference.A sun dance, wow. I don’t think that Hilda wouldbe able to grasp the spiritual implications of thisceremony. I thought it was interesting that the authordid not explain exactly what a sun dance is.I found the character, Helmut Walking Eagle, tobe ridiculous. I found in his character something soarrogant and obnoxious; he made himself an Indian.What a freak! Ha.I thought the story was admirable in that therewas not an attempt to hide the poverty of Indianreserves. Alcoholism, no running water, substanceabuse — it’s all real life. I am so angered at the wayNative people have been treated. I personally thinkthat the treatment of the Natives of Canada is causefor national shame. While all other ethnic groups arebenefitting from an all-embracing multicultural policy,Native peoples continue to live in horrible conditions.Davis Inlet is only one example of this. It just makesme sick.149From Sara Jean’s perspective it was fitting that themysteries of the sun dance should not be explained to anoutsider such as Hilda. As George Cornell pointed outearlier in this chapter, the oral tradition carries with it“messages and meanings which must not be misconstrued”(1987, p. 177). One of the important indications thatstudents have achieved a degree of multicultural literacy isthat they can recognize when an author like Warrior hasshown them values and beliefs which are worthy of respect.And they can also recognize harmful effects of thediscourses of imperialism exhibited in this case in boththeir foolishly naive manifestation in the words spoken byHilda, and in their more oppressive and malignant form inthe spoken and written words of Helmut.Finally, Claire, whose independent study projectinvolved a comparison of representations of Nativespirituality in Brian Moore’s Black Robe (1985) and TomsonHighway’s The Rez Sisters (1988), examines some of thebarriers to intercultural communication which exist betweenthe Native and German characters in “Compatriots”:This story shows the attitudes that whites holdagainst Natives. However, I feel that all of thecharacters in the story are unsure of who they are orwho they want to be. For example, Hilda wants to gainknowledge about the Indian culture and feels anaffinity with Helmut Walking Eagle because they areboth German. Sonny, Lucy’s uncle, claims, however,150that he could “never turn into a white man.” It isobvious that the Germans (and all whites) take Nativesfor granted. We only want to partake in their cultureto experience its enjoyable aspects, but fail to takeresponsibility for its downfalls. This is indeed ourresponsibility because we are denying the Natives equalopportunities and the right to unconditionally respecttheir own culture. Although Sonny claims that he couldnever become a white man, white culture has been forcedupon Natives and forces them to compromise themselvesto attempt to be a part of our white, Western world.It is ironic that Hilda maintains that Helmut WalkingEagle would have something to share with her becausethis story implies that between cultures, nothing canbe guaranteed.What each of these interpretations of the storyillustrates about ethnocritical interpretations as opposedto archetypal criticisms of such Native literature is thatthe students learned more from interrogating the conflictingdiscourses within the story than they would have understoodfrom simply identifying the significance of the sun dance,for example, as an essential, archetypal feature of Nativesociety. By recognizing the hypocrisy in Helmut WalkingEagle’s appropriation of Native culture, all three studentshave situated themselves within the story’s textual terrain.They do not want to be like Hilda, foolishly looking forsome essential mystical communion with the Natives, becausethey empathize with the realities of Lucy’s existence. Boththe students’ willingness to question their own culturalassumptions while they attempted their ethnocritical bordercrossings and Emma Lee Warrior’s wonderfully instructive151juxtapositions of real and stereotypical representations ofNative culture, enabled- Erica, Sara Jean, and Claire toperform postcolonial interpretations notable for far morethan their aesthetic insights.If, as the above analyses by my OAC students seem toillustrate, the most important feature of ethnocriticism isthe attempts which its practitioners make to move back andforth between the world views of Native and non-Nativesocieties in order to play with the notions of differenceheld by each group about self and Other, then I would arguethat it is necessary for border pedagogues to find ways notonly to introduce non-Native students to Native issuesthrough their exposure to First Nations literature but alsothrough contact with Native communities. This, therefore,is what I attempted to accomplish with a grade 12 class ofEnglish students in Ontario in March of 1993 when Iconnected them via computer with the students of CoidwaterSchool at a Reservation near Merritt, British Columbia.In the February 22, 1993 Maclean’s magazine articletitled, Pride and Prejudice: A School Boosts NativeEsteem,” Hal Quinn reported on the changes that have beentaking place in the lives of students on a Salish NativeReserve in British Columbia since the Coldwater Band of theNkl’kumpx nation opened its school in 1985. As one of the152teachers, Joseph Kalfics, told Quinn, during the school’sfirst year of operation the students’ self-esteem wasdangerously low:The intermediate class, the 13- to l5-year-olds, werequiet - there was no expression on their faces. [Thestudents had a] negative image of themselves.... Justfive years ago, of 10 students, I might have four orfive that could be called ‘high risk suicides.’ Onedid commit suicide in 1987.... Now, of 10 students, Imight have one, maybe two, that are ‘high risk.’ Nowthe students are alive, vibrant - and curious. (p. 45)There were many reasons why the students were depressedbefore the school opened. One of the major problems thatthe children were forced to deal with before the four-portable school was established on the Reserve was that theywere attending school in Merritt where white and East Indianadolescents treated them with disdain. And it was not onlythe teenagers of Merritt who made life difficult for thechildren of the Coldwater Reserve. As Quinn describes oneepisode:Dianne was working behind the counter of the localDixie Lee restaurant when a middle-aged man and womanentered. They looked at the young waitressdisparagingly, then ordered ice-cream cones. Diannetook two cones from the dispenser and wrapped tissuearound their stems. The couple told Dianne that theydid not want the cones - because she had touched them.Instead, they asked that she serve their ice cream inbowls. Dianne picked up a bowl by its base. Thecouple insisted that they would select their own bowls- and hold them while she scooped in the ice cream. “Iwas so mad,” [recalled] Dianne. “I walked straightback to the boss’s office and told her that if those153people had something against the color of my skin, Iwas not going to serve them.” (p. 44)While the above description of the relationship betweenthe students from the Coidwater Reserve and the people ofthe Merritt community may have been sensationalized forpublication in a nationally distributed magazine, it isstill clearly the case that the elders of the Colderwaterreserve were sufficiently disturbed by the reports of racialdiscrimination which they had heard from their children todecide to remove them from the Merritt school system. Theythen constructed their own school on the reserve in order tobe able to raise their children in a less hostileenvironment. The result of this change has been that thestudents are gaining pride in themselves and in theircommunity. The most recent venture to develop the studentsesteem, for example, involved their drawing a blueprint fora new school to replace the four portables in which theirpresent school is housed. This new school is to be built inthe shape of a si’stkin which is “a circular, sunkenstructure with a log base and domed roof, through whichextends a ceremonial notched pole. ...The Coldwater band iscommitted to constructing a new school, and the studentshope that elements of their design will be incorporated intothe final structure” (p. 45).154In early March of 1993, just shortly after the Macleansarticle was published, I was fortunate to be able to connectmy Ontario grade 12 English students with the Coidwaterstudents through a computer network called Kids from Kanata.The coordinator of the network, Jonn Ord, introduced me toDaryll Vermiere, a computer teacher at the Coldwater school,and arranged for the two of us to be able to send e—mailmessages back and forth between our students as frequentlyas we wished during the months of March, April, May, andJune, 1993. Jonn Ord proved to be a very efficient andhelpful coordinator and Daryll Vermiere a willing andsensitive teacher so that we were able to accomplish muchduring the months when our students worked together onvarious projects which were intended to encourage them toshare information on cultural heritage, Native literature,and community life. I had been aware of the benefits forNative and non-Native students of computer—mediatedintercultural communications, however, because of an articleI had read by Jeffrey Schwartz (1990) even before I beganthis cooperative venture with Daryll Vermiere.When Schwartz enabled his Pennsylvanian high schoolstudents to take part in computer—mediated communicationwith the students of Little Wound High School at the PineRidge Sioux Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota, he was155interested in “the interactive possibilities oftelecommunications for creating a real writing context” (p.18) in which students from two different cultures couldshare personal opinions and create emotional bonds. Thestudents were thus encouraged to “express and analyze theirstereotypes”(p.20) and to “see themselves differently inrelation to their world” (p. 24). And he found that they,therefore, became highly motivated to question their ownstereotypical cultural assumptions in response to the newinsights which they received from their e-mail partners.One of my goals in connecting my grade 12 English class withthe Coidwater students, then, was to give my students theopportunity to understand Native literature and culture withthe help of the insights of their Native key pals. Butthere was another dimension to this particular interculturalcollaborative effort and that was to teach my students to beconsiderate of the feelings and educational needs of theColdwater students. Because, as Joseph Kalfics pointed out,his students had been “at risk” before they moved out of theMerritt school system and had undergone some disturbingexperiences at the hands of the white community in Merritt,I wanted their attempts now at reaching out to the whitecommunity in Ontario to be both educationally andemotionally rewarding for them.156As Daryll Vermiere’s students discussed Native poetrywith us, for instance, I wanted them not only to enjoy thepoetry for its own sake but also to learn something aboutthemselves in the process. In the early days of theproject, therefore, as I thought about my goals for theCoidwater students, I had in mind, for example, the work ofKurt Lucas who attempted to empower his Navajo students byexposing them to postcolonial literature. When Kurt Lucasset out to find a way to provide his Navajo high schoolstudents, in Rock Point, Arizona, with reading materials andactivities which would enable them to discuss issues such as“racial misunderstandings, inequities of power, and shiftsin traditional values and beliefs” (1990, p. 54), he foundthat postcolonial texts from Africa, the Carribean, and thePacific served their needs well. For example, as they readChinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart (1959), Lucas’sstudents learned how “the arrival of the British in the late1800s, with their new religion and educational system” (p.55), altered the lives of the protagonist, Okonkwo, and hispeople. Lucas observed that this “novel’s theme oftraditions falling apart and giving way to cultural anarchyholds great appeal for modern students who grow up in aworld much different from the one their parents knew aschildren” (p. 55).157Similarly, when they read together Andre Brink’s novelabout South African apartheid1 A Dry White Season (1979),Lucas’s Navajo students were “outraged by the novel’s themeof human dignity torn asunder, a theme which (stimulated)lengthy discussions about race, human injustice, andcollective responsibility for social wrongs” (p. 56). Andwhen they studied James Ngugi’s novel, Weep Not Child(1964), Lucas’s students could easily understand theproblems of the main character, Njoroge, as he is forced tochoose between “the traditions of his family and the lure ofthe colonialists’ education system”(p.56). As Lucaspointed out, “the students relate well to [Ngugi’s) work,realizing that they too are searching for a balance betweentheir Navajo traditions and the promises of Anglo education”(p. 56).When my students and I began working with DaryllVermiere and his students, I realized that if this projectwas to meet the needs of the Coldwater students and theirparents, then, just as Lucas’s Navajo students had foundopportunities for personal growth through their reading ofpostcolonial literature, so the Native community had a rightto expect this project to be relevant to their interests andconcerns. The first step in the collaborative processbetween my students and the Coldwater students, therefore,158was to find out what they could about each other through thesharing of information about themselves, their schools andtheir cämmunities. My students had some concerns about therelationship that they were entering into with the Coldwaterstudents as is evident from the following remarks by Ethan:I will be honest with you, I don’t really have muchcontact with Native people or Native culture. My areais about 99% non-Native. I feel I’m a pretty open-minded person, but I am still a bit nervous. Pleaseunderstand that all my life I have lived in an areawhere the rednecks run the government and it seems likethe Klu Klux Klan could be just around the corner. Ihave had experience with other cultures, and I havealways accepted people as people, nothing else.Another one of my students, Karen, in her introductorymessage broached the topic of race relations in this way:If you want to know, I like Pepsi more than Coke,but I like Sprite more than 7-UP. I like Pizza Hutpizza, and I also like potatoes. Unfortunately, myfamily is of an oriental descent, so my parents make meeat white rice a lot.Being a minority in this area is quitefrustrating. There are very few families of adifferent ethnic origin other than whites in the areathat I live in. I have a feeling that some of you whoare going to read this are in a similar situation.From Dianne, the Coidwater student who had beenfeatured in the Maclean’s article, we received the followingintroductory message:Hello. My name is Dianne. I am a grade 12 student. Ihave lived in Merritt on the Coldwater Reserve all mylife. My Mom and Dad are separated. I live with myMom. I have two sisters, one older and one younger.The older sister is a half sister on my Dad’s side. Ialso have one older brother. I have a nephew and a159niece, and another will be born in July of 93. I amnineteen years old and my birthday is on July 23. I ama Native Indian and I come from the Thompson tribe. Ienjoy the outdoors and like taking risks andchallenges. For the coming school year I hope to go tocollege in Kamloops B.C. My dream is to become alawyer. I’m not exactly sure yet. I think I’ll justkeep on continuing my education and then decide laterwhat I want to do with myself. I think this is a greatway to meet people and get to know their backgrounds.All my relations,DianneAfter the initial introductions were finished thestudents shared information with each other about theirschools and communities. In this following passage, forinstance, Candice provided us with some information aboutthe Coidwater community:On the reserve, there are a few big families. Afamily household usually consists of 2 to 8 children,the parents, and sometimes the grandparents or aunts &uncles. The adults usually all help with the rent.Families usually hunt and fish during the seasons,and when the salmon come through the Fraser river, themen and some of the girls & ladies go down with dipnets, and gill nets to stock up for the winter. Game ishunted, trout are caught, so that if people get tightfor money, they don’t have to worry about not eatingwell. (Not that they don’t like their beef and pork!)The families here all enjoy basically the samethings, having fun and spending time with relatives,and most of all, knowing when to separate work fromplay.In W.H. New’s introduction to his text, Native Writersand Canadian Writing (1990), he discusses the need for nonNative Canadians to “learn to listen” to the words of Nativewriters such as Daniel David Moses:160Growing up, [Moses] understood that [his family’sMohawk] language constructed reality in one way; as anadult, he caine to know that the language surroundinghim was asking him to live in another way. Could hereconcile the two sets of expectations? Should he haveto? Could he live with both? Would the divisionbetween the two make living with both unbearable? Thisis, [Moses] writes, “a world where Native people,Native traditions assume the existence of a spiritworld as a given, a gift, and where non—Native peoplescoff or keep secrets.” Such a division both displaysand constructs a hierarchy of power. Scoff ing is arefusal to listen, sometimes in case the alternativeshould prove to be more compelling than the conventionaccepted as normality. Sometimes people are willing tolisten only to the voices that confirm the conventionsthey already know. The unfamiliar makes them fear. Ormakes them condescend. Neither fear nor condescensionencourages listening. And no one who does not listenlearns to hear. (p. 4)In the messages which the Coidwater students wrote tous about their community life, cultural values, andeducational goals, they were telling my students about a wayof life that was difficult to understand from theAnglocentric perspective held by the majority of the class.Thus, my students had to “learn to listen” with respect andopen minds to the Coldwater students discussions of ideasand experiences which were difficult for us fully toappreciate and accept. Consider, for example, Mike’sdescription of his grandmother:My grandma lives just a couple of houses away. Itry to visit her as much as I can. Every time I visither she tells me a bunch of stories about the past.Her stories can go on and on. She has a story aboutgold being on one of these mountains around here. Shehasn’t told anyone except me and my mom. She won’ttell us which mountain it is though. My mom used to be161the special one to my grandma. My grandma used to takemy mom everywhere with her. Once she even took my momon a mountain and showed her a sacred rock withdrawings all over it. It was told that if anyone wasto take this rock that they were going to have bad luckfor the rest of their lives. I also heard that acouple of guys found an old burial ground and tooksomething from it. As they were going down themountain they ran off the road and were both killed.My mom also found an old cave with an old bowl withdrawings in it. Those were the stories I was told bymy grandmother.Even though some of my grade 12 students may have foundit difficult to understand how Mike could believe hisgrandmother’s tales of sacred rocks and haunted burialgrounds, by comparing their admiration for their owngrandparents’ wisdom to Mike’s high regard for hisgrandmother’s mystical knowledge, they were better able toacknowledge the value of the Coldwater community’s worldview. Mike had shared these stories about his grandmotherwith us as part of an activity involving the reading of apoem by Daniel David Moses titled “Blue Moon” about thedeath of his grandfather, and another by Louise BerniceHalfe called “Grandmother” (See Appendix A). The studentsin both schools read these two poems and then used them asstarting points for discussing with each other theirrelationships with their grandparents. We soon discoveredinteresting similarities and differences between the twocommunities. While we were in the middle of this poetry162unit, for instance, we received the following message fromDaryll Vermiere:In this project, our students are expressing theirthoughts on the poem Grandmother, but most of them arethinking about Grandfather right now. This past Sundayan elder, Sandy Aijam, passed away. Sandy wasgrandfather or related in some way to many of ourstudents who are participating in this project.In respect for Mr. Aijam, many of our studentshave been away from school, and are comforting, orbeing comforted by other family members. The CoidwaterSchool will close this afternoon so all who choose mayattend services.As an outsider looking in, I have consistentlyseen this community close shop and stop everything theyare doing and pull together in times of sadness orcrisis.My students in Ontario were very moved by the strongfeelings of respect which the Coidwater students showed fortheir elders, and for the stories which they would tell, sothey responded, in turn, with carefully considered thoughtsabout the poems and about their own grandparents. Natalie,for instance, had this to say:To me the poem, “Grandmother,” seems to show theaging of people. It reveals the problems that theyencounter physically, and reveals how they spend agreat deal of time alone. Regardless of their age, andphysical limitations, they still work hard andvigorously.The poem, “Blue Moon,” also reveals the physicallimitations that elderly people experience, and theproblems that they develop physically. When it isstated, “Perhaps we should keep away from the way themoon’s also losing its colour,” this shows how manypeople today are tempted to reject their parents whenthey are ailing. They view them as a hindrance and anuisance. I believe it also shows how the objects ofnature make us remember elderly people. Various163characteristics that they have come alive when we seethese characteristics as well in nature.Near the end of the three months of our communicationswith eaOh other we decided to take part in what is termed a“real-time-chat.” A third school, in Springdale,Newfoundland, which had recently begun communicating withus, joined in on the chat session as well. Computer chatswork rather like telephone conference calls. We selected atime when all three groups of students could be at theircomputers (which turned out to be 1:00 pm, Ontario time) andthen each teacher dialed into the Kids from Kanataelectronic bulletin board system to join the chat. In mycomputer room and in the Newfoundland classroom studentsviewed the conversation as it was shown on a large screenusing a liquid crystal diode display with an overheadprojector, while in Coldwater the students did not have thisluxury and, instead, gathered around a normal computerscreen. During the week leading up to the chat Candice andDianne, in Coldwater, suggested guidelines for thediscussion in which they listed a number of questions whichwe might consider about racism, jobs, education, culture,and the standard of living. Concerning racism they askedus, “Is racism an issue in your school or community?Between which cultures is there the most conflict? How doyou respond when you see racism?”164While the chat which took place, in itself, was notvery interesting, the discussions about racism whichsubsequently developed in my classroom as a result of thechat session proved to be most worthwhile (To read atranscript of an excerpt from the chat, please see AppendixB). After the session Daryll and I wrote several messagesto each in which we came to the conclusion that one of themost significant effects for the students of havingcommunicated with each other in this session and over theprevious three months was that they not only “learned tolisten” carefully to the voices of their distant keypals,but, especially in the case of my students, they alsolearned to listen carefully for the first time to people intheir own class whom they thought they had “known” foryears.At a point late in the session the Coldwater studentsasked us specifically whether or not racism was a problem inour school. While most of the white students in the classsaid amongst themselves that it was not a problem, Philana,who was at the keyboard (and who is half-African-Canadian)claimed that racism definitely was a problem for her. ThenKaren and Sam (who are Chinese), and Pete (who is Inuit)agreed with Philana, and, suddenly, nobody was looking atthe screen because a debate about racism in our school was165in full flight. Some of the more vocal members of the classargued that Karen and Philana were exaggerating the extentof the problem, but they refused to back down from theirposition. Because the period was drawing to a close Isuggested that we pick up the discussion at the beginning ofthe next class and we left the room wondering just what hadhappened to us all.After school that day, Karen and I talked about thesituation for almost an hour. Then she and Philana spentthat evening preparing to lead a class discussion the nextday about the issue. When they arrived for class they saidthat they were ready to speak their minds with the help ofsome of their friends who had already agreed with them thatracism is a problem in our community. We began bydiscussing the situations of the Jamaican and Mexicanmigrant labourers who worked in the apple orchards of ourcommunity each autumn. Then we moved on to discuss racialproblems within the school itself. Once the intense, hour-long discussion was well underway, Karen decided todescribed for her peers the time in grade 9 when a group offootball players threw stones at her. Then she told themthat when some of the elementary school children, where sheworks as a teaching assistant, made racist remarks theirteacher said nothing to them and told Karen to ignore the166racist slurs. After hearing what the people of colour inthe class had to say, the white students were, I think,genuinely moved and surprised by what they had heard aboutracism in the school and community. After the discussionmany students sought out Philana to discuss the issue withher, and she said that she was pleased to see that peoplereally did seem to care.What I think these experiences in “learning to listen”illustrate is that students from Ontario and Coldwater didhave valuable information to share with each other,information which helped members of both groups to thinkabout who they are and to be proud of how they have learnedto cope with their problems. Whether the task wasinvestigating the home and school situations of teenagers ina distant community, understanding how members of anotherculture relate to their elders and their heritage, orquestioning their personal views of racial difference, thestudents seemed to develop new and richer understandings oftheir key pals as a result of the border crossings attemptedby both groups. From my perspective, in hoping to useliterature and collaborative writing projects to sparkstudent awareness of such postcolonial matters as racism andthe oral tradition, the role that I saw the poetry by DanielDavid Moses and Louise Bernice Halfe serving was not so much167to develop the students’ skills as literary aesthetes as itwas to encourage them to consider how they felt about theircultural beliefs and about their relationships to theirelders. While the students did discuss the symbolicsignificance of relating the Native grandparents to imagesof the moon and the bear, the acquisition of knowledge aboutarchetypal patterns in the poetry was not as important inthis case as was the students’ increased understanding ofeach other’s cultures and communities through theircollaborative intercultural responses to the literature andthrough the discussions which they carried on together aboutissues of importance to them. Thus, I conclude thatpostcolonialism’s border crossing strategies for readingboth literary and socio—cultural texts is superior to thearchetypal conception at enabling students to understandeach other’s cultural similarities and differences and athelping the students to learn to listen to one another withcare and respect.In this chapter, then, I have deconstructed bothaesthetic universalist (Frye) and metaphysical essentialist(Grant and Allen) notions of the archetypal conception ofthe multicultural literature curriculum by contrasting themwith such postcolonial conceptions as Arnold Krupat’sethnocritical approach to the study of Native literature.168As well, I have applied the postcolonial notions of“learning to listen” and “border crossing” to my ownteaching of Native short stories and poems in senior highschool English classes. And I have concluded that the mostimportant challenge in the teaching of Native cultures’sacred archetypal tales is not to determine how such mythsrank in terms of aesthetic value when compared with thetales of other cultures, but to find methods, such as thequestioning of dominant culture, racist stereotypes and theintercultural communication of community values, to developstudents’ respect for the beliefs which are contained withinNative cultural texts, both oral and written.8Notes1. Since 1985 Agnes Grant has also published articles on“Content in Native Literature Programs” (1986b),“Stereotyping of Native People in Literature” (1988),“Contemporary Native Women’ s Voices in Literature” (1990a),and “Voices of Native People in Classroom Literature”(1991), while at the same time she has edited a very usefultextbook, Our Bit of Truth: An Anthology of Native CanadianLiterature (l990b).2. Grant describes Jung’s theory of archetypes as follows:“Archetypes are referred to as psychic residue of numberlessexperiences of the same types, experiences which havehappened, not to the individual but to his ancestors. Theresults of his experiences form the basis of structuralbrain patterns which are passed on as inherited memory.These stories are deeply imbedded in the memory of a people;they help identify and clarify cultural patterns. Thisholds true for all cultures. Primordial archetypes arethose manifested in the early stages of human consciousness;that is, those that are created when society is in a169‘primitive’ state. The way in which these archetypes areinterpreted into symbols and are understood form the variouscultures (1986a, p. 19).3. Jung goes on to say that archetypes “are without knownorigin;’and they reproduce themselves in any time or in anypart of the world — even where transmission by directdescent or ‘cross fertilization’ through migration must beruled out” (1964, p. 58). They occupy in his system ofthought, therefore, the same place as ideal forms occupy inPlato’s. We cannot know the essence of archetypes or idealforms directly, but we can only infer their presence through(re)presentations of them in myths, dreams, and rituals.4. The following selections by and about Natives areincluded in the Wish and Nightmare anthology: “Lullaby ofthe Iroquois” (p. 16), “Manerathiak’s Song” (p. 30), “OldMan and the Beginning of the World” (p. 65), “The Bear Man”(p. 82), “Dance Mad” (p. 153), “Training in Bravery” (p.358). Stories in the anthology which are about Natives butwritten by white authors include “Hiawatha’s Fasting” (p.173) and “A Question of Blood” (p. 246).5. John Willinsky has noted that there are other problemswith the textbook, Wish and Nightmare, and that Frye is notentirely to blame for an anthology which employs a rathermore reductive form of archetypal criticism than Frye,himself, ever practised. “The textbook’s presentation ofarchetypal criticism as the exclusive and necessaryperspective in understanding literature’s revelation is bestset within Frye’s own scholarship/teaching perspective. Inthe Anatomy of Criticism (1957), he aligns himself with theprinciple of what he terms polysemous meaning, which isgenerated by a variety of critical lenses; it is ‘the way ofscholarship,’ he points out, as opposed to the pursuit ofone critical method to the exclusion of the others, which is‘the way of pedantry’ (p. 72)” (Willinsky, 1991, p. 162).6. I am indebted to Sheryl Little for sharing with me hergrade 11 Native Literature Curriculum Outline for a coursewhich she plans to begin teaching to a mixture of SixNations Native students and non—Native students in Februaryof 1994. Of particular interest in Little’s course is theway in which she plans to handle the difficult problem ofteaching the oral tradition. Little says in her outlinethat, besides having the students perform works from theoral tradition which she has found in anthologies by DanielDavid Moses and Penny Petrone, her students will also “be170encouraged to research their own oral stories from eldersand relatives. [As well) guest speakers will be invited infrom the neighbouring reserve communities.” She plans, forinstance, to invite Native writer Richard Greene to workwith her students while they research, write, and dramatizetheir own oral stories. Another indication of the stronglink which her course provides between the Native communityand the school system is that before Little will be allowedto teach the course a Community Advisory Panel comprised ofNative parents has been granted the power to approve orreject Little’s proposed course.7. Some of the other questions raised by Candice and Diannewere contained in the following message to us:Issues of ConcernWe have listed a few issues and some questions. Wealso will be asking more questions on these and moretopics during our chat on June 1. We brought together ashort document on them.1) Jobs! EducationAre there enough jobs available for students?Do you feel that your school system is properlyeducating you to go out into the work force?2) CultureAre there things about your culture you are stilllearning?What is your culture?What kinds of things do you do in everyday lifethat are part of your culture?3) Standard of LivingDo you expect to get a job once you graduate?What do you consider to be an acceptable standardliving?Is individual housing a problem?How many graduates tend to go on your own, or doyou stay at home?The issues you brought up about teenage problemsare also a concern to us: drinking, drop outs,pregnancy, drug abuse, suicide, and aids.8. For teachers who wish to develop their own interculturalsensitivity to Native issues by communicating with Nativepeople across North America, I highly recommend that theyjoin the Internet computer conference known as“soc.culture.native” which is moderated by Michael Wilson atCornell University. Although many teachers do not yet haveaccess to Internet communications, this, I believe, willsoon change. For instance, in Ontario there are more than1712,000 teachers connected to the Internet through anorganization called the Electronic Village. Thisorganization is funded in part by the Ontario TeachersFederation, so high school teachers like myself have becomeinvolved in international computer communications at no costto themselves or to their schools.Michael Wilson’s Internet address isidoy@cruxl.cit.cornell.edu, and teachers who wish to jointhe conference need simply contact him to find out how tobecome participants in this fascinating and very activeforum. Some of the topics for discussion onsoc.culture.native, for example, are “Spirituality and theWorld,” “What Indian Activism Means to Me,” and “Rationalismand Racism.”172Chapter 5The Feminist ConceptionDespite the fact that the international feministmovement during the past thirty years, through its powerfulindictment of patriarchal oppression within governments andjudicial systems, has made steady, if often small, gains inbringing about improved living circumstances for womenaround the world, mainstream feminist theory and pedagogyin North America and Europe has tended to consider the“universal” (i.e., Eurocentric) features of women’sexperiences as the ones most worthy of discussion inliterary criticism and in high school English courses oninternational women’s literature. Thus, feministinterpretations of multicultural literature have oftenoverlooked the differences which exist between the lives ofwhite women and women of colour. And local, culturaldifferences in women’s experiences have usually beenignored in favour of discovering how literary works reflectthe “universal” problems faced by a global sisterhood.Focussing upon autobiographical fiction by Chinese andChinese—American women, therefore, I illustrate in thischapter how postcolonial interpretations of representationsof the women in these works can provide high schoolstudents with more complex and heterogeneous constructions173of Chinese women than are available in traditional feministinterpretations of them.I concentrate upon autobiographical fiction herebecause it affords, as well, a good opportunity to discusshow notions of self, Other, and place are fashioned withinautobiographical texts and how students can learn to usetheir deconstructions of professional autobiography toteach themselves more about their own attempts to writeabout themselves and about their relationships to otherpeople and cultures. Where mainstream feminists such asliterary theorist, Sidonie Smith (1987), recognize thatautobiography can serve as an important vehicle fordeconstructing and reconstructing definitions of thegendered self, postcolonial critics such as Lisa Lowe(1991) attempt, as well, to play with representations ofracial and cultural difference in their analyses of theautobiographical fiction of a Maxine Hong Kingston or anAmy Tan.Feminism is obviously not a monolithic and unifiedtheory. Many feminists, in fact, believe their theoreticalstance to be pluralistic and to embrace multipleperspectives. My purpose in designating the feministconception of the multicultural literature curriculum,then, is not so much to force closure upon the definition174of feminism as it is to look for some of the more pervasiveconcerns of feminist approaches to literary study whichwould differentiate this conception from the others I amanalysing in this dissertation.Later in the chapter I provide two examples of highschool teachers’ feminist conceptions of theirmulticultural literature curricula so that I may ground myremarks in a workable set of examples, but before doingthat I wish to preface this analysis with some generaldiscussion about what I believe feminism to mean for mypurposes here. Cheryl Torsney’s metaphor of “the quilt”provides a useful image for the way in which variousschools fit together to form a general feminist approach tothe study of literature. Torsney describes the feministcritical quilt as follows:Behind the top is the batting, that which gives thequilt its utilitarian substance, the insulatingmaterial that each piece of the top shares in commonwith each other piece: the conviction that one canread, write, and interpret as a woman. The piecedtop, however, is that which presents the alternatives.The blocks may vary as to pattern or fabric, instructure and in texture. Not every block need bestitched by a woman, nor are contiguous blocksnecessarily complementary. Yet even in itstheoretical difference, each block is stitched tosister blocks. They share and make a space, creatingthe feminist critical quilt, offering myriadalternatives to androcentric criticism. So, insteadof the metaphor, for example, of the well—wrought urnin which each element reinforces the value of thesingle artifact, feminist criticism offers us a175critical quilt of plurality, strong and varied, piecedin community. (1989, p. 180)Even Elaine Showalter (1990), who according to SydneyJanet Kaplan (1985) has been a major advocate for amonolithic theory of feminism, has provided her own briefclassification of some of the major patches of this quiltas she distinguishes, for instance, between the feminismsof the United States, England, France, and West Germany.Showalter has argued that each of these countries haveworked out the following distinct versions of feminism. Inthe United States African-American criticism,poststructuralism and gender theory have all become part ofmainstream feminist theory so that, for example, blackfeminist theory has developed in parallel with other modesof feminist inquiry. In England feminist reading groups ofthe l970s were being influenced by the work of EuropeanMarxist theorists such as Louis Althusser, Antonio Gramsci,and Walter Benjamin. However, Showalter reports that “workon race and gender [was) only beginning to appear in thelate 1980s” (1990, p. 184). In France, the writings ofHelene Cixous, Luce Irigaray, and Julia Kristeva, though“different in their orientation and styles” (p. 185), weredevoted to employing psychoanalysis, semiotics, anddeconstruction to critique western phallocentric thinkingin an attempt to show how Western culture is fundamentally176phallogocentric and how therefore its symbolic discourse isoppressive to women. Curiously though, while feministstudies in the United States have led to many challengesand changes to the traditional canon of literary works, inFrance, there has been very little work produced on womanwriters. German feminist criticism has been particularlyinfluenced by the German hermeneutics, the Frankfurt Schooland reader—response theory. And its political concernshave been primarily with the economics of housework andmotherhood as well as with ecology and peace (p. 186).Despite these variations in the feminist quilt whichShowalter has highlighted, she does observe the followingcommon concerns which transcend national boundaries.Throughout Europe and the United States feminists haveargued that there was a discernible female aesthetic:Women’s writing expressed a distinct femaleconsciousness, and constituted a coherent literarytradition; and argued that feminist critics shouldreject the misogynistic formulas of patriarchalliterary thought to forge a criticism of their own.The female aesthetic proposed the empowerment of thecommon woman reader, and the celebration of anintuitive female critical consciousness in theinterpretation of women’s texts, a consciousness oftenseen as literally or metaphorically lesbian. (p. 187)The female aesthetic provided women with a utopianvision and it generated a great deal of autobiographicaland confessional feminist literature, especially in,177Germany, but as Showalter observes, it suffered from someserious weaknesses as well:In so far as the female aesthetic suggested that onlywomen were qualified to read women’s texts, feministcriticism ran the risk of ghettoization. Moreover,the hypothesis of the female imagination was open tocharges of essentialism and racism; the femaleimagination seemed also to be white. (p. 188)In order to avoid some of the weaknesses of the femaleaesthetic movement Showalter contributed to the formationof the gynocriticism movement in the 198 Os. Two importantassumptions of this approach to feminist literary criticismare: 1) that all literature is marked by gender and 2) thatwomen’s writing is always ‘bitextual’ and therefore indialogue with both masculine and feminine literarytraditions. An important feature of gynocriticism is that“it does not prescribe a particular mode of textualanalysis, and has made extensive use of poststructuralistinsights, especially those having to do with thesignification of the feminine” (p. 191).One of poststructuralisms critical strategies is toquestion how subjectivity is constructed. Thus gynocriticsare forced to deal with the following kinds of questions:“If ‘woman’ is an essentialist concept, are there stillwomen? How can we speak about ‘women’ without ignoring thedifferences between them? And if there are no women to178speak for, why do we need feminist criticism?” (Showalter,pp. 195—196). But, as Showalter observes, such questionsneed not be paralysing. For strategic reasons it isnecessary to retain a notion of female subjective agency,and so she argues that we should consider the femalesubject to possess a necessarily heterogeneous and oftenself—contradictory identity made up of representations ofgender, race, and class. An example of such strategicfemale subjectivity is suggested by bell hooks in herobservations about radical black subjectivity:The ground we stand on is shifting, fragile andunstable. We are avant—garde only to the extent thatwe eschew essentialist notions of identity, andfashion selves that emerge from the meeting of diverseepistemologies, habits of being, concrete classlocations, and radical political commitments. (1990,p. 19)However, even though, as hooks shows us, postcolonialfeminism has the potential to provide students ofmulticultural literature with a more heterogeneous notionof subjectivity than does mainstream feminism, the dangerin privileging the former over the latter, as I do in theremainder of this chapter, is that it then becomes quiteeasy to fall into the trap of “authenticity” in which “onlya black woman can speak for a black; only a postcolonialsubcontinental feminist can adequately represent the livedexperience of that culture” (Suleri, 1992, p. 760).1 It is179certainly not the goal of the postcolonial curriculumconception to limit the interpretations of multiculturalliterature to those produced by a few “authentic” women ofcolour, nor simplistically to elevate the racially femalevoice so that it becomes a metaphor for “the good.”Rather, two important goals of the postcolonial alternativeto mainstream feminist literary critical approaches are toinclude many voices in the discourse community and toencourage students to strive for complex interpretations.These goals cannot be achieved simply by asking students tothink like women of colour. Nor can they be achieved bydirecting students to apply white poststructural feministmoves to the reading of Other cultures. Instead, studentsneed to be shown how postcolonial feminists make specialuses of poststructural reading strategies, and they need,as well, to see how these interpretive strategies candiffer markedly from mainstream feminists’ attempts tounderstand the situations of woman of colour. As GayatriSpivak succinctly states her solution to the problems ofmainstream feminist, Eurocentric (mis)interpretations ofthe “Other,” “in order to learn enough about Third Worldwomen and to develop a different readership, the immenseheterogeneity of the field must be appreciated, and the180First World feminist must learn to stop feeling privilegedas a woman” (1988a, p. 136).Several interesting differences between Eurocentricand postcolonial feminist interpretations of Asian culturecan be seen in the reactions by postcolonial theorists,Lisa Lowe (l991a), Gayatri Spivak (1988), and Rey Chow(1991), to Julia Kristeva’s French feminist interpretationof the Chinese in her text, About Chinese Women (1977). AsLisa Lowe points out, Kristeva’s narrative attempt to provethat Chinese matriarchy is an antecedent of twentieth—century revolutionary society “leaps quickly and simplyacross two thousand years of Chinese history to proposethat, because of China’s matriarchal heritage, thecommunist politics of the People’s Republic hold powerfullessons for the French Left in the 1970s” (1991a, p. 147).The result, according to Lowe, of Kristeva’s grand, andpoorly substantiated, historical generalizations is thatshe “erases the situations of women in contemporary China,the complex interrelation of certain qualified freedomswith remnants of centuries of sexual discrimination andoppression in family, professional, and political life”(1991a, p. 152).One of Gayatri Spivak’s concerns with the analyses inAbout Chinese Women is that, in Kristeva’s interpretations181of manuals on the “Art of the Bedchamber” which date fromthe first century A.D., and in her reading of The Dream ofthe Red Pavilion, a novel of the Qing Dynasty, she makes“no attempt at textual analysis, not even in translation”(1988, P. 139).Rey Chow identifies yet another problem withKristeva’s interpretation of Chinese women:Even though Kristeva sees China in an interesting and,indeed, ‘sympathetic’ way, there is nothing in herarguments as such that cannot be said without ‘China.’What she proposes is not so much learning a lessonfrom a different culture as a different method ofreading from within the West. For, what is claimed tobe ‘unique’ to China is simply understood as the‘negative’ or ‘repressed’ side of Western discourse.(1991, p. 7)Chow believes that one way in which Kristeva and otherfeminists can avoid this Orientalist mistake of readingChina as an absolute “other” of the West is to takeseriously Kristeva’s self—deprecating acknowledgement thatshe is involved in a speculative and culture—bound project,and, thus, to ask “whether the notion that China isabsolutely ‘other’ and unknowable is not itselfproblematic” (p. 8).Kristeva’s Orientalist move, in stereotyping allChinese women as revolutionary in order to show theirspecial connection with a matriarchal past, requires thatshe systematically ignore any evidence of heterogeneity182within Chinese culture. Thus, in the opening pages of hertext we find her representing the Chinese metonymically asa collection of “calm...piercing...unaggressive...eyes...onthe far side of the abyss of time and space” (1977, p. 11).She then says that she wants “to put into relief...onesingle aspect of that which creates the abyss between [her)and the villagers of Huxian: Chinese women, the Chinesefamily, their tradition, their present revolution” (p. 13).But, of course, not all women in l970s China were quite asrevolutionary as Kristeva wished to represent them. Infact, as has become painfully clear since the activities ofthe Red Guard were published in the early 1980s in suchbooks as Liang Heng’s Son of the Revolution (1983), duringthe Cultural Revolution many Chinese women were not at allgood Maoists.2Rey Chow identifies many other examples in Kristeva’stext which illustrate how she views Chinese womenstereotypically because her Eurocentric feminist theoryrefuses to acknowledge that there are many differentstrands of “otherness” in China besides her revolutionaryversion:In glorifying the “subversive” and “liberating” impactTaoism has on Chinese society, ICristeva, like manyWesterners who turn to the “East” for spiritualguidance, must leave aside the consideration thatperhaps it is exactly Taoism’s equation of the female183principle with “silence” and “negativity” thattraditionally allows its coexistence and collaborationwith Confusianism’s misogyny. In a cultureconstructed upon the complicity between these mastersystems, Chinese women not only are oppressed but alsowould support their own oppression through thefeelings of spiritual resignation that are dispersedthroughout Chinese society on a mundane basis.Kristeva is told this bitter truth by a Chinese womanwhom she interviews, but, intent on her own“materialist” reading of China, she does not want tobelieve it.... About Chinese Women repeats, in spiteof itself, the historical tradition in which China hasbeen thought of in terms of an “eternal standstill”since the eighteenth century. By giving the traditiona new reading, Kristeva espouses it again, this timefrom a feminized, negativized perspective. (1991, p.9)Kristeva’s analysis, therefore, tends to essentializeand stereotype women in the service of a Eurocentricinternational feminism. As I proceed now to analyse howteachers have attempted to employ the feminist conceptionof the multicultural literature curriculum, I will bearguing that the postcolonial conception can help teachersand students to avoid Kristeva’s international feministtendency to stereotype Chinese women.In her article, “Feminizing the English Curriculum: AnInternational Perspective” (1989), Dr. Bonnie M. Davisdescribes a course which she teaches to senior high schoolstudents in St. Louis, Missouri, that is centred around aunit comprised of works written by women from “non—Western”countries. Three of these writers, for instance, areNadine Gordimer of South Africa, Kamala Markandaya of184India, and Yuan-tsung Chen of China. One of the goals ofher course is to “inundate [her] students with writings byand about women” (p. 45). In another unit of the samecourse her students read works of fiction by “African—American authors as well as Hispanic, Asian, and Native—American women authors” (p.48) while at the same time theystudy critical works such as Barbara Christian’s BlackFeminist Criticism: Perspectives on Black Women Writers(1985). The course ends with the presentation of positionpapers on such contemporary issues as date—rape,pornography, and the African—American’s role in society.It is clear from Davis’s description of her course that shewants the young men and women in her classes to recognize,not only that there are many fine contemporary womenwriters around the world, but also that by reading theirworks students can come to see women’s issues from aninternational perspective thus causing them to reconsiderboth patriarchal values and American ethnocentrism.Davis’s students are required to make severalpresentations to the class during the course about theliterary works which they are studying. To prepare forthese presentations they also read background informationon demographics and women’s status in society from a widevariety of sources such as Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood Is185Global: The International Women’s Movement Anthology(1984). Davis finds that the student-centred pedagogywhich she employs throughout the course and the feministtheory which her students are encouraged to use in theiranalyses help both to empower the young women (byconvincing them that they are part of a sisterhood which isglobal in its dimensions) and to inform the young men (bypresenting them with a body of literature which they hadpreviously tended to overlook as uninteresting andunimportant to them).At the heart of Davis’s course is her strong beliefthat students should reconsider the significance of theirroles both as members of a Western country and as men orwomen. Although other issues such as racial and colonialoppression are also definitely a part of Davis’s course,her main priority is to raise the feminist consciousness ofher students. Davis’s feminist conception of themulticultural literature curriculum is certainly noteworthyfor the way in which it reconstructs the high schoolliterary canon and for the methods it employs to give herstudents opportunities to see the world through women’seyes. However, her second goal of overcoming the students’American ethnocentrism could prove to be problematic if thefeminist “visors” (p. 45) which she encourages her students186to wear are not sufficiently modified to allow for thevariations in theory which women of colour such as BarbaraChristian have brought to feminist discourse especiallywhere definitions of self and Other are concerned.In the teaching of multicultural literature howstudents define themselves and how they respond to thewriting of women from other cultures will be determined, inpart, by how teachers choose to explain the notion ofautobiography. Davis encourages her students, as part oftheir independent research, to read autobiographicalmaterials by the women writers they are studying. But justhow they are to make use of these materials she does notexplain. This omission is an important one to considerbecause the question of how women use autobiography andautobiographical fiction to define themselves in thestruggle against patriarchal domination has been answereddifferently by different feminists. If students are todeconstruct and reconstruct their notions of who women areand how women should resist patriarchal oppression, then, Iargue, they should be made aware of the different ways inwhich novelists and theorists have chosen to representwomen. Students need this awareness in order to becomemore adept at producing their own self—inscriptions andfeminist interpretations. And if, at the center of both187traditional feminist definitions of women and recentmodifications to these definitions offered by women ofcolour, there are various, sometimes conflicting, notionsof how to represent women in fiction and criticism, then itis necessary to expose students to discrepancies amongthese notions so that they can choose for themselves themethods of representation which they wish to employ intheir responses to multicultural texts by and about women.For example, one of Davis’s students, Jennifer, foundthe novel, The Dragon’s Village (1985), by Yuan-tsung Chento be particularly interesting because of its treatment ofthe theme of a Chinese woman’s quest for the self. “Themain character, advancing to adulthood, left herfinancially and emotionally secure family to help peasantsreadjust to the effects of communism. In the process sheanswered profound questions such as ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why amI here?” (p. 47). At this stage, if Davis were then toask Jennifer to report on how Chen’s character wasfashioned out of the various political, cultural, social,economic, and feminist discourses which intersect toproduce the text, The Dragon’s Village, it is not likelythat her student would possess the necessary knowledge towrite an interesting and complex interpretation. Yet howChen’s main character answered her questions of identity188and what effect the character’s answers then had uponJennifer’s view of Chinese women cannot be adequatelydiscussed if the writer’s and student’s methods of self—construction are not considered within the appropriateintertextual terrain. In other words, although there is atime, during an initial reading of the novel, when Jennifershould experience the pleasure of meeting, woman—to—woman,with Chen’s character as if that fictive construct were aliving human being, Jennifer’s subsequent readings of thetext should enable her to see how this character has beencrafted out of a range of tropes, myths, and conventions.The purpose would not be to write an aesthetic appreciationof Chen’s style (although there is no reason why thestudent should avoid evaluating the novel’s stylisticbeauty if she so wished) but to search for indications inthe text of its ideological underpinnings.If we apply here the first criterion for evaluatingthe effectiveness of multicultural literature curriculumconceptions, it should become clear just how Davis’sfeminist approach could be improved through somepostcolonial modifications. To determine, for instance,the extent to which Jennifer’s critique of the novel hasachieved complexity and sophistication we should ask: howwell does Davis’s feminist curricular approach help her189student to problematize the representations of self, place,and Other which she encounters in her text?Clearly, from a postcolonial feminist perspectiveJennifer would have many more questions to consider aboutthe Chinese woman in The Dragon’s Village thaninternational feminism’s Eurocentric perspective provides.Consider the following postcolonial questions whichJennifer might have asked, over and above those which shehas already employed while using Davis’s mainstreamfeminist approach. If Chen’s character achieved a certainfreedom by leaving her family, what clues are there in theway her family is described, and in the way its memberstalk to each other, that Chen is choosing one definition offamily relations over others? Are the values andrhetorical patterns associated with the family membersindicative of capitalist, Confucian, patriarchal, orChristian ideologies? Is Chen actively rejecting any ofthese ideologies or simply showing a preference for othersto which her character is attracted? Does Jennifer shareChen’s ideological position? If not, then where does shefeel that the novel’s assumptions need to be critiqued? Towhat extent are the differences between Jennifer and Chenattributable to differences in their cultural or politicalidentities? Should Jennifer’s cultural and political190assumptions be reassessed by her in attempting herinterpretation of the novel?What these questions illustrate, then, is that, whenfeminist re-writing of the self takes place in the contextof the multicultural literature classroom, women’s issuesbecome complicated by other factors. In theautobiographical fiction of some Chinese—American writers,for example, feminists are discovering some interestingconflicts and interconnections between issues of sexual andracial difference which call into question traditionalfeminist notions of essential and universal experiences,characteristics, and problems shared by woman throughoutthe world.I have briefly analysed Bonnie Davis’s feministmulticultural literature curriculum with the intention ofestablishing that at the centre of her conception is theissue of how works written by and about women could serveas the starting point for students investigations intowomen’s roles around the world. I have then argued thatnotions of self and Other are constructed out of a varietyof intersecting discourses, and that traditional,Eurocentric feminist ideology by itself does not take intoaccount modifications to our notions of women’s issues thatarise when, for instance, questions of racial difference191are added to the discussion. To explain further howtraditional feminist approaches to teaching multiculturalliterature tend to miss opportunities to recognize some ofthe other important features of these texts I now brieflydiscuss another high school teacher’s attempt to introduceher students to feminist readings of multiculturalliterature.Dr. Nancy Traubitz (1991), who teaches a contemporarymulticultural literature course to senior high schoolEnglish students in Silver Spring, Maryland, has developeda unit around Maxine Hong Kingston’s autobiographicalnovel, The Woman Warrior (1976), in which she invites herstudents to consider the novel from several differentperspectives. First of all she wishes them to use it as astarting point for their discussions of such women’s issuesas: 1) how women are systematically handicapped bysociety’s requirement that they be less assertive than men,2) how women’s work is less valued in our society than ismen’s, and 3) how older women and unattractive women areless valued in society, than are young, beautiful women.Second, she provides her students with questions on eachchapter which are intended to guide them in their writingof literary response journals. For example, thesequestions carefully draw her students’ attention to192important connections between two of Maxine’s aunts whoappear in different and otherwise apparently unrelatedchapters. These questions also encourage students to playwith some of the conventions of the Chinese story-tellingtradition by first focusing their attention upon Kingston’suses of the talk-story techniques in her writing and thenby asking the students to think about how they might createa talk—story about two or three experiences from their ownlives. Third, she attempts, through a series of lectureson Chinese history, art, poetry, mythology, and geography,to provide a cultural context for Kingston’s novel.Fourth, she requires her students to read popularcontemporary novels written by and about a woman, and thento write an essay in which they consider to what extent theprotagonists of their novels are “woman warriors.”Like Bonnie Davis, Nancy Traubitz is primarilyinterested in using this literary work as a source forinteresting perspectives on women’s issues. She also wantsto engage her students on a personal level through thewriting of response journals and through the independentreading assignment. And she sees potential for theautobiographical form as an entry point for her students toconsider the significance of women’s issues and experiencesto their own lives. But, at the same time, Traubitz’s193concentration upon feminist interpretive strategies raisesfor me two questions: 1) How should autobiography beemployed in the feminist multicultural literaturecurriculum? and 2) How are contemporary women of colourmaking adjustments to the “visors” with which the feministmulticultural literature curriculum requires students toread both literary works and the world?In answer to the first question I argue that, whileTraubitz’s unit on The Woman Warrior provides a valuableand impressive starting point for enabling her students tosee themselves and Chinese women in new ways, she needs togive them a more sophisticated notion of how autobiographyworks if they are to understand the complex nature ofKingston’s rhetorical strategies and if they are to writetalk-stories about their own lives which consciously playwith the conventions of autobiography in productive ways.In answer to the second question I argue that, as well asexposing her students to a broad body of writing aboutChina and the Chinese, if Traubitz were to introduce themto interpretations of the novel by Chinese-American womencritics, then her admirable attempt to contextualize thereading of The Woman Warrior could have the added advantageof enabling her students to understand how the feministtheories which they are using to interpret the novel can194themselves be criticized from the perspective of theChinese—woman-as—Other.To prepare my own OAC students for their discussionsabout Chapter 1 of The Woman Warrior, therefore, I providedthem with a variety of interpretations by mainstream andChinese—American feminist critics. To introduce them to acomplex notion of Kingston’s autobiographical writingtechnique, for instance, I discussed with them SidonieSmith’s views on autobiography which she develops in thechapter, “Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior” from herbook, A Poetics of Women’s Autobiography: Marginality andthe Fictions of Self-Representation (1987). Smith argues,for example, that all autobiographies are fictive in thatthe writer “constantly tells ‘a’ story rather than ‘the’story, and tells it ‘this’ way rather than ‘that’ way”(Smith, 1987, p. 46). Because every life contains manydifferent discourses, Smith notes, the autobiographer’stask is problematic. “The very language she uses to nameherself is simultaneously empowering and vitiating sincewords cannot capture the full sense of being and narrativesexplode in multiple directions” (p. 46). The“truthfulness” of autobiography, then, is found “not somuch in the correspondence between word and past, but inthe imbrication of various autobiographical intentions into195form — memoir, apology, confession” (p. 46). The forms anddiscourses at her disposal, however, tend to reproduce“patrilineage and its ideologies of gender” (p. 44) unlessthe woman autobiographer consciously chooses to break withthe traditional myths, metaphors, cultural expectations,and systems of interpretation which constitute thetradition of fictive stories of selfhood.As Smith observes, Maxine Hong Kingston effects such abreak with traditional autobiographical technique in herwriting of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood AmoncGhosts (1976):Recognizing the inextricable relationship between anindividual’s sense of ‘self’ and the community’sstories of selfhood, Kingston self—consciously readsherself into existence through the stories her culturetells about women. Using autobiography to createidentity, she breaks down the hegemony of formal‘autobiography’ and breaks out of the silence that hasbound her culturally to discover a resonant voice ofher own. (p. 151)Smith then proceeds to perform her mainstream feministinterpretation of Chapter 1, “No Name Woman,” by pointingout that Kingston’s mother’s story about the suicide ofMaxine’s aunt back in China serves to contextualize thegirl’s transition into womanhood. Maxine’s aunt issupposed to have given birth to a bastard daughter and thenthrown the daughter and herself down the family well. Onone level, then, the story is a cautionary tale to convince196the young Maxine that she should refrain from sexualintercourse outside of marriage to avoid bringing shame andtragedy to herself and her family. In Smith’s feministinterpretation she sees the aunt’s body while alive as a“potential source of disruption and disintegration in thecommunity... [because] it may entertain strangers and thusintroduce illegitimate children and an alternativegeneology into the order” (Smith, 1987, 153). One of mystudents, Chad, had no difficulty in elaborating thedetails of this mainstream feminist interpretation of thechapter as the following excerpt from his response journalsillustrates:Depending on whether you consider Maxine’s “aunt”as a woman guilty of adultery or a victim of rape shecan be viewed as either a martyr or a tragic victim.In either case most readers would find the treatmentof the aunt to be appalling. Kingston states inregard to her aunt’s baby that it must have been agirl because if it was born a male the mother probablywould not have killed it because it would be treatedbetter than would a girl. This is also shown in thefact that the aunt would not disclose the name of thefather of her baby. The Chinese male-dominatedsociety directly relates to the great sense of familyhonour in China.In a society where male babies are prized overfemale babies, so that the family name can becontinued, the males dominate the family and familypride is linked to having a male baby. Family prideis shown at the very beginning of the story whenKingston’s mother is telling her about how thefather’s family all stand together in the house whileit is being destroyed around them by the villagers.197But, while both Smith and Chad have made astutefeminist critiques of Kingston’s autobiographical narrativetechnique (as when Chad recognizes, for instance, thatthere are at least two possible interpretations of whathappened to the aunt which the story’s unusual method ofnarration yields), and while they both have clearlyidentified Kingston’s subversive representations of theevils of patriarchal oppression in China, like Kristeva,Smith and Chad have also interpreted Chinese culturestereotypically, as if the story were written only tocondemn the global patriarchal oppression of women. Inorder to appreciate the particular Chinese—Americanproblems raised by Chapter 1 of Woman Warrior, therefore,it was necessary for my students, as well, after havingenjoyed the opportunity to develop their own firstimpressions of the story, to encounter, upon a secondreading of it, some interpretations of Kingston’s tale byChinese—American critics.3 These interpretations were givento the students in manageable paragraph excerpts. Theythen discussed amongst themselves their reactions to theseprofessional critics’ interpretations, relying upon theteacher only occasionally for clarification of the critics’technical terminology.198As Lisa Lowe has observed about interpretations of thenovel by Chinese—Americans there have been some interestingdifferences of opinion concerning Kingston’s goals andskill in crafting her tale. Because Kingston’s book is,according to Lowe, “virtually the only ‘canonized’ piece ofAsian American literature” (Lowe, 1991b, p. 33) it isconsidered by many critics such as Frank Chin and BenjaminTong to carry the burden of representing Chinese culture toAmerican readers. In that capacity these men argue thatThe Woman Warrior is assimilationist and, therefore, untrueto the essence of the Chinese people. Sau-ling CynthiaWong describes Benjamin Tong’s position in this way:Tong accuses Kingston of being purposeful ininistranslating Chinese terms to suit white tastes sothat her book would sell better. “She has thesensibility but no conscious, organic connection with[Cantonese) history and psychology...If she and I wereever to meet, she would know that I know she knowsshe’s been catching pigs [tricking whites out of theirmoney by giving them what they think is Chinese] attoo high a price - the selling out of her own people.”(Wong, 1988, p. 3)4In Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s interpretation of WomanWarrior she points out that “Kingston’s books are marked byintertextuality- that is, by layers of interpretations ofearlier literatures and, consequently, by a stylisticinventiveness” (1990, p. 245). Thus Maxine finds herself199as audience, agent, and participant in stories that arebased on both the mythic and historic China.In Veronica Wang’s interpretation of Woman Warrior sheasserts that Maxine has to reconcile the “reality orfiction of Chinese heritage that reaches her through hermother’s mythical yet authoritative ‘talk—stories” (1985,p.23) and the equally confusing messages that sheencounters through her American experiences and education:Both heritages impose external limitations and demandprescribed behaviours even though she is constantlyaware of the remoteness of ancestral China and heressential separation from it, as well as her marginalstatus of exclusion and alientation in the Americansociety. As a Chinese—American woman, Maxine mustcome to terms with her past and present, with Chinaand America, with woman—as—slave and woman—as—warrior,and thus find her own identity and voice, one that isnot externally imposed but self—expressive, bornpainfully out of the experience of alienation andsuffering. (p. 23)In all of these Chinese—American interpretations thestudents were given the chance to consider some of the“intertextual” and intercultural influences at work inKingston’s tale, and this then caused them to move beyonddiscussions of patriarchal oppression and autobiographicalnarrative technique in order to ask themselves questionsabout cultural representation. Tom, for instance, offersthe following interpretation of the traits which Maxine andher ghostly aunt have in common:200I found Kingston to be much like her aunt in that bothare being pursued by their Chinese culture. It isthreatening to consume both of them. The aunt losther life to it and Kingston’s personality is beingshaped by it even though she is attempting to shapeherself on her own. She is also like her parents inthat they too are haunted by a past that they aretrying to forget but cannot.Melinda saw the relationship between Maxine and hermother in cross—cultural terms:The author expresses her embarrassment over herChinese mother’s behaviour after coming to America tolive. She says that she has not been able to stop hermother’s loud voice used even in quiet libraries inthe States. She says, “I have tried to turn myselfAmerican—feminine.” It seems often that children ofChinese immigrants are more eager to become like thosearound them than their parents are.The class discussions about this chapter at timesbecame very heated. Some students, in reaction to VeronicaWang’s remarks about the unreliable quality of thenarrator’s tale, argued that it was difficult anddisturbing to read because they could not decide whichversion of the aunt was the “real” one. Other studentsthen argued that the aunt’s actual identity was beside thepoint, and that she may not even have existed at all butthat she was simply constructed by Maxine’s mother to warnher about the dangers of extra—marital sex. While someyoung women in the class said that the story tells us asmuch about the evils of patriarchy in North America as itdoes about Chinese culture, others listed many details in201the story which they believed were peculiar to Chineseculture and which they wanted help from their classmates inorder to interpret. Thus, much time was devoted toexamining the story’s animal imagery as students discussedwhat the connections might be between the pigs and the aunton the one hand and between her husband and the rooster onthe other hand. And from the students in the class whowere doing independent study projects on Chinese novelsthey wanted to know more about social upheavals such as theCultural Revolution in which neighbours and family membersattacked one another in a manner similar to the attack uponthe aunt depicted by Kingston.Among the other Chinese works studied by the OACstudents was a movie directed by Peter Wang called A GreatWall (1985). I showed this movie to the whole classbecause it introduces, within a Chinese context, manypostcolonial themes such as displacement, interculturalcommunication and conflict, and American culturaldomination. Just as the students’ responses to WomanWarrior were widely divergent, so I found were theirreactions to A Great Wall, and this great variety ofreactions to the film made the task of exploring theheterogeneity of its Chinese and Chinese Americancharacters as well as the multiple and conflicting202discourses in the film a relatively pleasurable experiencefor the students. Rey Chow’s analysis of the movie’sreception amongst her friends helps to explain the varietyof opinions about it:The responses to this film among my friends werefascinatingly dissimilar. A Chinese person thoughtthis film pandered to the taste of the kweilo(Cantonese for “foreign devils”). A European couple,who completely missed the fact that the Chinese youthwon the ping-pong match, found the film aestheticallyoffensive because it polarizes America and China interms of technological supremacy and backwardness. AnAmerican liked the film because it showed peopleliving on the fault line between cultures and tryingto hold them together - “Real people are hyphenatedpeople,” he said. What interests me about theseresponses is the strong if lopsided conviction withwhich each view is expressed. It soon became clearthat this was one of those texts which is thought-provoking not so much because of intrinsic merit asbecause of the way it triggers divergent and evenopposed views from its audiences. Those views, heavywith historical resonances, turn a ratherstereotypical story into the battleground forcontending — perhaps mutually uncomprehending — claimsas to how an Asian—American “homecoming” experienceshould be aesthetically produced. (1990, p. 3l)In my student, Chad’s, response to the film heobserved that A Great Wall shows the great culturaldifferences between Americans and Chinese:Paul takes school lightly whereas his Chinesecousin, Liii, and her friend, Liu, take it much moreseriously, knowing that if they don’t pass the collegeentrance exams they will disgrace their family andhave a very hard time finding work. When Paul asksLili what she “does for fun at school” Liii respondsthat she goes to school to work, not to play.This quote also shows the difference toward theidea of the work ethic between the two cultures. As203the Fangs stay with the Chaos Liii begins to do lessand less work as she begins to act more and more likePaul (i.e. sitting around playing arcade games, etc.).In comparison with the work ethic trying to beestablished in her by her elders (e.g., Liu’s fathertelling her to memorize the English dictionary) theAmerican work ethic seems to be based on less work andmore play.The title, A Great Wall, has a very importantsymbolic meaning. The Great Wall is the Great Wall ofChina, built to keep out invaders. This is symbolicof the differences between the two families, the Fangsand the Chaos. The Fangs are like the invadersbringing foreign ideas with them into China. But theGreat Wall built by the people around their cultureallows them to ward off most of the outside influencesthat they are presented with. This is why it is veryimportant that it is Liu who wins the final ping pongmatch against Paul. This represents the repulsion ofthe rebellious foreign attitudes from the Chineseculture. 6Chad’s response is noteworthy for its strong analysisof the symbolic border-crossings which take place in thefilm and for his recognition of its ironic, sociallyconstructed barriers to intercultural communication. Animportant feature of the multicultural literacy which isthe principal goal of the postcolonial conception is thatstudents come to recognize that differences betweencultures, such as the work ethic identified by Chad, arefluid rather than unchangeable, and socially constructedrather than essential attributes. Chad’s awareness as wellof the ping pong competition’s symbolic value indicatesthat he has begun to develop a sophisticated ability toidentify the complex connections between imperialism and204culture. His analysis, in fact, bears some promisingsimilarities to Lisa Lowes interpretation:[Rather) than privileging either a nativist orassimilationist view, or even espousing a ‘Chinese—American’ resolution of differences, A Great Wallperforms a filmic ‘migration’ by shuttling between thevarious cultural spaces; we are left by the end of thefilm, with a sense of culture as dynamic and open, theresult of a continual process of visiting andrevisiting a plurality of cultural sites” (Lowe,1991b, p. 39).Lowe extrapolates from her reading of the film thenotion that “we might conceive of the making and practiceof Asian American culture as nomadic, unsettled, takingplace in the travel between cultural sites and in themultivocality of heterogeneous and conflicting positions”(p. 39). She finds just such a heterogeneous view ofChinese—American culture, for example, in Amy Tan’s novel,The Joy Luck Club (1989):By contrasting different examples of mother—daughter discord and concord, Joy Luck allegorizes theheterogeneous culture in which the desire for identityand sameness (represented by Jing—mei’s story) isinscribed within the context of Asian Americandifferences and disjunctions (exemplified by the otherthree pairs of mothers and daughters). The novelformally illustrates that the articulation of one, thedesire for identity, depends upon the existence of theothers, or the fundamental horizon of differences.Further, although Joy Luck has been heralded andmarketed as a novel about mother—daughter relations inthe Chinese—American family (one cover reviewcharacterizes it as a “story that shows us China,Chinese—American women and their families, and themystery of the mother-daughter bond in ways that wehave not experienced before”), I would suggest that205the novel also represents antagonisms that are notexclusively generational but are due to differentconceptions of class and gender among Chinese—Americans. (Lowe, 1991b, p. 36)V Several of my OAC students decided to analyse AmyTan’s The Joy Luck Club (1989) for their independent studyprojects and to relate it to colonial texts by writers suchas Pearl S. Buck. As I worked with these studentsindividually during the extended period of time which theywere given to develop their ideas about the texts, Ipointed out to them that, like Kingston, Tan was attemptingto analyse mother—daughter relationships in the context ofthe intercultural differences between China and the UnitedStates. I also told the students that Tan’sautobiographical fiction was similar to Kingston’s in thatit contained ingenious experiments with narrativetechnique. For example, in their analyses of Tan’s fourinterconnected sets of mother—daughter relationships, Iencouraged them to consider the reasons for her use ofexemplary tales told by mothers to daughters, confessionaltales told by mothers to the reader and by daughters to thereader, overlapping mother and daughter stories,overlapping daughter narratives, symbolic and thematicconnections between the tales, and a frame narrative inwhich Jing-mei Woo and her sisters are finally united inthe last chapter of the book. I also tried to encourage206the students to play deconstructively with the novel’s manybinary oppositions such as natural/supernatural, yin/yang,madness/reason, China/U.S.A., invisible strength/foolishpride, drowning/surfacing, white husbands/Chinese husbands,sweetness/bitterness, and mother/daughter which were eachestablished by Tan to enable the reader to question thesupposed differences they represented at the same time asmany of these differences were skilfully deconstructed byTan during the course of the novel.When my student, Shannon, for instance, had completedher comparison of patriarchal domination in the traditionalChinese marriages depicted in Pearl S. Buck’s The GoodEarth and Tan’s The Joy Luck Club she discovered that thetext’s white husband/Chinese husband opposition did notcontain nearly so pronounced a difference as Tan’scharacters had expected when they first married:The Joy Luck Club offers some insight into themodern day mixed marriages in which two of the Chinesedaughters in the novel are involved. Both of thesemarriages are experiencing difficulty.The first involves Rose Jordan who is gettingdivorced after fifteen years of marriage to anAmerican man named Ted. Rose describes her initialattraction to Ted as follows: “I have to admit thatwhat I initially found attractive in Ted wereprecisely the things that made him different from mybrothers and the Chinese boys I had dated: hisbrashness; the assuredness in which he asked forthings and expected to get them; his opinionatedmanner; his angular face and lanky body; the thicknessof his arms; the fact that his parents immigrated from207Tarrytown, New York, not Teinsin, China” (Tan, p.123). However, despite what she thought was an escapefrom her culture, over the years Ted proved to be theleader in their marriage, much the same as was WangLung in Buck’s depiction of a traditional Chineserelationship.The essay of another student, Michelle, combined herstudy of the China/U.S.A. opposition with herinvestigations into the mother/daughter opposition in Tan’sbook and in Pearl S. Buck’s Pavilion of Women to developher postcolonial feminist reading of the two texts:The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan and Pavilion ofWomen, by Pearl S. Buck both present Chinese women whostruggle against foreign influences to keep theirculture alive in their families.The Joy Luck Club reveals the strengths of fourChinese women who immigrated to America in 1949 toescape the suffering brought on by the CommunistRevolution. Once in America, they were expected tolearn a new language and to forget their treasuredcustoms and traditions, giving in to the Americanways. The Joy Luck Club was created by these women.“They ate, they laughed, they played games and theytold the best stories. And each week they would hopeto be lucky. That hope was their only joy” (Tan,1989, p. 12).Unfortunately, the daughters of these women didnot share the same pride in their Chinese culture astheir mothers. One of the daughters, June Woo,imagined Joy Luck as a “shameful Chinese custom likethe gatherings of the Ku Klux Klan, or the tom-tomdances of the TV Indians preparing for war” (p. 16).The mothers wanted to instill in their daughters theirChinese heritage in the hope that they would rememberthat they were Chinese before they were American. Toaccomplish this, they told their daughters storiesabout themselves and taught them about the ways of theChinese. However, to the closed American—born mindsof the daughters, the stories ceased to have anymeaning. They were “ignorant and unmindful of all thetruths and hopes their mothers brought to America.They grew impatient when their mothers talked in208Chinese and thought their mothers stupid when theyexplained things in fractured English” (Tan, p. 31).They took pleasures for granted without concerningthemselves with what their mothers had to give up inorder to make them happy.Madame Wu of Pavilion of Women and the mothers ofThe Joy Luck Club felt, as many Chinese do today, thatEurope and America were spreading too much of theirinfluence in other countries. The only way they sawto combat this was to remember who they were and toremember the things that made them unique.A mainstream feminist interpretation of these novelswould not have identified the important connections betweenimperialism and culture which Michelle recognizes as soimportant to the relationships between these Chinesemothers and daughters. The postcolonial reading strategieswhich she has employed, therefore, have helped her toexplain the cultural conflicts which exist between thediscourses of the Chinese mothers and their Chinese—American daughters. At the same time, these readingstrategies have enabled her in other parts of her essay toidentify the variety of political, social, and religiousforces acting upon these relationships which makeMichelle’s feminist interpretation of the texts morecomplex than it would have been had she focused exclusivelyupon the universal problems of women which she encounteredin these novels.While some students were carrying out theirinterpretations of Chinese—American texts others were209reading fiction by Chinese women from the People’s Republicand bringing very different reports back to the class abouttheir findings.7 In Tom’s postcolonial analysis of Life andDeath in Shanghai (1986), for instance, it is not theimperialism of the West which he wishes to investigate butthe domination of the Chinese Communist government over thevictims of the Cultural Revolution that he sets out tocritique:In today’s world, where international commerce isa way of life for many people, there are numerousdaily cultural interactions. Nien Cheng, the authorof Life and Death in Shanghai, was schooled in Englandand in China. She lived in China, moved to England,moved back to China, then lived in Australia for awhile before returning to China once again prior tothe Communist Revolution in 1949. All of this Westerninfluence on her came out in her style of living.Even in Communist China, she lived in a huge housewith a large garden and a few servants. Thislifestyle, however, was not only Western buttraditional Chinese. She really enjoyed Westerncomposers but she also collected Chinese works of artsuch as vases, paintings, and poetry. She alsoindulged herself in painting landscapes and writingpoems. Another interesting aspect of Nien’s life isthat she was employed by Shell Petroleum in Shanghai.This was a British company. So even in China, shestill had her European friends influencing her. Itwas because of her very close contact with the Westthat she was singled out and attacked during the GreatProletarian Cultural Revolution.The Cultural Revolution was started in order to“cleanse” the working class of all intellectuals,capitalists, and rightists and according to theircriteria, Nien was just about the worst example oftheir “enemy.” But she was actually one of the mostdevoted Chinese people. She could have left China atjust about any time through Shell, but she did not.210The Western aspects of her life caused her greatgrief, but during her six and a half years of solitaryconfinement it was her poems and her strong beliefthat she did nothing wrong that kept her alive andsane.After Tom presented his argument to the class, otherstudents who had read about the Cultural Revolution intexts such as Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro’s Son of theRevolution (1984) agreed with him that the treatment ofintellectuals was horrifying during that period of Chinesehistory, and, of course, parallels were drawn with theplight of student dissidents following the TienanmenIncident. However, none of my students thought to questionNien Cheng’s capitalist assertions that she had donenothing wrong. Having lived in China for a year, myself,in 1985-86, as an English instructor with the ForeignLanguage Department of Changsha University, in the samecity where Liang Heng and Chairman Mao had grown up, Icertainly had heard many horrifying tales from my studentsabout the atrocities perpetrated by Mao’s Red Guard duringthe Cultural Revolution, and I could sympathize with myCanadian students’ angry reaction as Tom told them aboutNien’s experiences. Nevertheless, the postcolonialapproach requires them to analyse not only the discourse ofthe Chinese Communists in Cheng’s text, but to critique aswell the unquestioned assumptions of this Chinese employee211of Shell Petroleum in Shanghai. So I pointed out to thestudents a few facts about the Japanese, British, American,Russian, French, and German imperialist activities inShanghai before 1949 to help them to understand why membersof the Red Guard could so easily be convinced that awealthy servant of a foreign oil company might deserve tobe attacked for her “capitalist roader” activities. Thus,although Tom was able to understand Cheng’s obvious courageas she resisted the intimidation tactics of the Communistsduring her years of imprisonment, he was also able toappreciate the significance of some of the differences andsimilarities between Cheng’s Chinese and Western values.And, although I felt compelled as Tom’s teacher toencourage him to take his analysis a step further byanalysing, as well, the Eurocentric discourse which enabledCheng to accept without question her right to a privilegedstatus in China, I was, nevertheless, pleased with theintercultural awareness that he developed on his own byreading Cheng’s authobiography with an eye for itsmulticultural structure.In the students’ postcolonial interpretations of theworks of Maxine Hong Kingston, Peter Wang, Amy Tan, andNien Cheng, then, besides their analyses of feministissues, they paid attention, as well, to a wide range of212issues from racism, to imperialism, to class struggles, tointercultural conflict. Thus, I have concluded that thepostcolonial approach to teaching students about literaryrepresentations of Chinese women is definitely preferableto the mainstream, Eurocentric feminist approach. When weconsider, for instance, to what degree the postcolonialcurricular conception develops the kind of literacy instudents (making some allowance, of course, for differentlevels of student engagement and ability) which enablesthem to negotiate meanings within various intertextualterrains and to acknowledge the heterogeneous andmultivalent constitutions of the subjects and culturesrepresented within their texts, the answer is clearly thatthis conception is superior to the kind of internationalfeminist analyses which Davis and Kristeva advocate.Through the process of traveling back and forth in theirimaginations between the cultures of China and NorthAmerica the students were able to see that, for Chinesewomen, feminist issues cannot be isolated anduniversalized, but that they are necessarily interconnectedwith problems of race, class, and culture.213Notes1. Concerning the combination of the marginal discoursesof postcolonialism and feminism, Sara Suleri argues that“even though the marriage of two margins should notnecessarily lead to the construction of that contradictionin terms, a ‘feminist center,’ the embarrassed privilegegranted to racially encoded feminism does indeed suggest arectitude that could be its own theoretical undoing. Theconcept of the postcolonial itself is too frequently robbedof historical specificity in order to function as apreapproved allegory for any mode of discursivecontestation. The coupling of postcolonial with woman,however, almost inevitably leads to the simplicities thatunderlie unthinking celebrations of oppression, elevatingthe racially female voice into a metaphor for ‘the good”(1992, pp. 758—759)2. Nien Cheng, the author of Life and Death in Shanghai(1986), for instance, like millions of other dissidents,spent years in prison during China’s Cultural Revolutionprecisely because she was not a Chinese revolutionary. Itis true that many of the atrocities of the CulturalRevolution were not known outside of the People’s Republicuntil after the writing of Kristeva’s book, and I am notcriticizing her for failing to recognize this historicalinaccuracy in her account. Nevertheless, given herdecidedly Marxist agenda at the time as a member ofFrance’s Tel Quel group, it would have been difficult forKristeva to see Mao’s China as anything but an encouragingantidote to the failed communist movement in early 1970sFrance.3. Like Smith, another mainstream feminist critic, LindaHunt, in offering the following interpretation of Chapter1, also focusses upon Kingston’s narrative techniqueinstead of attempting to deal with the more complicatedintercultural issues raised by the book. After describinghow Maxine first sides with her aunt and then with thevillagers in her narration, Linda Hunt points out that:“While the remainder of the tale emphasizes the eventswhich befell the persecuted woman, her thoughts andfeelings, the narrative remains riddled with ambivalence.Kingston’s recounting of her aunt’s story has been adefiant act of recompense towards the forgotten relative, adesire not to participate in her punishment. Yet, one more214twist occurs in the last sentence of the chapter. ‘My aunthaunts me...I alone devote pages of paper to her...I do notthink she always means me well. I am telling on her, andshe was a spite suicide, drowning herself in drinkingwater” (Hunt, 1985, p. 7).4. Lisa Lowe, however, points out that Frank Chin accusesKingston of having “exoticized Chinese—American culture; heargues that she has ‘feminized’ Asian American literatureand undermined the power of Asian American men to combatthe racist stereotypes of the dominant white culture.Kingston and other woman novelists such as Amy Tan, hesays, misrepresent Chinese history in order to exaggerateits patriarchal structure; as a result, Chinese society isportrayed as being even more misogynistic than Europeansociety” (199lb, p. 33). Lowe, however, counters theattacks of Chin by arguing that from the perspective ofAsian American feminists the attempts of nationalists toconstruct an essentialized native Asian—American subjectonly serve to obscure gender issues. From her postcolonialfeminist position Lowe believes that the desire toessentialize Chinese—American identity fails to recognizethe condition of heterogeneous differences which has beenso effectively represented in Kingston’s novel (1991b, p.34)5. Chow continues in her analysis of the movie to arguethat, “Given the demolition of the traditional terms ofreference and the de—legitimation of the grounds ofcriticism that such terms provide, and given theuntenability of a return to traditional culture in anyunadulterated form, the very instability of culturalidentity itself becomes a combative critical base. Thiscritical base engenders a new set of terms for theproduction of knowledge and for intervention that are nolonger simply cognitive or ontological, but are informed bysubjectivity and experience” (Chow, 1990, p. 46). It isthis recognition of the “instability of cultural identity”which I try to make clear to my students not only throughtheir viewing of A Great Wall, but in their study of all ofthe works on the course.6. One of Chad’s other interesting insights into theintercultural conflicts of the movie is expressed in hisanalysis of Wang’s treatment of racism. “Leo Fang doesn’tget the promotion he feels he deserves. Instead it goes toa much less qualified white male. Leo protests to hisboss, finally quitting because of what he feels is racism.215Leo’s son, Paul, also feels he is being treated differentlybecause of racism. But in this instance it is his fatherwho is being prejudiced against his choice of a whitegirlfriend over a Chinese one. Finally, Mr. Chao is shownas being racist towards Americans. He says that allAmericans are promiscuous and does not want his daughter totravel to America where she will be with people who are notof her same culture. It is interesting that Paul says thathis father’s wish for him to have a Chinese girlfriend isracist and that he covers it up with culture and tradition.Are these actions racist or merely a way of preserving acultural heritage? It is obvious that they are all formsof racism based in ignorance (i.e., Leo cannot do the jobof the young white man and all Americans are promiscuous).”7. Before selecting Chinese texts for students to studyteachers might wish to familiarize themselves with thetremendous variety of contemporary Chinese fictional workspresently available in English. A good place to start isto read short stories and novel excerpts in the followingexcellent anthologies. For a collection of stories fromthe Chinese—American community, for instance, I recommendAiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers (1991)edited by Frank Chin, et al. For a selection of shortstories and novellas from the People’s Republic, Taiwan,and Hong Kong, Michael S. Duke’s anthology, Worlds ofModern Chinese Fiction (1991) is a wonderful text. For acollection of stories about the Chinese diaspora in theAsian Pacific I recommend Trevor Carolan’s anthology,Colors of Heaven: Short Stories from the Pacific Rim(1992). And for a fine selection of short stories, poems,and novel excerpts from the Chinese Canadian community Irecommend that teachers read Bennett Lee and Jim Wong—Chu’sMany-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by ChineseCanadians (1991).216Chapter 6The Reader—Response ConceptionSince 1978 approximately 160,000 Chinese have left thePeople’s Republic of China to study or work in the West.Some 300,000 Hong Kong citizens are expected to emigratebefore 1997. And, during the past decade, many thousands ofTaiwanese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Koreans have alsoemigrated to North America. A consequence of this vastmigration is that high school teachers in several majorCanadian cities have found themselves teaching English toclasses in which a large percentage of the student body isAsian—Canadian.One such teacher, David Low, teaches English inVancouver to grade 10 students of whom approximately 40%have moved to Canada recently from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan,and Korea. I first met David when I began working at hisschool as a researcher on a telecommunications project forthe University of British Columbia. Because his studentshad access to a computer lab through which they could beconnected to global telecommunications networks, David and Iconsidered the possibility of finding them pen pals (or keypals) throughout the Asian Pacific with whom they mightshare their impressions of Asian literature and cultures.217Electronic mail (e-mail), we thought, would provide David’sstudents with the opportunity to forge collaborativefriendships in Asia by composing messages on their computerscreens and then sending them to their distant partnersthrough such computer networks as Internet and Bitnet.1-Their key—pals would then receive these messages within amatter of minutes. Given this technological means ofvirtually obliterating the distance between Canada and Asia,what David and I were particularly interested in studyingwas how his students might use e—mail to respondcollaboratively to Japanese and Chinese short stories intranslation.I therefore set out on an electronic voyage around thenetworks of the Pacific Rim to find key pals for David’sstudents. I was eventually able, through such Internetcomputer forums as Japan Food and Culture and the South EastAsian Network, to locate some university correspondents forthem from India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, andthe PRC. Although the students were pleased to be able tocommunicate with these thoughtful and enthusiasticuniversity—aged e—mail key pals, they also expressed adesire to write to people their own age.2They were quite excited, therefore, when I was able tomake contact for them with the students of an international218high school near Kyoto, Japan. Hillel Weintraub, an Englishteacher at this school who is also a doctoral candidate atHarvardUniversity’s School of Education, was interested inways of using computer communications to enhance theteaching of English. During a two-month period he and Icarried on an extensive e—mail correspondence in order towork out the details of the connection which we wished toestablish between the grade 10 students of Dave Brier (whoalso teaches English at Hillel’s school near Kyoto) and thestudents of David Low in Vancouver. Hillel and I, forexample, decided to provide the students with an anthologyof Asian short stories called Tapestries (1991) which hadbeen designed by its editors with Asian-Canadian high schoolreaders in mind. Because we did not have a clear idea atthe outset of what we really meant by “computer—mediated,intercultural, collaborative responses to literature,”Hillel and I entered into our study with an open-minded andexploratory attitude about what we expected the students’•responses to involve.In the usual reader—response paradigm (text + reader =poem), theorists such as Louise Rosenblatt have longrecognized how important the reader’s cultural background isto the reading transaction. As Rosenblatt recently notedshe has always “urged that students be made aware of the219implicit underlying cultural and social assumptions of anyevoked work, and that they be helped to make these the basisfor scrutinizing their own assumptions” (1990, p. 106). Inour case, we wondered if the bicultural perspectives whichour students brought to their reading of the stories wouldnaturally cause them to reflect upon their own culturalassumptions and identities. Because, for instance, all ofthe Japanese students had lived in the United States forseveral years before moving back to Japan and most of theAsian—Canadians had only recently moved to Canada, we wereinterested in seeing how these readers would use theirintercultural e—mail exchanges and personal biculturalmemories to supplement their transactions with the literarytext. And, at the same time, we wondered what personalinsights would emerge out of the developing relationshipsbetween the students as a result of their working togetherwith partners, who, like themselves, had lived on both sidesof the Pacific Ocean.Before I describe in detail what happened between theVancouver and Kyoto students, however, it is necessary thatI explain how the postcolonial conception, with its use ofpoststructuralist reading strategies, differs from thetraditional reader—response conception of the multiculturalliterature curriculum. To clarify these differences, first220I need to examine the objections which Rosenblatt has raisedto modifications which poststructural theorists haveattempted to make to her reader—response theory, and,second, I need to explain the specific changes to thetraditional reader—response approach which I have made withthe help of some important concepts from the work ofpostcolonial theorist Trinh T. Minh-ha.Louise Rosenblatt, the founder of the reader—responsetheory of literary criticism, has described in detail thetransactional relationship which she sees among the reader,the text, and the poem. The text belongs to the author, butthe poems, which are constructed in the minds of the variousreaders who encounter the text each differ according to thepersonal and cultural frameworks with which these readersinterpret what they read. This view of the readingtransaction is an important one to be adopted by theteachers and students of multicultural literature, becauseit shifts their focus away from searching for only one“true” meaning of the text. As Rosenblatt points outstudent readers are “living in the world of the work which[they) have created under guidance of the text and areentering into new potentialities of [their) own natures.”The reading of each text is therefore “a unique mode ofexperience, an expansion of the boundaries of their own221temperaments and worlds, lived through in their own persons”(1978, p. 68).As John Willinsky (1990) has observed, Rosenblatt’searlier work in her book, Literature as Exploration (1938),was inspired by the democratic ideals of progressiveeducators such as John Dewey. Thus we find her remarkingthat books “are a means of getting outside the particularlimited cultural group into which the individual was born”(1938, p. 228). Willinsky argues that Rosenblatt’s lack ofemphasis upon the political dimension of her theory in hermore recent writing has left to other literary critics thetask of accounting for the political dimension of thereader’s response. He mentions, for instance, that thefeminist critics are now the ones asking: “Whose texts,whose response?”I have been attracted to the work of Louise Rosenblattbecause she advocates the students’ active role inconstructing the fictional work through their transactionswith the text. I disagree, however, with her belief thatthe students’ participation in the reading process mustnecessarily be devalued by those of us who would encouragethem to deconstruct their texts. According to Rosenblatt,like the New Critics, poststructuralists anddeconstructionists overemphasize the text:222They are concerned with abstracting the underlyingsystem of codes and conventions that the text possessesfor a particular “interpretive community.” Author andreader become mere carriers of cultural conventions,and both fade away under the extreme relativism of thedeconstructionists and the “cultural” critics.... Thecritical processes and teaching procedures that servethis overemphasis on the text result in neglect of thepersonal aesthetic experience. The stress is placed onefferent analysis, whether of codes and conventions,logical self contradictions, or ideologicalassumptions. The advocates of these textually orientedtheories find no problems in continuing the teachingpractices of the traditionalists and the formalist NewCritics. (1990, p. 105)But if reader—response theorists such as Rosenblatt arewilling to acknowledge the value of various individualstudents’ interpretations of a text, then they should notobject to a critical approach which encourages students toseek for themselves, according to their individual subjectpositions, an endless variety of interpretations of a work.Rosenblatt’s differentiation between efferent andaesthetic reading strategies must, of course, be discreditedby poststructuralists because it attempts to separate “reallife knowledge” from “aesthetic appreciation,” a distinctionwhich becomes blurred, for example, when deconstructionistsexamine propaganda.3 Is it fiction or non-fiction? Is thereading of history an efferent or an aesthetic experience?Are commercials objects of art? Deconstruction, by treatingall texts as narratives related to other narratives, not223only expands our notion of fiction but it also underminesRosenblatt’s privileging of aesthetics.She shows herself to be a serious social critic inLiterature as Exploration (1938), so why then does shedevalue the social and cultural experiences of minoritystudents by denying them the chance to grapple with issuessuch as imperialism, racism, and sexism through theirreading of literature? For instance, she says that herstudents should learn to “reject unjust assumptions” but“accept and build on what is sound in our culture” (1990, p.106). Without a method of differentiating and opposingdominant culture discourse, though, how do they decide whatto reject? And when she says “our culture” whose culturedoes she have in mind? Rosenblatt’s condemnation ofdeconstruction fails to recognize its potential power toconfront stereotypes directly in ways which her traditionalreader—response theory does not.Trinh Minh-ha (1991), on the other hand, has recentlyadded to the collection of reader—response readingstrategies a powerful poststructuralist tool bydeconstructing the binary opposition of culturalinsider/outsider. She accomplishes this by definingindividuals like the Vancouver and Kyoto students, who haveone foot firmly planted in each of two different cultures,224as “hyphenated selves.” Her point is that the veryexistence of such hyphenated selves calls into questionanthropologists’ attempts to define essential differencesbetween cultures. “Essential difference allows those whorely on it to rest reassuringly on its gamut of fixednotions. Any mutation in identity, in essence, inregularity, and even in physical place poses a problem, ifnot a threat, in terms of classification and control” (1991,p. 73):The predicament of crossing boundaries cannot be merelyrejected or accepted. It has to be confronted in itscontroversies. There is indeed little hope of speakingthis simultaneously outside-inside actuality intoexistence in simple, polarizing black and white terms.The challenge of the hyphenated reality lies in thehyphen itself: the becoming Asian-American; the realmin—between where predetermined rules cannot fullyapply. (p. 157)If Trinh Minh—ha is correct, then our students werepredisposed by their double perspectives as both insidersand outsiders of two different worlds to question, in waysRosenblatt’s theory has not taken into consideration,stereotypical and essentialist notions of their culturalidentities. Thus, their collaborations might be expectedto illustrate how essentjaljst notions of self and cultureare called into question when hyphenated, or bicultural,readers are placed in the predicament of crossing boundaries225by sharing with each other through e—mail correspondencetheir impressions of Asian literature.In the end, our investigations seemed to indicate that,for contemporary students who have bicultural identities andwho have the wonders of communication technology at theirdisposal, there no longer exists such a thing as a purecultural insider. And, more importantly, our study seems todemonstrate that students reading across cultures canquickly circumvent the traditional insider-outsiderbifurcation which has been used by essentialists tostereotype Asian people and their cultures.Lilliann Noda, in her doctoral dissertation, Literatureand Culture: Japanese and American Reader—Responses toModern Japanese Short Stories (1980), has demonstrated thata Japanese reader whom she studied intensively possessed thecultural resources necessary to experience a more informedresponse to Japanese stories than did an American reader.She concluded, therefore, that teachers need to providetheir students with the necessary cultural backgroundinformation if they are to respond meaningfully to Asianliterature. Teachers such as David Low, however, haverecently been discovering that, because a large percentageof their students are bilingual and bicultural AsianCanadians, these readers in many cases already possess226sufficient cultural background to engage meaningfully withAsian literature written in English. And so, some of theseteachers have been deciding to use the background knowledgeand bicultural perspectives of their students to enrich andproblematize classroom discussions of Asian literature.Where Noda wished to emphasize the essential features ofJapanese literature which could only be appreciated byJapanese readers, David Low, Hillel Weintraub, Dave Brier,and I wished to discover how well the students couldquestion stereotypical representations of Japanese andChinese culture and people because of their biculturalperspectives. I should add, however, that Asian students donot necessarily appreciate being identified in front oftheir classmates as resident experts on Oriental culture,and I am certainly not suggesting that teachers should casttheir Asian students in this role. Rather, if minoritystudents are willing to accept responsibility forinterpreting their own cultures, then, as Aronowitz andGiroux (1991, pp. 101-102) have argued, these students’voices can be affirmed through a variety of means.Although there have recently been many attempts byEnglish teachers to formulate methodologies for teachingAsian literature to high school students, the question ofhow to affirm Asian—American and Asian—Canadian voices in227these literature classrooms has not yet been adequatelyaddressed. Tony Kane (1980), for example, notes that,because students lack the cultural background to appreciatethe literature of Chinese civilization they may find theirreading unsatisfying, but that, if this is the case, thefault lies partly with the students for being ignorant ofthe literatur&s worth. Thus, Kane’s unit provides teacherswith many suggestions about how to fill in the necessarycultural gaps with information about the nature of Chineselanguage and history. Judy Lightfoot’s (1991) unit ofJapanese literature is intended to help students define thedifference between “quintessentially” American andJapanese cultural and literary features. Thus sheencourages her students to try to establish differencesbetween American and Japanese definitions of self and group,philosophical heritages, and literary aesthetics.Alan Olds (1990) has advocated preparing students toread Chinese literature by providing them with the necessarycultural background information which he feels that studentsneed in order to recognize the moral and aesthetic merits ofChinese poems and short stories. To accomplish the filling—in of the necessary cultural foundations Olds lectures tohis students on Chinese history, language, philosophy,sociology, and politics. He hopes that students can come to228“think Eastern” (p. 25) if given sufficient backgroundknowledge. Granted, Olds does not claim to be able toeffect n his students a complete shift from a Western to anEastern perceptual framework, but he, nevertheless,inadvertently perpetuates the Orientalist notion, which hasbeen so effectively deconstructed by Edward Said (1978),that there is some tangible Eastern essence which can bedefined by those with access to the appropriate culturalmaterials. Said argues “that ‘the Orient’ is itself aconstituted entity, and that the notion that there aregeographical spaces with indigenous, radically ‘different’inhabitants who can be defined on the basis of somereligion, culture, or racial essence proper to thatgeographical space, is ... a highly debatable idea” (p.322). The main drawback, therefore, to the otherwise veryworthwhile programs of Kane, Lightfoot, and Olds is that,rather than affirming the voices of their Asian students byencouraging them to establish their own positions withregard to the literature, these teachers run the risk ofsilencing their students by imposing essentialistinterpretations of Oriental culture before recognizing whatthe students themselves can contribute to the discussion.Unlike Olds, we did not wish our students to learn “to‘think Eastern,’ while reading the stories” (p. 32), but,229instead, we simply asked them to collaborate with their keypals in an effort to respond to the text. Instead ofdominating the classroom with predetermined rules ofdiscourse through lectures and other teacher—centeredpedagogies, therefore, we wanted to give students theopportunity and the confidence to resist dominant culturemisrepresentations of them and their cultures. We wanted toenable the students to write and speak from their ownbicultural experiences. Collaborating with fellow studentsthrough computer—mediated communication proved to be a veryenjoyable and highly motivating way for the students toresist dominant culture stereotypical representations.As Barker and Kemp (1990) have noted in theirdescription of network theory, the computer—basedcollaborative approach re—empowers text by emphasizing thestudents’ rather than the instructor’s evaluation of it:Computers are used to facilitate the generation anddistribution of both original writing and writtenstudent responses to that writing. As students growaware of how they themselves respond to the words andphrases of their peers, they grow more aware of howtheir own words and phrases are being read.Accordingly, writing and revision become not simply amandated exercise, but an opportunity to shape theopinions of one’s readers, readers with whom the writeridentifies. (p. 24)After we had completed the two months of correspondencebetween the schools, Shingo, one of the male students in230Kyoto, observed that he did in fact feel the type ofidentity with and obligation toward his new friends inVancouver which Barker and Kemp associate with the processof collaborative computer writing:I thought it was different because, if we didn’t readthe story before, when the teacher assigned it to us,then we’d be letting the teacher down. But, this time,if we didn’t read the story and we didn’t have our ownthoughts we’d be letting our pen pals abroad down. Itmeans more to me to keep a good relationship with mypen pals. I was able to learn a lot from theiropinions.And Makiko, one of the female Kyoto students, seemed toagree with Shingo on this point:[I liked] being able to learn other than from textbooks— to talk to other people and hear what they thought.You can tell what a person is like just from readingtheir interpretations of the stories. If you’re in aclass you don’t really have to talk. You can just sitthere and watch other people talking. But, in thiscase, you have to have your comments.Computer—mediated intercultural communications,therefore, seem particularly well—suited topostcolonialism’s denial of the centre/periphery oppositionwhich has traditionally been perpetuated by imperialism’sattempts to control cultural identities and nationalboundaries. Intercultural computer communication, instead,works against the students’ tendency to situate themselvessolely within a single culture from a native’s “insider”perspective.231The students’ abilities to move freely back and forthbetween insider and outsider perspectives and to consideralternative views about Japanese culture and literature werebased both in their bicultural identities and in their needto bridge the Pacific Ocean while they theorized incollaboration with their e—mail partners. During normalclassroom discussions, on the other hand, the students wouldprobably not have been so willing to engage in the types ofopen communications which developed across borders with theaid of the computer connection. In fact, some of DavidLow’s transitional ESL students who were attempting to entermain—stream English programs after living in Canada for oneor two years felt particularly reticent to contribute toregular classroom dialogues. We did not feel, however, thatthis was because, as Jeffrey Carroll would have it, there isan essential difference between the rhetorical stance ofAsian students and Western students. Carroll believes thatit is traditional and not at all wrong for Asian students tobe quiet in the classroom:Silence is a good thing in Asian rhetoric, but not inours, where recent wisdom has pushed most of us intosocially interactive learning situations. Silence wasnot a bad thing in classrooms before our disciplinebegan to decenter the teacher and place studentparticipation at a premium. For many Asian—Americans,to remain silent is the only right action, since whatis being said is the teacher’s unfolding of thetruth.... This is of course not bad at all, but a232cultural trace that valorizes the social fabric overall, and the teacher’s representing that fabric, thatflow. (1991, p. 3—4)However, when we gave our students the opportunity tocarry on a computer—mediated dialogue with their partners,most were genuinely delighted to speak, via their computers,about their lives in Canada or Japan and about theirimpressions of the stories. One student claimed that shewould rather write than talk. Thus she was more willing toshare her feelings and ideas with her key pal than she wasto enter into regular class discussions. Our decenteredclassroom, therefore, resulted in giving voice to studentsdespite their supposed traditional predilection to remainrespectfully silent in front of the teacher. The ChineseCanadian students may also have felt less reserved in theirdialogues on the computer screen because, instead of beingperceived as members of a racial minority by their non—AsianVancouver classmates, they were now in the majority as theycommunicated with the Kyoto students in a partnership forwhich their racial heritage provided them with a definiteadvantage in carrying out their interpretations.To begin the project the students were encouraged tobecome acquainted with each other through introductorymessages. During these interchanges the students sharedwith each other information about their schools and233communities. For example, the Kyoto students pointed outthat their school is located in the country, about 20minutes from Kyoto Station, and that “Kyoto is one of thecities in Japan left with historical sites, such as famoustemples and shrines that people from all over the world cometo visit.” They noted as well that they “enjoy shopping,talking with friends and other things” that their key palswould do in Vancouver. During this introduction period thestudents were a little surprised, in fact, to discover howmuch they had in common with their key pals. For example,in Vancouver, Jennifer, said that “I told [Masae] about myinterests in acting and singing and it just happened thatshe was interested in the same things as me.” While, in theearly stages it was, I believe, beneficial for the studentsto establish a sense of common interests and concerns, asthey came to know each other better their pleasure indiscussing cultural differences also grew.As individual partners established common ground andcultural differences with each other during the initial daysof their correspondence, one of the Kyoto students, Sayoko,when asked what she and her friends did in their spare time,offered the following description of Karaoke bars. “Thewhole point of this Karaoke is that people pay to rent aroom and sing their heart out. The special thing about234singing here is that they have something like a TV screenthat writes out the words, the music fills up the room, andthey get to sing on a microphone. My friends tell me thatgoing there makes their stress go away.”As we read these introductory communications wewondered how the students would position themselves inrelation to their key pals. We felt that the nature oftheir collaborative responses to the stories would bedetermined in part by this positioning process. Forinstance, in the case of Bin Na, a Korean student living inVancouver, and Masae, in Kyoto, the collaborativepartnership which emerged proved to be a mutually supportiveone. After Masae discussed the years she had formerly spentliving in New Jersey and Toronto, Bin Na responded bydescribing the four years during which she had lived inBangladesh. Masae and Bin Na also commiserated over thedifficulties each expected to encounter when, having livedabroad for so many years, they must eventually attempt toqualify for university in Japan and Korea. Because both theKyoto and Vancouver students knew what it means to undergodislocations of the type mentioned by Masae and Bin Na, theyexhibited a genuine appreciation for each other’s biculturalperspectives and experiences. As Ashcroft, Griffiths, &Tiff in (1989) have observed, of course, dislocation and “the235crisis in self—image which this displacement produces” arekey features of postcoiialism (p. 9). Whether theindividuals are free settlers (as in the case of the AsianCanadians), Trinidadian—1mian indentured labourers, orforcibly colonized Nigerians and Bengalis, learning a secondlanguage, wrestling with at least two different sets ofcultural values, and questioning the authenticity of onescultural heritage, are problems faced by many peoplethroughout the world in the 1990s. How these students viewthemselves and literature is, therefore, inextricably caughtup in these issues of iltural difference and displacement.At tue sane time as the students were becomingacquainted with each ot through these personal exchangesthey also gained sone awareness of their partners’identities by studying their interpretations of the stories.Most of the students felt that the Japanese and Chinesestories which they read together provided a good startingpoint for their discussi: about Asian and North Americanculture. flowever the 2apnese students recommended that,in future, stories shoUld be chosen by the students, andthat some of the classics night better serve to illustratetheir feelings about Japanese culture than did thecontemporary story, “Spring Storm,” which the research teamhad chen ±or them to discuss.236“Spring Storm” was originally written in Japanese andthen translated into English. Sharon Jeroski says of itsauthor that “Mon Yoko is a self—professed fan of‘everything Western’ and her writing contains frequentallusions to Western films, personalities, and books. Herstories are urban and contemporary, with themes that oftenprobe the relationships between men and women” (1991, p.206). The story concerns a critical moment in therelationship between the actress, Midori Natsuo, and herhusband, the script writer, Asai Yusuke. On the day whenMidori learns, much to her surprise, that she has beenchosen to be the star of a musical, she also gradually comesto realize that her husband cannot accept her new careerstatus because he feels it would diminish his own. As MonYoko’s narrative unfolds, we see Midori’s developingawareness of her predicament, first in her confused feelingsof intense joy and suffocating pain while she approachestheir apartment, then in her mistrust as she attempts toconceal the truth from Yusuke, and, finally, in herrecognition of the choice that she must inevitably makebetween her marriage and her career.We chose this particular story for the students tostudy because it required them to debate the validity ofNon Yoko’s representation of the relationships between237Japanese men and women. As Yayori Matsui has made clear inher book, Women’s Asia (1989), the structural inequitieswhich are a part of Japanese society will take many yearsyet to overcome. But, while such inequities undeniablystill pose severe problems for many Japanese women, howthese inequities work themselves out in the relationshipsbetween individual married couples in Japan remains open todebate. We therefore chose for study a short story whichclearly represents a Japanese man as the cause of his wife’scareer difficulties in order to see how the students wouldinterpret Mon Yoko’s representation of this conflict.In the following interchange with Jennifer concerning“Spring Storm,” Masae’s explanation of the meaning of thestorm and blossoms indicated that she possessed a stronggrasp of the theme of gender inequity as it was revealed toher through the story’s symbolism:This story probably got its title from the part whereMidori and Yusuke talk about the storm and the cherryblossoms. When I read this story, I interpreted thatthe cherry blossoms were intended to symbolize womentrying to “blossom” out into what was known up untilthen as the “men’s world.” The storm shows the men’sdiscriminatory ideas against women, standing in theirway and not letting them blossom. You can tell fromwhat Yusuke says, that once the storm “stops,” morewomen will be involved in the world. Midori’s reply ofhow there will be more storms explains, in a way, thatthere will be more obstacles for women before they canreally blossom.238As an example of a traditional reader—responseinterpretation Masae’s comments were quite impressive for agrade 10 student. Lilliann Noda would, I think, draw ourattention to the fact that Masae’s knowledge of Japanesesymbols gave her an advantage over non—Japanese readers inidentifying the symbolic significance of the story’s centralmetaphors. But at this point in her developingunderstanding of the story Masae had not had the opportunityto discuss with her Vancouver key pals alternativeperspectives on the story. As we shall see, she eventuallydeveloped a more complex, postcolonial interpretation basedupon her intercultural interrogation of the story’sconflicting Japanese and American discourses on genderequity.At the end of the project the students in Kyoto andVancouver each expressed their opinions on videotape aboutthe process they had experienced. These tapes were thensent to their partners’ school so that they could have thepleasure of seeing and hearing each other on television. InVancouver, Jennifer offered the following concluding remarksabout “Spring Storm.” “Masae said that Japanese culture wasvery much like it was in ‘Spring Storm.’ The women aresupposed to stay at home. They’re not supposed to go out239into the business world because it’s a man’s world. She saidthat now they are starting to break away from that.”And, in Japan, Masae’s remarks indicated that throughher dialogue with Jennifer she had come to think about thestory from an intercultural perspective which, therefore,yielded a postcolonial response:In Japanese magazines for teens you read that guys hategirls who are smarter than them. In ‘Spring Storm’Usuke couldn’t stand Midori earning more money thanhim. It’s up to the individual person. I think oursociety has been stereotyped. My Dad helps out in thehouse now more than he used to. I wouldn’t want tomarry a guy who says that I have to stay at home and dohousework. I’d probably give up working if I had achild, but, if not, I’d want to keep on working.Masae’s initial insights, such as her analysis of theshower and blossom symbolism, lacked the complexity andpersonal engagement which these final observations contain.Had she not been given the opportunity, by explaining thestory to Jennifer, to reflect upon the issue of genderequity in Japan from an intercultural perspective, perhapsshe would not have been able to make this final, distancedassessment of the story’s relationship to her life. Masae’sresponse does not lack any of the personal commitment whichRosenblatt claimed poststructural approaches would endangerin students’ textual transactions. Nor does Masae fall intothe trap of “thinking Eastern” and essentializing thecharacteristics of Japanese men and women.240Throughout their correspondence Masae had gained theconfidence to take strong positions in her interpretationsof the story because she felt that she needed to answerJennifer’s questions directly and honestly. In response toa remark by Jennifer that the ending of the story wasconfusing to her, for instance, Masae replied that sherather liked the ending:You said that the ending of the story was confusing,but I liked how it ended. By saying that their “eyesmet,” you can assume that they did end up breaking up.The last line leaves you pondering on the thought, andleaves the ending for your imagination. It justwouldn’t be the same if the last line had stated--‘They decided to end the relationship.’Masae’s motivation for performing her analysis of theending of the story originated in Jennifer’s confusion. Andher conviction in attempting the explanation could in partbe due to the role she established for herself as thepartner who was better informed about Japanese culture andliterature. Just as the non-Native students in Chapter 4were able to understand the Native students’ culture betterthrough their intercultural e—mail communications, so theChinese—Canadian students such as Jennifer came tounderstand Japanese culture better through the explanationsoffered by Masae, Sayoko, and Shingo. But more importantthan this, the intercultural sharing between the two groupsof students caused them all to think in postcolonial terms241about the stereotypes which Mon Yoko had constructed in“Spring Storm.”Shingo, for example, clearly identified a link betweenthe way he responded to the story and the fact that he wasgoing through this process of analysing relationshipsbetween Japanese men and women in collaboration withCanadian key pals:We didn’t really think about the problem of malesuperiority in Japan until we started writing to themon the computer. My Dad’s a firm believer that my Momshould do all of the house work. He’d get mad if thefood wasn’t on the table when he’d come home. I hopethat if I was in the same situation as Usuke I wouldn’tact the same way as him. It doesn’t make anydifference to me whether my wife is earning more or hasmore success. I hope that in a similar situation Iwould be able to be happy for her.In general the students felt that they had producedsome interesting interpretations of the story’s themes andsymbols. At times their correspondence revealed that thestudents’ bicultural backgrounds had prepared them well forthe task of analysing the stories. During one interchange,for example, Jennifer noted to Masae the practice by bothJapanese and Chinese translators of reversing the first andlast names of characters in stories:What you said about the names of the characters and theauthor is really funny, partly because I can relate toit. I think I forgot to mention that I’m Chinese. IfI didn’t, well now you know. As I was saying, a lot ofthe time I read stories that have been translated from242Chinese to English, and the names, most of the time arereversed.They agreed that the translators must be conforming tothe English convention of writing family names after givennames, but that the effect of seeing Midori, for example,referred to as Natsuo seemed very strange to them indeed.Such insights were possible by Masae and Jennifer becauseboth were bilingual. Very few English teachers in NorthAmerica would be equipped to make such observations. And itis unlikely that a discussion of the story led by a teacherwho could not read Japanese or Chinese would have elicitedthis particular response. From a postcolonial perspective,it was also encouraging to see Jennifer and Masaecomfortably dealing with the distortions which translationcauses in the naming process. Just as, by taking controlover the construction and interpretation of their ownbicultural identities, they reconciled themselves to beingnamed both Asian and North American, so when Jennifer andMasae encountered the practice of name—reversal in Englishtranslations of short stories neither of them had anydifficulty in arguing that Japanese and Chinese names aremore recognizable for them when they are read in theiroriginal untranslated context.Aronowitz and Giroux, in their analysis of “borderpedagogy,” point out that intercultural communications of243the type which our students carried out offer opportunities“to engage the multiple references that constitute differentcultural codes, experiences and languages” (1991, pp. 118—119):Border pedagogy confirms and critically engages theknowledge and experience through which students authortheir own voices and construct social identities. Thismeans it takes seriously the knowledge and experiencesthat constitute the individual and collective voices bywhich students identify and give meaning to themselvesand others, and draws upon what they know about theirown lives as a basis for criticizing the dominantculture. (pp. 128-129)For students such as Masae and Jennifer, therefore, theopportunity during their dialogues to cross the bordersbetween Japan and Canada in particular, and between Asia andNorth America in general, enabled them both to celebratetheir common situations as hyphenated individuals and tointerrogate Japanese and Chinese culture from biculturalperspectives as they considered the motivations of thestories’ characters from insider and outsider vantage pointssimultaneously. Thus they were able, for example, toappreciate the truths of Mon Yoko’s story on the one handand to question the representation of Japanese men and womenthat it offers on the other.Clearly, then, the postcolonial approach as I havedescribed it in this chapter has added a dimension to thereading of Asian literature in English translation which244Noda and Rosenblatt simply have not taken into considerationin their reader—response theories. What has changed in thepostcolonial conception is that border—crossing, biculturalstudents have brought to the reading of multiculturalliterature their ability to assume insider and outsiderroles simultaneously. This not only has given thesestudents the opportunity to decode the discourses andassumptions of their texts from multiple perspectives, butit also has helped them to deconstruct and reconstruct theirsense of self and their cultural identities. Trinh Minhha’s notion of the hyphenated self, therefore, has providedan additional level of complexity and sophistication to thestudents’ postcolonial interpretations while Aronowitz andGiroux’s notion of border pedagogy as we have seen itpracticed here has helped students and teachers toproblematize the representations of self, place, and Otherwhich they encounter in their texts.If we ask how effectively the postcolonial conceptionhas enabled students and teachers to cross back and forthover the imaginary borders constructed between worlds inorder to interpret multicultural texts from both insider andoutsider perspectives, then the answer is that, throughtheir computer—mediated, collaborative responses to Japaneseliterature, the students have definitely experienced a type245of intercultural communication which has enhanced both theirunderstanding of the text and their understanding of theirhyphenated subjectivity in ways which traditional reader-response curriculum approaches have yet to address. And, inanswer to the question, to what degree does the postcolonialcurricular approach discussed in this chapter develop thekind of literacy in students which enables them to negotiatemeanings within various intertextual terrains and toacknowledge the heterogeneous and multivalent constitutionsof the subjects and cultures represented within theirmulticultural texts, it is reasonable to conclude that thestudents’ readings of “Spring Storm” very effectivelyidentified the multiple and conflicting discourses bothwithin the story and within Japanese society. It is not atall clear, however, that the same could be said of atraditional reader-response approach had we simply asked thestudents in Vancouver to discuss their views about the storywith their classmates instead of sharing them with theiricyoto key pals.To conclude, I should mention as well that although thestudents all wished that they could have had more time tocome to know their key pals better, they felt that they hadmade some good friends during the exchange. When the Kyotostudents were asked by Hillel Weintraub how they would like246to be marked for this activity, Shingo said, “I think itwould be interesting to ask our partners in Canada toevaluate us about what they thought about ourinterpretations.” Evidently the students had come torespect each others’ opinions sufficiently to trust theirpartners with the responsibility of assessing their work. Abond of friendship among the students had been established,in part, I believe, because they felt that their partnersunderstood the difficulties and pleasures of living betweenworlds.At the end of the project, when David Low and DaveBrier were asked how they felt about the process, they bothsaid that the next time the students should be given someguidance with their reading if they are to achieve a moreinformed understanding of the stories, and they offeredseveral good suggestions about how to enrich and fine—tunethe process in future without, they hoped, jeopardizing thestudents’ autonomy as collaborative learners. For instance,Hillel Weintraub and Dave Brier suggested that, in order toprovide the students with a visual frame of reference fortheir reading, they should be encouraged to view someJapanese and Chinese films. They would, of course, alsoencourage the students to be critical about the conventions247and biases to be found in the films’ representations ofJapanese and Chinese people and places.My own final assessment of the project was that thestudents grappled with the issues of gender equity andcultural difference very effectively, while they alsodiscovered many interesting examples of symbolism,foreshadowing, subtext, and irony during their exchanges.In the end, the desire to consider carefully their partners’interpretations also helped the students, in their readingof “Spring Storm,” to avoid stereotypical thinking about thecharacters, Midori and Usuke. And I felt as well that theirdesire to speak personally to their key pals about thestories caused the students to revise their views inresponse to the questions and opinions of their partners.When discussing a Chinese short story, for instance, Irene,a Chinese-Canadian student in Vancouver, said to Sayoko inKyoto that “When I read your point of view about the story Iknew that I didn’t see it from both sides. I understand howyou think that it was not entirely Gu Pan’s fault that hewas the way he was.”Finally, I should acknowledge that we are still verymuch novices at the business of teaching students how tocarry on computer—mediated, intercultural collaborativeresponses to literature, and I should also add that the248students were very fortunate to take part in an activitywhich most high school students at present do not have theopportunity to enjoy. However, I would argue that what isthe privilege of a few at the moment will hopefully become acommonplace for a great many in the near future as moreteachers find the ways and means to forge interculturalconnections for their classes through such organizations asInternet and Fidonet.6 For example, there are already morethan 100 North American school boards connected to eachother on Fidonet through the organization called K-l2Net.As more high school English teachers and their studentsattempt e-mail collaborations, I expect that they will find,just as we have, that the students are highly motivated touse this tool to come to know their distant partners, thatthey take their electronic key pals’ opinions seriously,and, finally, that they start to question stereotypicalviews about themselves and their cultures as they look atliterature from a postcolonial perspective. And for anincreasing number of students who have moved from one worldto another, perhaps their e-mail key pals will provide themwith an additional, personal pleasure and comfort as theyare able to share their feelings of dislocation with friendsin a medium where the distance between worlds becomesimmaterial.7249Notes1. An excellent resource for English teachers who can gainaccess to the Internet is The Whole Internet User’s Guideand Catalogue (Krol, 1992). There are already many highschool teachers around the world who have establishedInternet connections for their schools with organizationssuch as KIDSNET. For example, some 2,000 teachers have beenfunded by the Ontario Teachers Federation to join anelectronic bulletin board called “The Village” which enablesstudents and teachers to send electronic messages anywhereelse in the world where high schools are also connected tothe Internet. Unfortunately, this rules out countries suchas Thailand and India at the moment, where, althoughuniversity students have Internet accounts, high schoolscannot afford to join the system. But schools in countriessuch as Taiwan and Japan are now easily accessible to NorthAmerican students through the Internet. For instance, myOntario students are presently connected with high schoolstudents in three different Japanese cities.2. Before I began my research work at David Low’s school inVancouver I joined a computer forum on Fidonet known asAsian Link. On this forum students and adults primarilyfrom Pacific Rim countries, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, andJapan, discuss issues of common interest to them. One ofthe students whom I met in this way was Timothy Chen at aninternational school in Taipei City, Taiwan. Timothy usedthe Asian Link connection to gather information aboutPacific Rim issues for his school’s Global Awareness Club.Timothy, whose parents were Taiwanese, had grown up in theUnited States and then moved to Taiwan as a teenager becausehis father had been recalled to Taiwan by his company.Although Timothy missed the friends and brother he had leftbehind in the United States, he used his e-mail connectionsto help him maintain contact with his home across thePacific. It was Timothy Chen’s example that first excitedme about the prospect of using international e—mail as abridge between cultures.3. Because propaganda contains both efferent and aestheticelements, it is pointless to read it either purely for itsaesthetic value or simply as objective fact. For two goodexamples of the efficacy of deconstructive readingstrategies in the critical interpretation of the discoursepractices employed by propagandists see Derrida’s250deconstruction of the term “apartheid” as it is used inSouth African juridical and religious discourses (Derrida,1985b) and Hilary Janks’s analyses of the uses of propagandain South African journalism (Jariks, 1989) and education(Janks, 1990).4. I met Fred Kemp, the originator of poststructuralcomputer network theory, at a conference where we were bothpresenting papers on Computers and Composition hosted by theNew York Institute of Technology on Long Island. On thatoccasion Fred demonstrated how to do chat mode links betweenschools by connecting conference participants in New Yorkwith students at universities in Michigan and Florida for areal—time, three way chat via computer communications. Ihave described in Chapter 4 of this thesis how I then usedthe same procedure to link students in Newfoundland,Ontario, and British Columbia to carry out discussions aboutNative issues.5. The following quotation from Matsui about the treatmentof Japanese women in the work force powerfully illustratesher point. “The majority of female workers in Japan areyoung women who work till marriage or childbirth, andmiddle—aged part—time workers who come back to a job afterthe children grow up. Their average wage is about half thatof male workers; they are merely expendables at the bottomof the employment ladder. In order to maintain a solidlifelong employment system, the major characteristic ofJapanese companies, it is necessary to have such womenworkers who can easily be hired and fired, as a cushion”(Matsui, 1987, p. 41).6. When I first began my investigations into internationalcomputer communications networks, besides exploring theInternet, which is a powerful, government—funded system forlinking educators around the world, I also joined theamateur network known as Fidonet. For teachers who cannotafford to join the Internet, Fidonet is an inexpensivealternative method of carrying out international e—mailcommunications. Fidonet is also indirectly connected toInternet so that messages can be sent from the one systeminto the other through electronic gateways. However, whilea message from Vancouver to Hong Kong on the Internet cantravel to its destination in a matter of minutes, on Fidonetit could take two or three days to reach its destination.7. A version of this chapter has been published in.the Fall1992 issue of the journal, Reader: Essays in Reader—Oriented251Theory, Criticism, and Pedagogy, under the title, “ReadingBetween Worlds: Computer—Mediated Intercultural Responses toAsian Literature.” I was able to carry out this researchwork as a member of the Learning Connections Project, underthe guidance of its directors, Dr. John Willinsky of theUniversity of British Columbia’s Centre for the Study ofCurriculum and Instruction and Dr. Lorri Neilsen of NovaScotia’s Mount St. Vincent University. The LearningConnections Project was funded in part by the SocialSciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.252Chapter 7The Antiracist ConceptionDuring the past decade some school boards in Ontariohave offered compelling arguments for shifting the focus ofhigh school literature programs toward antiracistmethodologies. And, with the completion of the OntarioMinistry of Education’s new policy guidelines for Antiracismand Ethnocultural Equity in School Boards (1993) whichstipulate that antiracist teaching practices must beimplemented in all Ontario high schools and elementaryschools by September of 1995, high school English teachersacross the province are bound to be concerned about how theyare to change their curricula as the deadline approaches tomeet the goals of the Ministry of Education. The new policydocument states quite clearly the goal of antiracist Englisheducation:Antiracist curriculum provides a balance ofperspectives. It enables all students to seethemselves reflected in the curriculum and provideseach student with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, andbehaviours needed to live in a complex and diverseworld. It consciously examines and challenges theEurocentric nature of curriculum and of the society inwhich young people are growing up. (p. 13)Ontario high school teachers of English, however, havecertainly not traditionally been concerned about challenging253the inherent Eurocentrism of their literature curricula andof Canadian society in general. Only recently have someOntario English teachers become aware of the effects thatBritish imperialism has had upon the cultural work whichthey do each day in their classrooms. Robert Morgan’shistorical survey of Ontario’s English literature programsover the past 120 years, for example, has exposed thecultural hegemony which these programs have helped toperpetuate. “The predominance of ‘English’ authors inschool literary anthologies and the referential universethey instantiated (English scenery, landmarks, heroes) was aclear message to the diverse peoples who settled here duringthe period I examine, an assimilationist signal that theterms ‘Motherland’ or ‘home’ really designated but onelegitimate set of memories and identities” (1990, p. 221).Morgan calls this use of English studies to produce aunified Anglocentric identity among colonials “textualimperialism,” and he points out that the study of Englishliterature began first not in England but in places such asOntario as an experiment to encourage Canadians to remainloyal to Britain. Morgan sees the Ontario Ministry ofEducation English Guidelines (1987) as a continuation of thetradition of textual domination despite their inclusion ofmulticultural literature. “In spite of the espoused254‘multiculturalism’ of recent Ontario governmentpronouncements on the teaching of English, the stresscontinues to fall upon a monochromatic and stablenationalism” (p. 198).Like Morgan, Jim Cummins, in his analysis of programsand policies in Ontario entitled “From Multiculturalism toAntiracist Education” (1988), argues that “in mostclassrooms, the hidden curriculum still conforms largely tothe ideology of ‘Anglo-conformity’”(p.127). Cumminsexposes examples of institutionalized racism in theinteractions between educators and minority students. Heargues that the resulting systemic inequities can only beovercome by empowering minority students through antiracisteducation.In 1983 the Ontario government published its BlackStudies curriculum document. Here for the first time therewas an admission that existing high school texts containedvirtually no references to the African—Canadian experiencewith which students in Ontario could identify. Thisdocument also set out as a goal the development of apositive self concept in African—Canadian students.In a proposed novel unit, the document recommends thestudy of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) which“depicts life in an African society before the arrival of255European missionaries and reveals how the internalweaknesses in the traditional society and the Europeanpresence cause the society to fall apart” (Ontario Ministryof Education, 1983, p. 70). It is interesting to note, aswell, that one of the recommended activities of the BlackStudies unit on Achebe’s novel is for students in smallgroups to “discuss why they identify with certain charactersand not with others and whether the figures in the novelhave a universal appeal” (p. 69). However, in 1975 ChinuaAchebe stated that he would “like to see the word universalbanned altogether from discussions of African literatureuntil such a time as people cease to use it as a synonym forthe narrow, self—serving parochialism of Europe” (Achebe,1975, p. 13). Thus, even thought the Black Studies documentwas a positive step toward the realization of antiracisteducation in Ontario, it did not go far enough in itsattempts to encourage students and teachers to examine theirEurocentric biases.Efforts such as these at acknowledging the struggle ofAfricans against white domination were not sufficient tosatisfy the calls for antiracist education coming from suchorganizations as The Urban Alliance on Race Relations whichpublished Barb Thomas’s article in 1984 entitled “Principlesof Antiracist Education.” Thomas argues, instead, for a*256much more direct approach to confronting racism ineducation:It is important to define, clearly, the oppositionalnature of antiracist education before the uncomfortableedges are smoothed and we are left with yet anotherterm for ‘dealing with diversity’... Antiracisteducation posits that diversity per se is not theproblem; nor necessarily is preservation of one’sheritage. It is the significance that is attached todifferences, and more importantly, the way thatdifferences are used to justify unequal treatment thatis the problem. (Thomas, 1984, pp. 20—21)In 1987 the Scarborough Board of Education produced a64-page policy statement (in response to the high ratio ofvisible minority families in the community) entitled RaceRelations, Ethnic Relations, and Multicultural Policy.Among its policy statements were the following:The Scarborough Board of Education will take an activerole in the elimination of all racial and culturaldiscrimination, including those policies and practiceswhich, while not intentionally discriminatory, have adiscriminatory effect. (Scarborough Board of Education,1987, p. 16)The Scarborough Board of Education providesencouragement and opportunities for all staff andtrustees to develop their knowledge, sensitivity, andskills in areas related to multiculturalism, racerelations, and antiracist education. (p. 17)In the North York Board of Education, the Coordinatorof English Curriculum, Ellen Anderson, and the Head ofEnglish for A. Y. Jackson Secondary School, Robert Lebans,produced a 200—page curriculum document based upon aconference held for secondary, junior high, and middle257school English/Language Arts teachers, the title of whichwas The Role of the Reader in the Curriculum: The ThirdReport: A Curricular Approach to Antiracist Education(1988). The purpose of this document was “to legitimize, tonormalize, and to validate the experiences of all studentsrepresenting all racial and ethnic groups in ourmulticultural society through the identification anddiscussion of racial and ethnic bias in literature andthrough the teaching of a multicultural curriculum” (p. 3).The document provides North York English teachers withbackground research on such topics as “Suggestions forDeveloping Positive Racial Attitudes,” “Huckleberry Finn andthe Traditions of Blackface Minstrelsy,” and “DoesLiterature Promote Racism in High Schools?” But even morehelpful than these articles is the list of the basic aspectsto consider when examining materials for use in theclassroom. These aspects were derived from Dr. RobertMoore’s keynote address, “Racism in the Curriculum.” Threeof Moore’s aspects are historical background, language andterminology, and characterization.Concerning historical background Moore observes thatteachers and students should recognize the roles played bypeople of colour and by women in Canada’s past and thatbooks set in various eras should be checked for accuracy258with regard to their depiction of these groups. He alsoargues that students should understand the systemic natureof racism and should be made aware of the limitations of anyhistorical accounts which treat racism and discrimination asif these were only the result of prejudiced individuals.Some questions which the report therefore recommends thatstudents and teachers ask when applying the historicalaccuracy criterion in order to identify explicit andimplicit racial bias in literature are:Is colonial experience glorified as being beneficial tothe third world group or country, rather thanbeneficial to the colonizing country or businessinterests of the colonizer?Is the history recounted from the viewpoint of what wasadvantageous to whites or how events appeared towhites?Are the minority heroes and heroines in the textbookthe people who acted on behalf of their own people? Orare they described in terms of the help that they gaveto white interests? (p. 13)If students are investigating language and terminologyin learning materials Moore recommends that teachers drawtheir attention to value—laden terms such as “inscrutable,”“primitive,” and “savage” when these words are used todescribe particular people of colour. Some questions to askunder this criterion-might be:Are minority characters given unusual or “funny” names,given only first names, or left nameless?259Does the work present colour symbolism that impliesthat white is positive and other colours are negative?(p. 14)Examples of Moore’s aspect of characterization are thesuper—minority syndrome “in which a person of colour mustaccomplish a superordinate task in order to win acceptancefrom whites,” (p. 11) and victim-blaming in which people ofcolour are said to need to learn English or to assimilate inorder to solve their problems. Some questions to ask whenlooking for instances of racist characterization are:Does the author omit a minority perspective indescribing a situation or conflict?Does the author present a story line in which the goalof the third world character is to be accepted bywhites, or in which the third world character isaccepted only after performing superhuman feats orexhibiting superhuman forgiveness? (p. 11)When these criteria were applied by teachers at theconference to the passage from Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill aMockingbird (1960), in which Mrs. Merriweather and Mrs.Farrow discuss, in the presence of the maid, Sophy, theproblems which they have experienced with “sulky” domesticservants, the teachers derived the following strategies fordecoding the characters’ racist discourse:1. As a pre—reading exercise, ask students to describein their journals any situations in which they haveever had to remain silent and accepting when they didnot want to, and share these with a learning partner.2. Have each learning partner ask the questions: “Whydid you remain silent?” “Why didn’t you do anything?”2603. As a reading exercise, ask students which commentsmade by Mrs. Merriweather would insult the blackservant serving the coffee and why she might remainsilent. (p. 25)Projects such as these which were dedicated todeveloping antiracist approaches for the teaching of highschool English and which were carried out by a few Ontarioschool boards during the 1980s eventually led the Ministryof Education to develop policies which mandated the teachingof multicultural literature on a province—wide basis. Eventhough the Ontario government’s policy statements had notyet embraced antiracism in 1987 when John Borovilos andSuwanda Sugunasiri published their English Guidelinesprofile, Multicultural Literature Within the EnglishCurriculum, they did manage to include antiracist strategiesin their curriculum at a time when Ontario’s EnglishGuidelines were still emphasizing the multicultural goal ofthe “celebration of diversity” rather than the antiracistgoal of “decoding discrimination.” For instance, includedin the profile is a “Checklist for the Evaluation of Racial,Religious, and Cultural Bias in Learning Materials” whichasks such questions as “Are members of minority groupsdepicted only in subservient and passive roles?”Both the Multicultural Literature profile (1987) andBorovilos’s textbook, Breaking Through (1990), are intended261to help students to break through barriers of racial andethnic prejudice by encouraging them to respond to shortstories, poems, and essays written by and about Canadianimmigrants, native people, visible minorities, and ethnicgroups. Borovilos’s multicultural goal, as is clearlystated to the students in the preface of Breaking Throucth,is to help them to “acknowledge the similarities andcelebrate the differences of all the people in Canada’smosaic” (p. xiii). However, Borovilos demonstrates adefinite interest, as well, in combating racism through someof his assignments and selections. For example, afterstudents have read John Barber’s essay, “History’s RacialBarriers,” Borovilos asks them, “According to Barber, whatcaused ‘history’s racial barriers’ in Canada? How and whywere those barriers overcome? Do you agree with Barber’smajor thesis?” (p. 276).The variety of response strategies which he offers thestudents provide them with interesting “entry points” fordiary writing, small group discussions, and imaginativeextensions, as well as many other approaches which encouragethem to share their thoughts about these works with eachother. Both this textbook and his profile provide lists ofadditional readings such as plays and novels so that thestudents may carry on independent studies after they have262acquired a basic understanding of the course’s subjectmatter.Rather than examining diverse cultural origins throughthe study of world literature, Borovilos focusses uponCanadian writers because he wishes to reinforce thestudents’ appreciation for their Canadian identity and toemphasize such themes as cultural conflict, assimilation,and xenophobia. Perhaps this is because he has designed hiscourse to fit within the multicultural policy of the OntarioMinistry of Education’s guidelines which require that such acourse should “reflect our pluralistic society and the manycontributions made by both men and women, and by minorityand ethnic groups” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 1987, p.4).If we examine one of the works included in Borovilos’text, we can easily see, however, that he does not intendhis students to accept the notion of multiculturalismuncritically. In the essay, “I’m not racist but...,” NeilBissoondath makes the following attack upon Canada’smulticultural policy:We like to think, in this country, that ourmulticultural mosaic will help nudge us into a greateropenness. But multiculturalism as we know it indulgesin stereotype, depends on it for a dash of colour andthe flash of dance. It fails to address the most basicquestions people have about each other: Do those mendoing the Dragon Dance really all belong to secret263criminal societies?... Such questions do not seem to bethe concern of the government’s multicultural programs,superficial and exhibitionistic as they have become.(Borovilos, 1990, p. 190)It is clear from this excerpt alone that Borovilos hasselected writers who are anything but fence sitters.Students and teachers cannot remain neutral when dealingwith Bissoondath’s criticisms of the government’s policy andof the society’s false hope in our easy attainment of“openness.” Rather, Borovilos encourages his students totake strong positions on multicultural issues in order towork out an understanding with fellow classmates on thebasis of serious debate.Even though the work of English teachers andcoordinators such as John Borovilos, Robert Lebans, andEllen Anderson has done so much to launch the attack uponEurocentric representations of people of colour in thetextbooks studied by Ontario high school students ofmulticultural literature, these educators’ theories ofrepresentation lack the complexity and sophistication whichthe postcolonial theory of representation brings to themulticultural literature curriculum conception. In thefollowing pages, therefore, I propose a modification to theantiracist curriculum conception which takes into accountthe ways in which postcolonial theory has redefined the264notion of literary representation to include a fluid andheterogeneous view of racism and racial difference.However, before I discuss the postcolonialmodifications which I propose to make to the antiracistconception of the multicultural literature curriculum, Iwould like to explain the differences betweenmulticulturalism and antiracism which I have alluded toearlier in this chapter. By so doing I intend to clarifyhow antiracist educators view the term “racism.” As well, Iintend to show the connections between antiracist andpostcolonial criticisms of multicultural education policiesand curricula which fail to address adequately the problemsof racism in Canada and the world.Racism in Canada cannot, as some multiculturalistswould have us believe, be attributed to the aberrantattitudes and behaviours of a few white supremacists, but,instead, it must be seen as a phenomenon that is deeplyingrained within the political, social, economic, andcultural discourses and practices which are the legacy ofcenturies of colonial oppression. When Canada’s high schoolstudents read multicultural literature, therefore, theyshould be given the opportunity to examine some of thebroader postcolonial intertextual terrain within which theparticular texts they are studying have been constructed.265For instance, they should be made aware that racism hasbeen a persistent feature of the Canadian experience eversince the first Europeans began to colonize North America inthe 16th century. After perpetrating numerous crimesagainst Natives during the early years of British and Frenchcolonial rule in the new country which came to be known asCanada, one of the colonial oppressors’ more noteworthyabuses of First Nations people was the Indian Act of 1876which gave government administrators control over the livesof Indians, Metis, and Inuit by denying them the right toown land, to hold or attend large gatherings, to leave thereservations without permission, and to educate theirchildren in the ways of their ancestors (Frideres, 1988, p.75).Although Canada’s disenfranchised indigenouscommunities have experienced some of the most devastatingeffects of racism, such as the high levels of suicide amongNative youths, many other minority groups in Canada havealso suffered the abuses of institutional racism. AfterChinese—Canadians were no longer needed as a source of cheaplabour with which to build the trans-Canada railroad,numerous bills were passed to restrict their rights, themost notorious of which was the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act“which excluded the Chinese from entering Canada for twenty—266four years before it was repealed” (Li, 1988, p. 2). Duringthe Second World War 22,000 Canadians of Japanese descentwere forced to give up all of their property and to live ininternment camps even though the Vice-Chief of the GeneralStaff of the Canadian Army saw them as no threat to Canadiansecurity (Ujimoto, 1988, p. 143). In Canada, and throughoutthe British colonies, the abuses of East Indians asindentured labourers often resulted in their deaths bydisease or suicide because of a system of economicexploitation which in many respects was indistinguishablefrom slavery (Bolaria, 1988, p. 164).At the present time, although the Canadian governmenthas made some significant attempts to improve its humanrights legislation and to make reparations for pastinjustices through, for instance, the settlement of someNative land claims, there are still daily occurrences ofracist abuses of people of colour at the hands of the whitemajority. For example, during 1984 while 5,235 immigrantswere admitted to Canada as service workers with landedimmigrant status, 27,042 non-immigrants were admitted toperform service work. As one Jamaican woman observed, “Wehave become the new coolies in Canada — good enough to workon the land but not good enough to remain in the country”(Bolaria, p. 200).267A view of racial difference which does not focus thestudents’ attention upon such instances of institutionalracism, but simply encourages them to appreciate Canada’scultural diversity, will fail to enable high school studentsto deconstruct racist discourse as they encounter it indominant culture (mis)representations of Canada’s racialminorities, and such a view will also poorly prepare them tounderstand what minority writers are doing when they writeback against the oppressive discourses of empire in theircounter—hegemonic texts. To help teachers to avoid thepitfalls of the multiculturalist approach to dealing withracial diversity, therefore, Godfrey Brandt, in his book,The Realization of Antiracist Teachinc (1986), makes thefollowing distinctions between multicultural and antiracistdiscourse. While multiculturalists feel that the basicproblem is one of non-recognition of minority people and ofintercultural misunderstanding based upon ethnocentrism,antiracists feel that racism has historical roots and isembedded in such institutional practices as racialexploitation, containment, and marginalization. Themulticulturalists, therefore, believe that we simply needto find consensus between the majority and minorities byusing cultural pluralism as the model, and that racism willthen disappear, while antiracists complain of the conflict268between the racist state and racially—defined oppressedgroups. Where the key concepts for the multiculturalist arecultural awareness, equality, and self esteem, theantiracists are more concerned about human rights, power,and justice. While multiculturalists wish to eradicateprejudice, misunderstanding, and ignorance, the antiracistswish to fight existing power structures. In a word, then,multiculturalism means “awareness” while antiracism means“struggle” (p. 121).Although I have presented Brandt’s distinctions betweenmulticultural and antiracist discourse as if there were aclear difference separating the two approaches, Brandt iscareful to point out that these distinctions are in factfuzzy and that there are at least five ways of describingthe relationship between multiculturalism and antiracism.The first perspective describes multiculturalism as theattempt to bring about greater social harmony and mutualunderstanding in a society which is basically consensual.Racism is rarely addressed from this multiculturalperspective because its main goal is the celebration ofdiverse cultures. The second perspective sees antiracism asa subset of the dominant culture’s multicultural program.Antiracists would argue that this second perspective failsto acknowledge that multiculturalism is “a racial form of269education constructed by the oppressors to maintain thestatus quo of the dominant and dominated, of the oppressorand oppressed” (p. 118). In the third perspective teacherswith the right antiracist consciousness are expected tomulticulturalize the curriculum content, but this, ofcourse, can be a difficult task because of those complexfactors beyond the teachers’ control which govern thedevelopment of specific curricula. The fourth perspectiveemphasizes antiracism as the teacher’s primary goal, but italso assumes that the multicultural approach is a necessaryfeature of such antiracist education. And, finally, thefifth perspective is that multiculturalisxn is a strategyused by the dominant culture to cope with, rather than tomeet the special needs of, minority groups. Antiracisteducation must be led, therefore, by the minority groups’suggestions for opposing racism.Brandt’s distinctions between antiracism andmulticulturalism are very useful to English teachers whowould like to ensure that they are empowering their studentsto decode racist discourse at the same time as they areteaching them how to read multicultural literature.Nevertheless, what Brandt and many other antiracisteducators fail to do when they discuss how to combat racismis to problematize the term “racism” itself. For a270postcolonial deconstruction of this key term in theantiracist conception I now turn to the work of the AfricanAmerican literary theorist, Henry Louis Gates.One of the documentaries which I used to familiarize myOAC English students with the postcolonial theory ofrepresentation was Color Adlustment (1992), which wasproduced and directed by Marlon Riggs, with the support ofthe National Black Programming Consortium. In thisvideotape, sociologist, Herman Gray, and cultural critics,Patricia Turner and Henry Louis Gates Jr. provide a clearand easily understandable deconstruction of the changingimage of blacks on American television from the 1950s to thepresent. Near the beginning of the OAC multiculturalliterature course I introduced my students to therelationship between the problem of racism and postcolonialnotions of representation by showing them this hour—longstudy of such television classics as, “Amos and Andy,” “TheBeulah Show,” “The Nat King Cole Show,” “Julia,” “East Side,West Side,” “I Spy,” “All in the Family,” “Roots,” and “TheBill Cosby Show.”The documentary’s thesis, as it is elaborated by Gatesand his colleagues, is that it is the task of televisionproducers to sell the dream of the mythic American family insuch a way as to attract, without controversy, a large271viewing audience. In shows about white families in the1950s, such as “Father Knows Best,” characters lived anideal life in which love and humour could overcome anyconflicts that might arise for the fictional, normalAmerican family. Representations of black families, on theother hand, went through a series of adjustments over thefirst forty years of television as producers wrestled withissues of race relations at the same time as they tried tosatisfy their sponsors’ desire for high ratings.’The students’ viewing of Color Adjustment was intendedto clarify for them Gates’s key point about the problem ofliterary representation that no longer “are the concepts ofblack and white thought to be preconstituted; rather theyare mutually constitutive and socially produced” (Gates,1992, p. 309). Gates has arrived at this formulation of theproblematic nature of the black/white binary opposition byadopting a poststructural approach to interpreting African-American literature and culture:Drawing on poststructuralist theory as well as derivingtheories from black expressive, vernacular culture,[the work of critics such as Gates] might becharacterized as a new black aesthetic movement, thoughit problematizes the categories of both the “black” andthe “aesthetic.” An initial phase of theorizing hasgiven away to the generation of close readings thatattend the “social text” as well. These critics useclose readings to reveal cultural contradictions andthe social aspects of literature, the larger dynamics272of subjection and incorporati9 through which thesubject is produced. (p. 309)Besides the Color Adjustment documentary I provided theQAC students, as well, with a second model for theantiracist, postcolonial deconstruction of representationsof blacks by encouraging them to read Chinua Achebe’s essay,“An Image of Africa” (1988), in which he selects severalquotations from Heart of Darkness in order to prove that“Joseph Conrad was a thorough-going racist” (Achebe, 1988,p. 11). Achebe develops the argument that Conrad’srepresentation of Africans reduces them to a “whirl of blacklimbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodiesswaying, of eyes rolling” (Conrad cited in Achebe, 1988, p.5). He illustrates with several such quotations how Conraddenies speech to his Africans, how he contrasts the demonlover of Kurtz with his civilized fiancee back in Europe,and how he uses Africans to serve as a part of the primitiveand evil jungle rather than as three-dimensional humanbeings.Both the Gates documentary and the Achebe articledemonstrated to students that, while antiracism might be animportant aspect of their study of multicultural literature,the postcolonial theory of representation provides them withmany different ways of interpreting the discourses of race273which they encounter both in imperialist fiction such asConrad’s and in resistance texts such as Achebe’s.When the students next proceeded to read NadineGordimer’s short story, “Africa Emergent” (1992), many ofthem made good use of their newly acquired understanding ofliterary representation in their written and oral responsesto the story. “Africa Emergent” was selected from BarbaraSolomon’s anthology, Other Voices, Other Vistas (1992),which is an excellent collection of contemporary shortstories from Africa, China, India, Japan, and Latin America.Several of the short stories which I used in the OACMulticultural Literature course were taken from thisanthology.3“Africa Emergent” is a complex tale narrated by aliberal, white South African architect who is trying to makesense of the relationships which he has experienced over anumber of years with two black men. He had met them both inan amateur theatrical group and had tried to help each ofthem to experience success in their chosen vocations. Thefirst black man, Elias Nkomo, a gifted sculptor, is giventhe chance by an American benefactor to study art in theUnited States. But once he leaves South Africa he knows hewill never be allowed to return. Elias has difficultyproducing art in the United States and he seems to suffer274feelings of displacement as, for example, he is conscriptedby Stokely Carmichael to speak (wearing West African robes)at an anti-apartheid rally. Eventually Elias kills himselfleaving the narrator to wonder whether or not he waspersonally responsible in some way for the death of Elias.The second black man, who remains nameless throughout thestory, is a friend of Elias who also travels to the UnitedStates to study. His studies involve acting and directing.This “friend” of Elias is suspected of being a member of theSouth African secret police, but in the end he is imprisonedfor treason, and so the narrator remains uncertain aboutwhat really are the friend’s true allegiances.In order to enable the students to attempt their owninterpretations of the story, I asked them for homework towrite some observations about “African Emergent” in theirresponse journals but did not give them any questions toconsider in advance, because I did not wish to influencetheir interpretations. When they came to class the next daywe sat in a large circle and listened as studentsvolunteered either to read their responses verbatim or topresent their interpretations extemporaneously if theywished. After each response was heard other students couldask questions or they could offer counterarguments.275One student, for example, offered the followinginterpretation which in its references to the story’srepresentations of blackness and whiteness establishes theadded dimension that postcolonial readings can bring to theantiracist project:The two men, the narrator and Elias, seem to beclose but really aren’t, and it is not until Elias isgone that the narrator realizes the truth. He onlylikes Elias for his “white” qualities. Elias wanted tofit in and the narrator liked to see this in him andtried to amplify this by totally immersing him in whitesociety.f The unnamed character,] “he,” is the other partof the story that is more difficult to explain. He isthe perfect example of someone who has no real home.He is black but he is also “white.” This marks him asan outcast in both societies.Elias has a strong love for his home so moving tothe U.S. greatly affects him. He loses his real homeand can’t return and nobody in the U.S. understands hisreal ancestry. The Americans associate Elias with animage that he is nothing like.This student’s remarks were typical of many which werepresented to the class as the students came to recognizethat racism in the story was not a matter of individual,psychological bigotry but of the institutionalizedsegregation of whites and blacks through the systems ofapartheid in South Africa and of racial discrimination inthe United States. But even more significant was the factthat many of the students understood that the African—Americans in Gordimer’s narrative were also involved in asubtle way in the imperialist commodification of Elias as an276authentic and noble black brother from their ancestralhomeland. The student’s observations that the unnamed manis “black but he is also ‘white’” and that Elias is onlyliked “for his ‘white’ qualities” also indicate that Gates’sdeconstruction of the black/white binary opposition in ColorAdjustment was clearly understood by my students. In itsattempt to develop students’ levels of multiculturalliteracy the postcolonial approach encourages them to thinkin more complex ways than does the antiracist conceptionabout the possible meanings of the distinctions made intheir texts between blacks and whites or between Africansand African—Americans. While the antiracist conception,like the postcolonial approach, focusses upon the racisttreatment of blacks in the story, its lack of apoststructual theory of representation which encouragesstudents to play with binary oppositions such as black/whitedoes not enable students to think seriously about thecomplicities and commonalities among dominant and subalterngroups or about the socially constructed nature of blacknessand whiteness.A second student, Jeff, made some valuablecontributions to the class discussion by comparing therepresentations of black-white relations, of institutionalracism, and of injustice as these are portrayed in “Africa277Emergent” with what he had been learning in his independentstudy project about these aspects of South Africa from hisanalysis of Andre Brink’s novel, A Dry White Season (1979).For each of the five cultural groups (Africans, Indians,Chinese, Japanese, and Natives) whose literatures the classstudied, aproximately one fifth of the students wereinvolved in independent studies of that culture’sliterature. Thus, when the students were discussing Africanstories, for example, several of them were able tocontribute useful additional information from their readingof other books about African and African—America peoples.In Jeff’s case, for example, he chose to compare depictionsof racial tension in Brink’s novel with Spike Lee’s attemptto represent on film racial tensions in the United States inDo the Right Thing. Jeff’s postcolonial analysis of thecomplexities of representing racism and racial difference isclearly evident in the following excerpt from his essay on“Racial Tension in Do the Right Thing and A Dry WhiteSeason”:Brink chooses to have a white man tell a predominantlyblack story for several reasons. One reason is likelythat Brink does not want to overstep his bounds byspeculating on how a black man would feel about thesituation in South Africa... It is not by chance that[the white narrator) Ben Du Toit is ignorant of thetreatment of blacks at the start of the story....Through other characters, such as Stanley and Melanie,Brink makes sure this ignorance is not an acceptable278excuse for Ben’s inaction. These characters both notethat Ben’s ignorance was due in part to his living withhis eyes closed....Only by having a white narrator canBrink have a realistic means to enter into the truebureaucracy ofthe South African system of government.Du Toit’s failed inquests into the deaths of theNgubenes vivify the injustice of the system. A blacknarrator would tell of the turmoil of the townshipsbetter but would not even get through the doors ofgovernment buildings where the root of the problem isfound.When a student named Keith decided in his independentstudy project to compare representations of black men inHemingway’s Green Hills of Africa (1965) with those inAchebe’s No Longer at Ease (1960), he discovered severalinteresting contrasts between the two books:Hemingway respects the talented hunter, thebeautiful tribe, but cruelly pokes fun at thebelligerent or “useless” black man. He writes aboutthe Masai that “they were tall, their teeth white andgood, their hair was stained brown. . .they carriedspears and were extremely jolly, not sullen andcontemptuous like the northern Masai...They were thetallest, best built, handsomest people I had seen inAfrica.” His words of praise for the Masai’s physicalappearance are overwhelming. He qualifies hisstatement of course with the words “best in Africa” andmakes no mention of any cognitive, spiritual, musicalor other abilities they might possess. The unfortunatenon—hunter, the black man with “ugly negroid features”(p. 123), is ridiculed. He is also considereduntrustworthy. One such man they called the“tragedian” (p. 202), was named this because of hisanimated dress and speech. He could not hunt well, andHemingway must have disliked him. “He talks in his ownbloody language all the time, he’s probably lying”(321)Conversely, in No Longer at Ease, Achebe suggeststhat it was British interference in Nigeria thatcreated the lies and corruption that plague thegovernment. This book followed Things Fall Apart, astory about the disintegration of a Nigerian village at279the hands of European colonizers. In Achebe’s secondnovel, the English don’t have the same influence asthey did during the nineteenth century, but it seemsthat they still dominate the economy. A combination ofcorrupt, bribe-propelled politicians and a foreign-based economy, provide an inhospitable environment forthe heroic Obi Okonkwo to succeed.It is, therefore, evident in each of the above excerptsfrom response journals and independent study papers, that ifsenior high school students are given the rudiments of apostcolonial theory of representation upon which to basetheir interpretations of racist discourse in multiculturalliterature, then they are capable of achieving what Ibelieve to be rather sophisticated readings which enablethem to see, not only that racism is a product ofimperialism, but also that it is an issue which is hotlycontested within cultural discourses through writers’strategic deployments of stereotypical and oppositionalrepresentations of self and Other.While John Borovilos’s antiracist conception of themulticultural literature program has made a tremendouscontribution to the debates over racism in Ontario’s highschool English classes, I have argued that the addition ofpostcolonial reading strategies to programs such as his canimprove students’ abilities to interpret how racism isreproduced and resisted in the discourses which traversetheir multicultural literature texts.280Notes1. Gates argues that “Roots” represented the dream of themythic American family as this extremely popular made-for-television movie reduced the history of structural racism inthe United States to a tale of the brave struggles andeventual triumph of one immigrant family fighting against afew evil white men and establishing themselves in thepromised land. And in the 1980s “The Bill Cosby Show,” withits representation of a wealthy, successful black family,reinforced neo—conservative beliefs in the post—civil rightspolitics of the Reagan era with the comforting myth that ifAfrican-Americans would only develop the right attitude theycould overcome the mounting unemployment rate and becomedoctors and lawyers.2. Gates’s use of poststructural reading strategies hasbeen criticized by William E. Cain who argues that “the riskthat accompanies certain poststructuralist readings of Afro—American literature —— a risk apparent in Gates book —— isthat these readings may make the text less historicallygrounded and less socially significant even as they seek toenliven it with methodologically up-to-date, and seeminglyhistoricized, terms” (Cain, 1988, p. 201).3. Solomon provides an introduction to the anthology inwhich she discusses some of the reasons for readingcontemporary multicultural fiction. Among these reasons shesuggests that it can show us how “tribal values have beendestroyed by colonialism” (Solomon, 1992, p. 19). Althoughsome of Solomon’s introductory remarks about “universalhuman values” and “an essential human condition” (p. 14)indicate that she is not, herself, a postcolonial theorist,her analysis of such themes as “global awareness,” “humanrights,” and “poverty” can serve as useful starters forclass discussions about the anthology’s stories. Also thebiographical information which Solomon presents is veryhelpful for its suggestions of additional readings by eachauthor which the students might wish to consider. Some ofthe internationally respected writers included in OtherVoices, Other Vistas are Chinua Achebe, Wang Anyi, WangMeng, R. K. Narayan, Anita Desai, Kobo Abe, Yukio Mishima,Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Jorge LuisBorges.281Chapter 8ConclusionsIn the preceding chapters I have attempted to comparethe effectiveness of existing multicultural literaturecurriculum conceptions with the postcolonial approach.These comparisons have illustrated various ways in which thepostcolonial conception offers more pertinent theoreticalperspectives and reading strategies than do the NewCritical, archetypal, feminist, reader—response, andantiracist conceptions for helping students and teachers tointerpret the necessarily dynamic and heterogeneous textualrepresentations of dominant and subaltern cultures as theseare encountered in literary works.My analysis of the New Critical conception’s relianceupon aesthetic interpretation and upon the notion of theunified work of literature has shown how the postcolonialconception can retain many of the worthwhile readingstrategies of the New Critical approach while, at the sametime, it can add to the critical process the opportunity forstudents to deconstruct, for example, Orientalist discourseswhich traverse Eurocentric depictions of Indians.282In Chapter 4 I deconstructed the archetypalconception’s attempts, on the one hand, to locate NorthAmerican Native people’s essence inside a purported mysticalbond with nature and, on the other, to use Jung’s theory ofarchetypes to justify this essentialist move. My reason forcarrying out a postcolonial critique of the archetypalconception was that, as Arnold Krupat argues, archetypalismaffords no space in which cultural difference can beexplored to the advantage of both Native and non—Nativeborder intellectuals.My critique of the feminist conception’s attempt toidentify the essential features of oppressed women as thesefeatures are discussed in world literature is that thisuniversalist project fails to take into consideration thegreat variety of problems experienced by women of differentcultures as well as the variations in experience among womenwithin a given community such as the first— and second—generation Chinese—Americans represented in theautobiographical fiction of Maxine Hong Kingston and AmyTan.The point of my deconstruction of the reader—responseconception’s notion of the reader’s relationship to cultureis that it does not take into account the biculturalperspectives which many high school students in Canada and283the United States today bring to their interpretations ofliterary texts. From the postcolonial perspective, there isno such thing as a pure cultural insider. Students readingacross cultures, therefore, can often deconstruct thetraditional insider-outsider binary opposition which hasbeen used, for instance, by essentialists to stereotypeAsian people and their cultures.Finally, the problem which I found with the antiracistconception’s definition of “racism” is that, while it isvery effective at drawing student’s attention toimperialism’s project of reifying “racial difference” toperpetuate the dominant culture’s control over the subalternwithin such oppressive social, political, and legalconstructions as apartheid, antiracism lacks a sophisticatedtheory of representation with which to enable students todeconstruct racist rhetoric within imperialist discourses.As well, the antiracist conception of the multiculturalliterature curriculum does not sufficiently emphasize thenature of the struggles which take place, for example, whenwriters such as Chinua Achebe combine European and Ibunarrative techniques to write back against therepresentational strategies employed by Eurocentric writers.Although each chapter has focused upon a differentconception of the multicultural literature curriculum, the284criteria which I have employed to measure the effectivenessof each curricular approach have been the same throughoutthe thesis. In every case I have argued that whatdistinguishes the postcolonial conception from otherapproaches to the teaching of multicultural literature isits goal of developing multicultural literacy in students byhelping theni to achieve greater sophistication in theirinterpretations of texts and by enabling them to reach anacceptable level of skill at intercultural communication.What remains to be elaborated, however, is the natureof the challenges which still face the advocates of thepostcolonial conception. I therefore devote the first halfof this chapter to answering three questions which I haveyet to address fully in the previous chapters: 1) What havebeen the results of my border pedagogic attempts to developmulticultural literacy in students? 2) How are teachers toconstruct their authority within a poststructural curriculumconception? and 3) How are students to adopt a moralposition while recognizing the need to relativize their ownbeliefs when reading the literature of other cultures? Ithen conclude by examining some of the potentially fruitfulaspects of the postcolonial conception which are perhapsworthy of further consideration by teachers and researcherswho may wish to construct their own multicultural literature285curricula and to expand upon the theoretical foundations ofthis project.Throughout this thesis I have chosen to use the termmulticultural literacy, rather than cultural literacy, todescribe the reading and writing skills acquired by thestudents I have studied. I have defined multiculturalliteracy in Chapter 2 as involving students in theinterpretation of various literatures, and I have, thus,distinguished it from E. D. Hirsch’s (1987) notion ofcultural literacy which encourages students instead to focusprimarily upon classic and modern works of the Westernliterary tradition. In so doing I have attempted toemphasize how important it is for the teacher, as borderpedagogue, to encourage students to deconstruct notions ofcultural difference which they encounter in their texts.Such postcolonial responses to texts enable students toanalyse literary representations from multiple perspectives,thereby calling into question writers’ stereotypicaldepictions of cultural groups. It obviously lies beyond thescope of this thesis to state in quantifiable terms theextent to which the students in my study benefitted fromtheir experiences. Nevertheless, each time I have readtheir response journals, tests, essays, and e—mailcorrespondence in order to assess the levels of286multicultural literacy attained by the students, I haveasked myself whether or not they have come to a betterunderstanding of themselves and their peers. At the sametime I have considered to what extent their work withmulticultural literature and their efforts at interculturalcommunication have changed their views of the variouscultures they have studied.In Roger Simon’s book, Teaching Against the Grain:Texts for a Pedagogy of Possibility (1992), he argues thatyoung readers need to be given opportunities to “shift thegrounds of [their] own readings” (p. 114):We might take the central aim of textual study as self-referential. That is, through a study of one’sresponses to text, one can be helped to locate oneself(one’s perceptions, beliefs, desires) within the very‘worldly’ discourses that constitute a person’s way ofbeing in the world. This would be done with the intentof raising questions as to the commitments, ethics,limitations, and possibilities of such discourses.This effort would be part of a pedagogical project thatis concerned with helping students to come to a betterunderstanding of who they are, how their history hasbeen constituted, and how this knowledge can open uppossibilities for change and enhancement, not only oftheir own lives but the lives of others as well. (pp.114—115)As I now briefly summarize some of the students’ gainsin multicultural literacy which I have recorded throughoutthis dissertation, I subscribe to Simon’s vision of thecentral aim of textual study which is to help students tounderstand who they are and how they can change and enhance287not only “their own lives but the lives of others as well.”In Chapter 3, forexample, during one student’s comparisonof representations of Indian women in Forster’s A Passage toIndia and Mukherjee’s Jasmine and “The Management of Grief,”she claimed to have learned a great deal about thedifficulties encountered by Indian immigrant women inCanada, while, at the same time, she felt that she hadgained an appreciation of the different ways in which Indianwomen were portrayed by each writer. The Native students inBritish Columbia and the non—Native students in Ontario whomI studied in Chapter 4, when given the opportunity to share,via computer communications, their impressions of familyrelationships and of racism, discovered both that theypossessed a common respect for the stories of their eldersand that each of their communities suffered, in differentways and to different degrees, from the effects of Europeanimperialism’s legacy of institutional racism. The young menand women students whom I observed in Chapter 5 exercisedtheir skills at feminist interpretations of stories aboutChinese women by both Chinese and British writers as theygained a new appreciation of the complexities ofautobiographical fiction and of the contrasting values anddiscourses of first— and second—generation Chinese—Americans. In Chapter 6, the collaborative responses which288took place between bilingual Japanese students in Kyoto andChinese—Canadian students in Vancouver enabled them not onlyto understand more clearly the themes and symbols of theJapanese short story which they studied together, but theircollaborations also taught them that they were not alone intheir feelings of dislocation as they attempted to sharewith each other what it means to be, in Trinh Minh-ha’sterms, hyphenated selves. And, finally, the comparativeanalyses which students carried out in Chapter 7 between therepresentations of Africans which they discovered in theworks of Eurocentric and postcolonial writers, helped themto attain a sophistication in their understanding of thedifferences between the writing, for example, of thetourist, Ernest Hemingway, and the resistance writer, ChinuaAchebe, which they could not have achieved without borderpedagogy’s postcolonial approach to the development ofmulticultural literacy. It is reasonable to conclude, then,that the students’ exposure to a rudimentary postcolonialtheory of representation provided them with a broader baseof reading and writing strategies and theoretical insightsinto the relationship between imperialism and culture thanthey would have had access to had they responded to theirmulticultural texts using only traditional literary criticalreading strategies. Indeed, they repeatedly demonstrated in289their work, not only their newly acquired skill at comparingEurocentric and postcolonial representations of dominant andsubaltern cultures, but also their personal engagement withthe moral, political, religious, and economic issues raisedin the various discourses of their multicultural texts asthey reassessed their own cultural assumptions in relationto those which they had encountered during their studies.Despite my attempts, however, to prove, throughanalyses of student writing, that a valid and importantvariety of postcolonial interpretation can take place in thehigh school English classroom, critics of the postcolonialconception might still justifiably wonder whether or not thedevelopment of multicultural literacy is possible at thehigh school level if it requires students to becomecompetent deconstructive theorists. Even Gayatri Spivak,one of postcolonial theory’s strongest advocates, hasclaimed, in Outside in the Teaching Machine (1993),concerning a form of literacy which closely parallels my ownnotion of multicultural literacy, that “it is perhapsunrealistic to expect transnational literacy in the highschool classroom” (p. 269). And yet, in the same chapter,Spivak goes on to point out that “the high school humanitiesclass is restructuring itself by way of books such asCultural Literacy” (p. 270). If this restructuring process290is to take into account postcolonialism’s concerns about therelationship between culture and imperialism, then there islittle choice but to counter Hirsch’s notion with some formof multicultural (transnational) literacy at the high schoollevel.If we look more closely for a moment at the way inwhich Spivak conceives transnational literacy it can beargued, I believe, that her pedagogical approach containsmany of the same elements which are a part of thepostcolonial conception I have been advocating here:The point [of transnational cultural studies] is tonegotiate between the national, the gobal, and thehistorical as well as the contemporary diasporic. Wemust both anthropologize the West, and study thevarious cultural systems of Africa, Asia, Asia—Pacific,and the Americas as if peopled by historical agents.(p. 278)Spivak’s only stated reason for excluding transnationalliteracy from the high school curriculum (and, for thatmatter, from the undergraduate curriculum as well) is thatshe is concerned about causing a “preprogrammed hostilitytoward poststructuralism” (p. 273) before the students reachthe graduate school level. But she qualifies her remarkseventually with regard to the teaching of postructuralreading strategies at least to undergraduates:It is because I am confident of the practicalpossibilities of the critique of humanism that :1 amcautious about using it too soon as more than a291pedagogical method, or as a pervasive and foregroundedstructural topic of discussion. I am not discouragingtheoretical teaching, or even an integration of theoryinto the general approach, on the undergraduate level.And I insist that the critical moment be included inteaching the great masters of European criticism, apractice that is all—too—often ignored even in graduateteaching. (p. 274)In the final analysis, therefore, I believe that mydecision to use postcolonial literary theory to informborder pedagogy is compatible with Spivak’s transnationalcultural literacy project. Both Spivak and I cautionagainst teaching high school students either the abstrusecritical vocabulary or the intricate and often maddeningarguments of a Derrida, Foucault, or Lyotard. But Ibelieve, as well, that I have provided some initial evidencein this dissertation that the hostility, which Spivak fearsmay be generated toward poststructuralism, need not occur ifhigh school teachers are thoughtful about how they usetheory and how they choose to construct their own authoritywithin the classroom.The problem of teaching multicultural literature tohigh school students from a poststructural perspective suchas postcolonialism, as I have mentioned several timesthroughout this dissertation, is that the teacher must learnhow to help students to dismantle the tools of imperialism’sdiscourses while, at the same time, he or she is employed byan institution which, as Robert Morgan (1990) has argued,292has a century-old tradition of reproducing BritishImperialist hegemonic discourses. If the teacher is,therefore, to subvert dominant culture Eurocentric discoursepractices, then she or he must enable students todeconstruct teacher—talk in the same ways that they must beencouraged in the postcolonial model to deconstruct anyother discourses which arise in classroom discussions and intheir texts.I turn next, therefore, to an analysis of the problemof negotiating teacher authority in the multiculturalliterature classroom because it is this problem which Ibelieve is at the heart of debates about how to deconstructthe master narratives of imperialism in the multiculturalclassroom without at the same time completely underminingthe authority of the teacher (Shor & Freire, 1987;Ellsworth, 1989; Aronowitz & Giroux, 1991). The problem ofteacher authority in the postcolonial conception is directlyrelated to the questioning of the metaphysical foundationsof all master narratives by poststructural theory. Just aspoststructural theory supplements the idea of authorialpresence with the notion of intertextuality, so the focus inthe multicultural literature classroom must shift, I wouldargue, so that the teacher does not act as the centralauthority on all matters. Instead, students can interact293with texts and with one another in the space that opens upwhen the teacher disappears as an enforcer of dominantculture discourse. One influencial formulation of thecrisis of authority is offered by Foucault in his essay,“What is an Author?”:It is not enough to repeat the empty affirmation thatthe author has disappeared. For the same reason, it isnot enough to keep repeating (after Nietzsche) that Godand man have died a common death. Instead, we mustlocate the space left empty by the author’sdisappearance, follow the distribution of gaps andbreaches, and watch for the openings that thisdisappearance uncovers. (1989, p. 266)The author’s role as an authority figure, then, iscalled into question by poststructuralism in much the sameway that the teacher’s role is reconsidered from apostcolonial perspective. In the postcolonial conception ofthe multicultural literature curriculum teachers areencouraged to subvert their own authority as reproducers ofdominant culture ideology. Thus, for example, they mustconsciously guard against speaking for the Other, whetherthat person is a student in the classroom or a multiculturalwriter whose work the students are trying to read. LindaAlcoff (1991) has carefully studied the problem of speakingfor others and has made some important observations whichcan help to resolve the contentious issues which have arisenaround the issue of teacher authority. As Alcoff points294out, with regard to the notion that a speaker’s sociallocation greatly affects his or her ability to speak foranother, she rejects “reductionist theories of justificationand essentialist accounts of what it means to have alocation. To say that a location bears on meaning and truthis not the same as saying that location determines meaningand truth” (p. 16). In reference to Gayatri Spivak’sarticle, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (1988c), Alcoff arguesthat speaking for others can sometimes engage the speaker inthe production of dangerous representations. “In the endSpivak prefers a ‘speaking to,’ in which the intellectualneither abnegates his or her discursive role nor presumes anauthenticity of the oppressed but still allows for thepossibility that the oppressed will produce a‘countersentence’ that can then suggest a new historicalnarrative” (pp. 22—23). However, in order for borderpedagogues to facilitate the production of the subaltern’s“countersentences,” according to Alcoff, these teachers mustmake a concerted effort to transform the culturalinteractions within their classrooms by creating theconditions in which dialogic encounters can take place. Shepoints out, for example, that “it has long been noted thatexisting communications technologies have the potential toproduce these kinds of interaction even though research and295development teams have not found it advantageous undercapitalism to do so” (p. 23). In Chapters 4 and 6 of thisthesis I have made an effort to reverse this trend bykeeping teacher interventions to a minimum and by lettingthe computer serve as the principal medium through whichstudents can speak for themselves while also learning thelimits to their own rights and abilities to speak forothers.1I have endeavoured in each chapter to argue that thepostcolonial conception, in developing students’multicultural literacy, has helped them to interrogateoppressive imperialist discourses. Some would object,nevertheless, that the postcolonial approach contains nostrong moral principles, such as those advocated, forexample, within the antiracist conception, upon which tobase the teaching of ethical problem solving and criticalthinking skills. But this type of objection, which isdirected not only against postcolonial literary theory butalso against any other theories which make use ofdeconstructive methods of anaylsis, is based upon too narrowan understanding of the problem of authority which I havebeen discussing in this chapter and with the problem ofrepresentation which I have addressed throughout thisthesis. When critics of postcolonialism’s apparent lack of296ethical principles misinterpret attempts by theorists suchas Said and Spivak to expose the injustices perpetuatedthrough imperialism’s discourse practices, at the centre ofthese critics’ misunderstandings of the postcolonial projectis the fact that deconstruction eschews any claims to moralobjectivity. Nevertheless, the various attacks whichFoucault has made upon the oppressive discourse practices ofpenitentiaries and psychiatric hospitals, and which Said hascarried out against Orientalist discourses, can hardly beconsidered amoral (or immoral) projects, based as they areupon problematizing the relationship between power andknowledge.2In order for the postcolonial conception of themulticultural literature curriculum to be recognized as apedagogy of moral engagement, or, to use Roger Simon’s(1992) term, a “pedagogy of possibility,” it is importantthat students and teachers understand why, at the same time,deconstructions of intertextual networks of power/knowledgeare not concerned with the illusive task of achieving moralobjectivity in literary analyses. Christopher Norris (1982)summarizes the ways Michel Foucault and Edward Said dealwith the relationships which they have discovered betweenpower and knowledge in the following passage:297Foucault follows Nietzsche in deconstructing thosesystems of thought which mask their incessant will topower behind a semblance of objective knowledge. Hisanalysis of these various ‘discursive practices’constantly points to their being involved in a politicsnone the less real for its inextricably textualcharacter. Edward Said, in his book, Orientalism(1978), has offered a very practical example of howdeconstruction can engage cultural history on its owntextual ground and contest its claims to objectivity.The image of ‘the Orient’ constructed by generations ofscholars, poets and historians is shown to be governedby an ethnocentric discourse secure in the power of itssuperior wisdom. Occidental reason is confirmed pointfor point in its mythography of oriental laziness,guile and ‘exotic’ irrationalism. To combat thisdiscourse by exposing its ruses of metaphor is not toset up as a ‘science’ unmasking the confusions ofideology. It is an act of challenge which situatesitself on rhetorical ground the better to meet and turnback the claims of a spurious objectivity.(pp.87—8)Poststructuralists such as Foucault and Said do have anethical position, therefore, but their moral stance is basedupon exposing the contradictions, damaging pretences, andfalse claims of objectivity which they discover in theoppressive discourses of the dominant culture.Nevertheless, the problematic nature of the interconnectionsbetween power and knowledge in the discursive practicesexamined by Foucault and Said have lead many postcolonialtheorists to conclude that a form of ethical relativism orpragmatism is a necessary feature of the study ofmulticultural literature. Such a stance requires the moralagent to acknowledge that ethical principles are always opento challenge or revision. It also requires the agent,298however, on a regular basis, to reason through and defendthose ethical principles which she or he considers to be ofworth. Christopher Miller (1990), in the chapter,“Ethnicity and Ethics,” from his book, Theories of Africans(1990), after justifying the relativism which he feels mustbe a part of his studies of African literature, concludesthat it is more dangerous to fail to relativize one’s ownbeliefs when reading the literature of other cultures thanit is to remain within them:Unless the Western critic attempts to suspend - to holdin at least temporary abeyance — the systematiccriteria and judgements that emanate from Westernculture, ethnocentrism will persist forever. There isno way to break down intellectual imperialism ifWestern disciplines are not reconceived as ‘localknowledge.’ The Western critic must, of course, avoidthe converse error, that of being deluded into thinkinghis/her beliefs have been completely suspended and thathis/her analysis is transcendentally ‘free’. (p. 65)Miller, therefore, suggests that Western readers ofAfrican literature must use whatever information they canfind from anthropology, history, comparative religion, etc.,to attempt to see texts from local perspectives ratherthan to view them exclusively from the traditional Westernperspective. This approach does not involve a simplecontextualizing of the literature, however, because thoseanthropology texts which readers use to become informed299about local cultures may themselves be greatly influenced bythe traditional Western perspective.Postcolonial reading strategies, therefore, offerteachers and students a means of questioning ethical beliefsand of opposing Eurocentric biases in the discourses oftheir texts, in their class discussions, and in theirinteractions with the world outside the classroom. Thus,the argument throughout this thesis has been that studentsmust learn repeatedly to construct, and deconstruct, thegiven and assumed representations of themselves and theirworlds in order to relate to the multitude of moral andcultural differences which they encounter in their studiesof multicultural texts. The postcolonial curriculumconception, by encouraging students to carry on thesedeconstructive analyses can hardly be said to lack anethical dimension. Moral dilemmas are, in fact, one of themost common topics of discussion for students and teacherswho employ postcolonial reading strategies. By criticallyexamining how cultures are represented from dominant andsubaltern perspectives students discover that moralprinciples are deployed as levers of power by both sides.It then becomes the task of students not only to weigh therelative merits of opposing representations of moral truthsbut to deconstruct how and why those representations have300been constructed. This, of course, does not preclude themfrom taking a stand ethically on a pragmatic, if nottranscendental ground.If the preceding argument is accepted, that thepostcolonial conception is an ethically valid project inwhich teachers and students gain their authority partly bylearning when it is more appropriate to listen to, or tospeak with, rather than to speak for the Other, and in whichthe attainment of multicultural literacy is the principalgoal of postcolonial literary study, then, in the spacewhich remains, I would like to turn now to a survey offuture research projects which could follow logically fromthe work begun in this dissertation. There are a number ofpossibilities for further foundational and practicalresearch projects which could be based upon the postcolonialconception of the multicultural literature curriculum.However, let me preface these remarks by observing that,particularly as deconstruction, feminism, and culturalstudies continue to develop new features and readingstrategies, postcolonial theory and its applications inuniversity comparative and commonwealth literature courseswill change accordingly. The postcolonial conception shouldnot, therefore, be considered a static or closed theory butone which will continue to be transformed as modifications301in related theories take place. Thus researchers andteachers who wish to make future improvements to thepostcolonial conception of the high school multiculturalliterature curriculum should continue to read new works byestablished theorists such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak,Arnold Krupat, Gerald Vizenor, Lisa Lowe, Rey Chow, TrinhMinh—ha and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as well as works by newtheorists to be found in journals such as World LiteratureToday, Critical Inquiry, Cultural Critique and CollegeLiterature.In Chapters 4 and 6 I have discussed intercultural,computer—mediated, collaborative responses to Native andJapanese literature via e—mail. This is a relatively newarea of reader—response research which postcolonial notionssuch as Arnold Krupat’s ethnocriticism, Trinh Minh—ha’shyphenated selves, and Henry Giroux’s border pedagogy canhelp to illuminate. Much more needs to be said, forinstance, about the problems and potentials of interculturalcollaborations using international computer networks such asInternet to enable students to share their impressions ofvarious literatures and cultures with their partners fromdistant lands. Thus far I have observed the interactionsamong only two sets of students and discovered that thetypes of discourses produced in each case varied widely302according to the needs and interests of the classesinvolved. Clearly, then, as future researchers examinedifferent cultural groups’ responses to literature, theproblems, needs, and approaches of the teachers and studentsinvolved will vary according to their cultural backgrounds.Besides these kinds of computer—mediated, interculturalcollaborations, there are, of course, a number of otherimportant recent developments in computer technology whichneed to be explored by researchers and teachers who areinterested in facilitating the development of high schoolstudents’ multicultural literacy. George Landow (1992), forexample, has discovered in hypertext computer software avery important aid for enabling students to experiencemulticultural intertextuality through computer-mediatedliterary research. In the following passage Landowdescribes his approach to teaching the works of Wole Soyinkain the introductory English survey course at BrownUniversity:One has to provide materials on colonial andpostcolonial African history, politics, economics,geography, and religion. Since Soyinka combinesEnglish literary forms with Yoruban myth, one mustprovide information about that body of thought andencourage students to link it to Western and non—Western religions. (Landow, 1992, p. 159)Thus, as the students read one of Soyinka’s texts usinga hypertext computer program, they can branch off into303readings of related information whenever the author makesallusions to cultural contexts which are new to the student.Although, at the present time, the process of developinghypertextual learning materials for high school studentsseems rather a remote possibility, it is still a promisingmodel for providing interdisciplinary and collaborative teamteaching opportunities among high school teachers.While the main focus of this thesis has been upon howto teach students to read novels, short stories, and poetry,there is a need to consider as well how postcolonialtheories of representation can affect the teaching of medialiteracy. In media literacy courses we need to move beyondthe analysis of stereotypes in films, magazines, televisionshows, and music videos, to consider the wider range ofissues about cultural imperialism and representations of theOther which postcolonial theory raises. I have discussedbriefly how postcolonial theorists such as Rushdie andMukherjee have deconstructed representations of Indians inDavid Lean’s film version of A Passage to India and how Loweand Chow have responded to Peter Wang’s film, A Great Wall.But there are also many other examples of interpretations offilms about India and China from which to choose if teachersand researchers are looking for models of such postcolonialfilm interpretations to provide for their students. With304the wide range of films that are now available on videotapesuch as Peter Brook’s version of the ancient India epic, TheMahabharata, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Thomas King’sMedicine River, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, there isno lack of opportunity for teachers to help their mediastudents to analyze film’s both by Eurocentric directors andby postcolonial film—makers. Nor is there any lack ofcritical material for teachers who wish to provide modelsfor their students’ deconstructions of orientalism andracism in these films. Gautam Dasgupta’s article, “PeterBrook’s ‘Orientalism’” (1991), for example, enables studentsand teachers to see some of the complexities of Brook’sattempt to capture the sacred Hindu text in a nine-hour-longfilm:What is indisputably true is that such stagings [needto] address, implicitly and explicitly, a deeplyingrained structure of ritual beliefs and ethical codesof conduct intrinsic to its audience. The Mahabharatais nothing, an empty shell, if it is read merely as acompendium of martial legends, of revenge, valour andbravura. (Dasgupta, 1991, p. 264)Media students viewing portions of Brook’s film,therefore, could be encouraged to compare scenes from themovie with excerpts from the original text of IiMahabharata (translated into English) in order to see howthe intercultural blending of actors and acting styles whichBrook’s adopts in his film changes the students’305understanding of the cultural contents of the tale. Ifmedia literacy is also to involve multicultural literacy,then teachers and researchers in the future will need tohelp students to become sensitized to the interculturalconflicts and orientalism which are affecting theirperceptions of the cultures which they encounter in films.3As I have argued throughout this thesis, postcolonialtheory is not only interested in explaining to NorthAmerican high school students how to interpret contemporarymulticultural texts written by Chinese, Japanese, or Africanwriters, but it is also concerned with helping them todeconstruct traditional and contemporary white, mainstreamliterature written by a William Somerset Maugham or a JosephConrad at the beginning of this century or by a Paul Therouxor a Mark Saltzman at the end of it. Much more needs to bedone in the high school English curriculum aboutdeconstructing mainstream literature from a postcolonialperspective. Thus a work such as Jane Eyre could besupplemented with Jean Rhys’s postcolonial version ofBronte’s tale, Wide Sarcasso Sea. Works such as HuckleberryFinn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Tempest could bereconsidered using postcolonial deconstructive readingstrategies. Instead of being concerned only with how peopleof colour are portrayed in these texts, however, the306challenge ahead is to provide students with opportunities toinvestigate how “whiteness” is represented in them as well.As bell hooks points out in her article, “RepresentingWhiteness in the Black Imagination” (1992), “it is usefulwhen theorizing black experience to examine the way theconcept of ‘terror’ is linked to representations ofwhiteness.” She learned, for instance, as an AfricanAmerican child that it “was important to recognize the powerof whiteness, even to fear it, and to avoid encountering it”(p. 344). Further research needs to be done into applyingsuch methods of decoding the dominant culture’s hidden signsof difference so that students and teachers of multiculturalliterature can learn to focus not only upon how the victimsof imperialism have been encoded in texts but also how theiroppressors have been represented.Although I concur with many others such as Simonson &Walker (1988), Aiex (1989), and Duff & Tongchinsub (1990)that the high school canon needs to be radically changed tosuit the multicultural students who are reading these texts,I am not suggesting that one new canon be constructed toreplace the old, nor am I advocating the removal of all“classics” from the classroom, but, instead, I believe thatteachers in specific locations need to assess the needs oftheir students, and then, after teaching various books, they307need to share their findings with colleagues so as todevelop curricula appropriate to their local populations.For example, when Sheryl Little was recently asking othermembers of the “Native Conference” on the Ontario ElectronicVillage Bulletin Board System what texts they thought sheshould teach in her new Native Literature course for grade11 students in a mixed Native and non—Native school, shementioned that she thought the rough language andhomosexuality in Tomson Highway’s The RezSisters would not be well received by the students andparents in her community. Another member of the conference,however, mentioned that her senior students found the play’slanguage not to be objectionable but to be necessary for thedevelopment of the themes which Highway was addressing.Closely connected to the problems of reconstructing thehigh school literary canon, are the difficulties teachersface when they attempt to decide which anthologies, if any,they wish to use in their multicultural literature courses.If teachers are to know how to select multiculturalliterature works for their curricula, then currentanthologies need to be assessed in order to determine theirsuitability for classroom use. At the same time we need toexplore how to stock high school libraries, train librarypersonnel, and supply library computer databases such as308those available on the Internet to enable students ofmulticultural literature to carry out their independentresearch by supplementing their texts with others from theschool’s resource center.While I have been focussing here upon students’ writtenresponses to literature, it is also possible in high schoolcourses such as written composition, history, geography, andsociology for students to employ postcolonial deconstructivereading and writing strategies. For example, deconstructionin university composition courses is now becoming popular(Atkins & Johnson, 1985; Barker & Kemp, 1990; Crowley, 1989;Donahue & Quandahl, 1989), but it has yet to be implementedby many high school teachers of composition. Much moreresearch, therefore, is necessary in how to teach studentsto play deconstructively with notions such as voice (Leggo,1989) and invention (Harms, 1991) in their writing. Highschool history teachers need to introduce their students tothe deconstructive reading strategies of new historicismwhich have begun to change how historians at the universitylevel interpret texts. And opportunities exist to carry outintegrated studies units among English, history, geography,and sociology courses, if teachers wish to examine the waysin which the discourses of nationhood and cultural309difference are presently being deconstructed in universityCultural Studies courses (Bhabha, 1990).While research, therefore, needs to be done concerningthe application of postcolonial reading and writingstrategies across high school humanities and social sciencescurricula, practical applications of the postcolonial theoryof representation could also add an important dimension tothe teaching of high school drama courses. If, forinstance, scenes from Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters(1988) or Frank Chin’s Chickencoop Chinaman (1991) were tobe performed by drama students, they could be encouraged touse postcolonial reading strategies to analyse how theircharacters have been represented and to determine how theywish to interpret and perform their roles. The students’postcolonial interpretations would move beyond the usualattempts to understand a character’s motivations to include,instead, deconstructions of the multiple discourses which agiven character speaks both verbally and physically. Howthe students say their lines and react to their fellowactors’ lines will not be a function of their ability toimitate the Native or Chinese people represented in theirtexts, but it will rather depend upon how thoroughly thestudents have grasped the complexities of the discoursepatterns in their texts. Grappling with the complexities of310the heterogeneous speech patterns uttered by theircharacters could prove a powerful new method both forenabling students to play with the dramatic interpretationand performance of colonial and postcolonial discourses, andfor helping them to understand how, at the level of speechacts, individual subjects both control and are controlled bythe effects of imperialism.I have attempted in this dissertation to develop apostcolonial conception of the multicultural literaturecurriculum which would provide teachers who are using NewCritical, archetypal, feminist, reader—response, andantiracist pedagogical strategies with opportunities both toreconsider the theoretical assumptions behind their presentteaching practices and to show them what I believe to be animportant new method of thinking about the teaching ofmulticultural texts. By comparing the postcolonial approachwith these other conceptions my goal has not been to rejectthe useful features of the curricula commonly in use in highschool English courses throughout Canada and the UnitedStates. On the contrary, by devoting considerable space inthe preceding pages to a review of a variety of interestingteaching strategies which educators such as Felsher (1968),Grant (1986a), Traubitz (1991), Olds (1990), and Borovilos(1990) have derived from traditional literary theories, it311has been my intention to show that each of these conceptualframeworks can be first critiqued and then modified toprovide students and teachers with more interesting ways ofresponding to their multicultural texts. But where each ofthe existing conceptions has the potential to perpetuateEurocentric imperialist interpretations of cultures, thepostcolonial conception should prove a useful tool for thosewho wish to recognize some of the complexities which arebuilt into representations of people and places as a resultof the fascinating relationship that has existed forcenturies between culture and imperialism.Notes1. Alcoff offers four very useful ways in which teachersand students should learn to be careful when speaking forothers: “1. The impetus to speak must be carefully analyzedand, in many cases (certainly for academics!), foughtagainst. This may seem an odd way to begin discussing howto speak for, but the point is that the impetus to always bethe speaker and to speak in all situations must be seen forwhat it is: a desire for mastery and domination. If one’simmediate impulse is to teach rather than to listen to aless—privileged speaker, one should resist that impulse longenough to interrogate it carefully. Some of us have beentaught that by right of having the dominant gender, class,race, letters after our name, or some other criterion we aremore likely to have the truth. Others have been taught theopposite, and will speak haltingly, with apologies, if theyspeak at all (p. 24).... 2. We must also interrogate thebearing of our location and context on what it is we aresaying, and this should be an explicit part of every seriousdiscursive practice we engage in. Constructing hypothesesabout the possible connections between our locations and our312words is one way to begin. This procedure would be mostsuccessful if engaged in collectively with others, by whichaspects of our location less highlighted in our own mindsmight be revealed to us (p. 25).... 3. speaking shouldalways carry with it an accountability and responsibilityfor what one says. To whom one is accountable is apolitical/epistemological choice contestable, contingent,and as Donna Haraway says, constructed through the processof discursive action. What this entails in practice is aserious and sincere commitment to remain open to criticismand to attempt actively, attentively, and sensitively to‘hear’ (understand) the criticism. A quick impulse toreject criticism must make one wary (pp. 25—26).... 4. Inorder to evaluate attempts to speak for others in particularinstances, we need to analyse the probable or actual effectsof the words on the discursive and material context. Onecannot simply look at the location of the speaker or hercredentials to speak, nor can one look merely at thepropositional content of the speech; one must also look atwhere the speech goes and what it does there” (p. 26).2. Many critics, such as Washington (1989) and Ellis (1989)for example, have argued that deconstructive theory lacks anethical dimension. The following is a good example of howdeconstruction is characterized by its opponents: “Derrida’sview of the relationship between methodology and ideologicalcritique is determined by his belief that there is noobjective standpoint from which value—systems can beimpartially reviewed. This has become a commonplace in ourown time, and deconstruction can legitimately be regarded asa form of dogmatic skepticism. In such a context thecritic’s task is not the pursuit of truth but the alwaysrelativised evaluation of all discourses including — andprimarily — his own. This does not mean that no discoursesare better than others, only that better and worse arethemselves values determined in context, not in relation toan absolute external standard” (Washington, 1989, p. 87).3. Consider, for example, the representations of theChinese which the students encounter in films ranging fromMichael Cimino’s obviously racist Year of the Dragon (1985)which has been deconstructed by Renee E. Tajima (1989), tothe more subtly Eurocentric (mis)representations of theChinese to be found in Bertolucci’s The Last Enmeror (1987).As Rey Chow observes, Bertolucci’s attempt to “over—invest”the movie with “exotic architecture” and an “abundance ofart objects” endowed the film with a “museum quality” andturned the cinema audience into “vicarious tourists in front313of whom ‘China’ is served on the screen” (Chow, 1991, p.11). 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