Getting to know you Could you explain WHY you chose the course? Your life growing up, your family, cultural background. Your experiences of school and learning generally: your attitudes towards reading, writing and discussion. Favourite teachers/authors/music/films etc and why Hobbies, interests etc. Anything else you think is relevant…
Key questions to discuss What is a “nation” in your view? Why do they exist? What is a “state” in your view? Is a “state” different from a “nation”? What is a “nation state”? Why have we “invented” nations, and why do writers write about them?
A state A state is an organized political community living under a government. States may be sovereign. The denomination state is also employed to federated states that are members of a federal union, which is the sovereign state.
A Nation A large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.
Definitions? The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The concept and actuality of the nation state can be compared and contrasted with that of the multinational state, city state, empire, confederation, and other state forms with which it may overlap. The key distinction from the other forms is the identification of a people with a polity.
The United KingdomThe United Kingdom is a controversial example of a nation state, due to its "countries within a country" status. The UK is a unitary state formed initially by the merger of two independent kingdoms, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, but the Treaty of Union (1707) that set out the agreed terms has ensured the continuation of distinct features of each state, including separate legal systems and separate national churches.
Why examine “England”? The England contains the “heart of government”. The English were the main proponents of colonialism. They “marketed” their “national identity” throughout the world as a model; this was used to stop other “nations” or peoples from becoming “states” in their own right.
What does literature tellus? Often embodies “hegemonic” values; the dominant ideologies of a time often are promoted within popular pieces of literature. Used as a tool for colonialism, for subjugating peoples, nations… Used to subvert hegemonic values; to counter-act dominant ideologies.
Why study literature? Literature can offer different perspectives; it can explore issues connected with national identity through the lens of the “little person”, the marginalised, the ignored, the “subaltern”. It can “voice” to the dispossessed. It is particularly fruitful looking at the “difficult” cases; the ones that defy categorisation.
Why Study The Caribbean? English-speaking Issues connected national identity come up again and again. Rich and emerging literature. The poetry is particularly diverse and fascinating, using dialect. Like England, Jamaica is NOT a nation state, but still part of the British Commonwealth with the Queen as the Head of State. It has its own government which is democratically elected.
Small Island Small Island – looking at the contrasting ways in which Caribbean and English identities changed after the war. Very popular. Author is British, with Jamaican parents.
The Dragon Can’t Dance The subaltern rebels? Experimental. Written by a Jamaican.
Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys. A feminist fable? A colonialist or post-colonialist text? A protest novel? Reader-response? Dominated by an exploration of the “subaltern”.
The Kite Runner Very contemporary. Afghanistan: a failed state, part of an empire?? Explores issues connected with the subaltern.
Pigeon English Very recent novel. The child as the “subaltern”. English and African identities.