1st Edition

Poetics and Politics of Shame in Postcolonial Literature

Edited By David Attwell, Annalisa Pes, Susanna Zinato Copyright 2019
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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



    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.).