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Comparative Postcolonialisms: Storytelling and Community in Sholem Aleichem and Chinua Achebe

Comparative Postcolonialisms: Storytelling and Community in Sholem Aleichem and Chinua Achebe
170 St. George Street, JHB Room 100
Time: Mar 7th, 4:00 pm End: Mar 7th, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), Jewish Studies, English and Drama (UTM), English (UTSC), English (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, 2000-
Lecture by Ato Quayson, University of Toronto

The Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies presents

Israel and Sala Disenhouse Memorial Lecture Fund

Comparative Postcolonialisms: Storytelling and Community in Sholem Aleichem and Chinua Achebe

Sholem Aleichem and Chinua Achebe's fundamental commitment to modes of storytelling allows us to draw parallels and counterpoints between them. In both works storytelling is shaped by the essential polysemy of orality (such as the collocation of proverbs, gnomic statements, and anecdotes as crucial aspects of the stories being told), as well as an orientation toward ritual (in terms of the formal repetition of storytelling motifs and devices). In the Tevye stories the first-person narration is addressed to various explicit and implied addressees and gives the impression of an immediate orality, while in Arrow of God the third-person narrator is co-extensive with the one we encounter in Things Fall Apart in its quasi-ethnographic orientation. In both texts storytelling and orality are mediums for identifying with an imagined community. The objective of this talk is to compare the two authors as a way of evaluating the current state of studies of world literature, which as a general rule have not brought the Yiddish tradition in dialogue with other minor literatures.

Ato Quayson is Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto, where he has been since August 2005. He did his BA at the University of Ghana and took his PhD from Cambridge University in 1995. He then went on to the University of Oxford as a Research Fellow, returning to Cambridge in Sept 1995 to become a Fellow at Pembroke College and a member of the Faculty of English where he eventually became a Reader in Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies. Prof Quayson has published widely on African literature, postcolonial studies and in literary theory.


This event is free and open to the public. No registration required. For further information, please contact the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at 416 978-1624.

Supported with the help of the Millie Goodman Endowment Fund for Yiddish


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