Florian Sedlmeier

• Seit April 2006 Stipendiat am Graduiertenkolleg
• Februar/März 2006 sechswöchiges Bibliotheksstipendium am John-F.-Kennedy-Institut der FU Berlin
• Juli 2005 M.A. an der LMU München

Towards an Ethnic Literary Anthropology: Transposition and Literary Ethnicity in the American Novel

Dissertation Abstract
My dissertation project seeks to investigate ethnic and postcolonial literatures in order to delineate the conditions for a literary anthropology. The contemporary texts under scrutiny self-reflexively stage representations of ethnicity and simultaneously negotiate their own boundaries and transgressions as representative ethnic/postcolonial texts. Criticism commonly situates these literatures within a tension of politics and form/aesthetics, with a general tendency to put emphasis on the former. Although there is clearly no escape from the political realm since the struggles for recognition and around representation are still going on and strategic essentialist positions are, under certain conditions, valid und necessary, I want to shift the emphasis to formal aspects in order to show that the texts interrogate basic premises of political argumentation that build upon essentialist notions. It seems to me that through such a focus on form and narrative strategy we can regain a more differentiated discussion of ethnic and postcolonial literatures in general.         

My methodological chapter will encompass a discourse analysis that situates the problem of the ethnic, in the sense of otherness and alterity, as evolving out of a complex interplay between ascription and self-definition. In contrast to oppositional models like Abdul JanMohamed’s (1983) Manichean aesthetics, concepts like W.E.B. DuBois’s double-consciousness or Frantz Fanon’s colonial dynamics, especially in re-readings by Paul Gilroy (1993), Homi K. Bhabha (1994) and Diana Fuss (1995), account for a heterogeneous formation of ethnic and colonial experience which poses the question if the subaltern can speak or not that, in turn, is actually the question if ‘we’ are willing to hear the subaltern voices and engage with them (see Gayatri C. Spivak 1986, Homi K. Bhabha 1994 and Benita Parry 1987 for an oppositional reading of the two). While this shift in discourse has certainly resituated the power relations as a more complex negotiation, the multicultural paradigm that Bhabha attacks so convincingly is still prominent in popular discourse and academic institutionalization. It is also through an investigation of academic mechanisms that I formulate my critique and reassessment of the treatment of ethnic literatures.


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Vorträge, Veröffentlichungen, Lehre
Lectures, Publications, Teaching


„‘A Revision of Venice?’: William Dean Howells’ Venetian Life and the Dynamics of Seeing, Knowing and Representing”

[DGfA-Jahrestagung in Göttingen, 10-06-2006]