Poetics and Politics of Shame in Postcolonial Literature: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Poetics and Politics of Shame in Postcolonial Literature

1st Edition

Edited by David Attwell, Annalisa Pes, Susanna Zinato


232 pages

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pub: 2019-05-14
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Poetics and Politics of Shame in Postcolonial Literature provides a new and wide-ranging appraisal of shame in colonial and postcolonial literature in English. Bringing together young and established voices in postcolonial studies, these essays tackle shame and racism, shame and agency, shame and ethical recognition, the problem of shamelessness, the shame of willed forgetfulness.  Linked by a common thread of reflections on shame and literary writing, the essays consider specifically whether the aesthetic and ethical capacities of literature enable a measure of stability or recuperation in the presence of shame’s destructive potential. The obscenity of the in-human, both in the colonial setting and in aftermaths that show little sign of abating, entails the acute significance of shame as a subject for continuing and urgent critical attention. 

Table of Contents

List of contributors


Introduction: Shame, Literature and the Postcolonial

Chapter one - Writing in, of and around Shame: J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K

David Attwell

Chapter two - Cursing the Fathers’ Curse: A Tragic Reading of White Shame in J.M. Coetzee’s In The Heart of the Country and Age of Iron

Susanna Zinato

Chapter three - Dictator Games: On Shame, Shitholes, and Beautiful Things

Rita Barnard

Chapter four - "Unfinished Business": Digging up the past in Christine Piper’s After Darkness and Cory Taylor’s My Beautiful Enemy

Sue Kossew

Chapter five - Different Shades of Shame. The Responsibilities and Legacies of a Shameful History in Australian Fiction

Annalisa Pes

Chapter six - Contemporary Australian Refugee Policies and Shame as Reflected in A. S. Patric’s Black Rock, White City (2015)

Dolores Herrero

Chapter seven - American Postcolonial Shame, Fiction and Timothy Bewes

David Callahan

Chapter eight - "Like solemn Afro-Greeks avid for grades": Individual and Historical Shame in Walcott’s Earlier Poetry

Angelo Righetti

Chapter nine - Shame, Justice and the Representation of Violence in Postcolonial Literature: The Case of Caryl Phillips

Vincent van Bever Donker

Chapter ten - Afterword: "A Swarm of Locusts Passed By"

Timothy Bewes


About the Editors

David Attwell is Professor of English at the University of York in the UK and Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He co-edited and conducted the interviews for J.M. Coetzee’s Doubling the Point Essays and Interviews. His monographs include J.M. Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing; Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History; and most recently, J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing.

Annalisa Pes is Senior Lecturer of English at the University of Verona. Besides articles and book chapters, her publications include: Ex-centric Writing. Essays on Madness in Postcolonial Fiction (co-ed.), Sermoni, amori e misteri. Il racconto coloniale australiano al femminile, and Stories that Keep on Rising to the Surface. I racconti di Patrick White.

Susanna Zinato is Associate Professor of English at the University of Verona. Besides articles and book chapters, her publications include: The house is empty: Grammars of Madness in J. Frame’s Scented Gardens for the Blind and B. Head’s A Question of Power; Rehearsals of the Modern: Experience and Experiment in Restoration Drama (ed.); Ex-centric Writing: Essays on Madness in Postcolonial Fiction (co-ed.).

About the Series

Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures

Edited in collaboration with the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, University of Kent at Canterbury, Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures presents a wide range of research into postcolonial literatures by specialists in the field. Volumes concentrate on writers and writing originating in previously (or presently) colonized areas, and include material from non-anglophone as well as anglophone colonies and literatures.

Part of our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections, this series considers postcolonial literature alongside topics such as gender, race, ecology, religion, politics, and science. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics. Series editors: Donna Landry and Caroline Rooney

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Politics