Performative metaphors in Caribbean and ethnic Canadian writing

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dc.contributor.author Härting, Heike Helene
dc.date.accessioned 2018-02-19T19:15:26Z
dc.date.available 2018-02-19T19:15:26Z
dc.date.copyright 2000 en_US
dc.date.issued 2018-02-19
dc.identifier.uri https://dspace.library.uvic.ca//handle/1828/9078
dc.description.abstract Postcolonial theorists tend to read metaphor generally as a trope of power that synthesizes its inherently binary structure of tenor and vehicle to produce totalizing meanings. Although some critics have emphasized the importance of metaphor in postcolonial and Canadian studies, theorists like Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak tend to approach metaphor either in exclusively structuralist or in predominantly deconstructivist terms. In contrast to these approaches, this study examines how texts from different postcolonial traditions of writing reconfigure metaphor for political and cultural reasons. It reads metaphor as a trope of cultural crisis that produces contiguous histories and crosscultural identities that contest clearly defined national boundaries. While it is impossible to resist metaphor's self-deconstructive tendencies, this project shows that we can resist and rearticulate its oppressive effects by conceptualizing metaphor's operative modes in performative and postcolonial terms. Performative metaphors generate, while keeping in suspense, the social and psychological constraints that impact on the construction of identity. The cultural significance of performative metaphors lies in their potential to replace the metaphoric binary structure of vehicle and tenor with metaphor's ability to reiterate and destabilize dominant discourses of race, gender, and nationalism. In the context of ethnic Canadian and Caribbean writing, performative metaphors foreground questions of naming, memory, and cultural translation; they also challenge those rhetorical and literary forms through which cultural and national identities are imagined and represented in “authentic” and “original” terms. A performative understanding of metaphor, as developed in this dissertation, articulates an ethical imperative that, first, accounts for the physical and representational violence enacted on the subaltern body and, second, acknowledges the ways in which subaltern subjects produce cultural knowledge with a difference. Methodologically, this study combines feminist theories of performativity with postcolonial theory, Caribbean and Canadian literary criticism. It discusses Judith Butter's theory of performativity in the context of ethnic Canadian historiographical writing, Caribbean performance and epic poetry. A critical examination of texts by Derek Walcott, David Dabydeen, Austin Clarke, M. G. Vassanji, and Sky Lee demonstrates that metaphor is one of the most important tools for a postcolonial critique of identity and nation formation. en_US
dc.language English eng
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights Available to the World Wide Web en_US
dc.subject Caribbean literature en_US
dc.subject Canadian literature (English) en_US
dc.title Performative metaphors in Caribbean and ethnic Canadian writing en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.supervisor Kamboureli, Smaro
dc.degree.department Department of English en_US
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Graduate en_US

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