Clarissa Dalloway’s sexuality, in the fictional novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, is ambiguous. Clarissa kisses her female friend Sally Seton, and describes it as “the most exquisite moment of her whole life” (Woolf 1925:33). This event in the novel causes intrigue for postmodernist queer theorists, who analyse the possibilities of an abrosexual or bisexual Clarissa in a heteronormative world. One particular postmodernist writer, named Michael Cunningham, decided to write a novel which creatively explores the themes of gender and sexuality, which are hinted at, or rather suppressed, in 'Mrs. Dalloway'. Cunningham’s book, 'The Hours', boldly plots the lives of a few queer characters, whose sexual orientations shift, blend, and change with time.
Gender oppression and survival strategies in ‘Woman at Point Zero’ by Nawal El Saadawi
'Woman at Point Zero' is an Arabian novel written by psychiatrist and feminist, Nawal El Saadawi. In her novel, she interviews a woman who is jailed for the murder of a man, that man being her pimp. Firdaus, the protagonist, is a prostitute, and the novel tells the story of how she came to be a sex worker and murderer. Saadawi documents her interviews with Firdaus before Firdaus is executed. Firdaus’s story reveals the dark side of being a woman in patriarchal Egypt.
Integration barriers facing African immigrants: Othering and reduction in ‘We Need New Names’ by NoViolet Bulawayo
Cultural exchange while living in a foreign country can be difficult for an immigrant if the local community is not well informed or open-minded about foreign places and people. This can leave an immigrant feeling alienated in their new country of residence. In the novel 'We Need New Names' by NoViolet Bulawayo, we see an apt portrayal of othering taking place when the protagonist, Darling, relocates to the United States of America (USA) from an unnamed African country, which we can assume is Zimbabwe.
Debating African spirituality in ‘The Prophetess’ by Njabulo Ndebele
Africa is a continent with many belief systems. There are influences from foreign religions which entered through colonisation. There are also varying beliefs amongst the different nations and indigenous tribes of Africa. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find hybrid belief systems with a mixture of different, and even contradictory, beliefs. This essay will discuss the way in which African belief systems can both benefit and harm African societies. I will use the short story 'The Prophetess' by Njabulo Ndebele as a backdrop for this discussion.
Patriarchy and gender roles in South African praise poetry
Praise poetry is a unique form of oral literature in Africa. It is practised across the continent in various countries as a means of storytelling, historical interpretation, entertainment, political discourse, and ceremonious adulation to kings, chiefs, warriors, and other important figures. Praise poetry is a semi-structured genre where there are loosely defined categories and functions which serve different purposes. Both male and female Africans are involved in the art, however the praise poets are predominantly male. Men and women have different roles in the way praises are performed and sung. An investigation into these roles leads us to question whether there is equality between genders in this industry of performance poetry in Africa.
The role of Romantic poetry in modernity: From political foe to influential co-creator
Romantic poets inclined towards writing poetry that used the theme of nature, metaphorically. They also included elements of imagination, mysticism, and mythology to represent their thoughts and ideas. Generally, their works are viewed as a reaction to modernity, the period in which they published their poems. For the focus of this essay, I will particularly analyse Lord Byron’s second canto from this his epic poem, 'Don Juan'. In doing so, I will highlight the themes and natural elements in Lord Byron’s poetry, which reveal that he had a longing for the old way of life in England, prior to modernism and modernization.
Pre-colonial African civilization in ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe
There are common, misguided beliefs globally held about Africa and Africans. These beliefs perpetuate the stereotype that Africa is a primitive continent without civilization. Western writers such as Joseph Conrad and Joyce Cary have aided in creating such stereotypes through their literature. In response, African writers such as Chinua Achebe, set out to write literature which dispelled these stereotypes, by revealing the cultural beliefs and practices of Africans prior to Western colonisation.
Proto-colonial othering in ‘The Travels of Sir John Mandeville’ and ‘The Tempest’
The notion of ‘the self and the other’ leads to many questions about the construction of identity, and the differences amongst individuals, cultures, and nations. When this concept is applied to colonialism, it creates a lens to understand the possible motivations behind colonisation.