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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: Memory and myth : postcolonial religion in contemporary Guyanese fiction and poetry
Author(s): Darroch, Fiona Jane
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: In this thesis I investigate and problematize the historical location of the term 'religion' and examine how this location has affected the analytical reading of postcolonial fiction and poetry. The term 'religion' has been developed in response to a Western Enlightenment and Christian history and its adoption outside of this context should therefore be treated with caution. Within postcolonial literary criticism, there has been either a silencing of the category as a result of this caution or an uncritical and essentialising adoption of the term 'religion'. I argue that a vital aspect of how writers articulate their histories of colonial contact, migration, slavery and the re-forging of identities in the wake of these histories is illuminated by the classificatory term 'religion'. I demonstrate this through the close reading of Guyanese fiction and poetry, as critical themes are seen and discussed that would be otherwise ignored. Aspects of postcolonial theory and Religious Studies theory are combined to provide a new insight into the literature and therefore expand the field of postcolonial literary criticism. The way in which writers 'remember' history through writing is central to the way in which I theorize and articulate 'religion' throughout the thesis; the act of remembrance is persuasively interpreted in terms of 'religion'. The title 'Memory and Myth' therefore refers to both the syncretic mythology of Guyana, and the key themes in a new critical understanding of 'religion'. Chapter One establishes the theoretical framework to be adopted throughout the thesis by engaging with key developments made in the past decade by Religious Studies theorists. Through this dialogue, I establish a working definition of the category religion whilst being aware of its limitations, particularly within a discussion of postcolonial literature. I challenge the reluctance often shown by postcolonial theorists in their adoption of the term `religion' and offer an explanation for this reluctance. Chapter Two attends to the problems involved in carrying out interdisciplinary research, whilst demonstrating the necessity for such an enquiry. Chapters Three, Four and Five focus on selected Guyanese writers and poets and demonstrate the illuminating effect of a critical reading of the term 'religion' for the analysis of postcolonial fiction and poetry. Chapter Three provides a close reading of Wilson Harris's novel Jonestown alongside theoretical and historical material on the actual Jonestown tragedy. Chapter Four examines the mesmerising effect of the Anancy tales on contemporary writers, particularly poet John Agard. And Chapter Five engages with the work of Indo-Guyanese writer, David Dabydeen and his elusive character Manu.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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