Monday, February 8, 2010

Online Readings for Tomorrow's Class

Hey there,
Here's what I'd like you to look over for tomorrow's class. We will be discussing representations of Africans (blacks) in colonial-era literature for children; well, actually, you will be discussing this topic. How Africans are portrayed in colonial literature is a huge focus in postcolonial criticism, as you probably gleaned from Tyson, and as you will read in Chinua Achebe's criticism of "The Heart of Darkness." As you look at some of these children's stories, keep in mind those ideas from colonialist ideology that we discussed today (such as, blacks as primitive, savage "children" that need a hand from white Europeans to "grow up" and develop into civilized people and nations) and think about your discussions from last semester about images of women in advertising. What different ideas does this literature seem to present about Africans? For tomorrow's class, you will have to 1) complete the Subject / Predicate handout, 2) look over the different links concerning colonial images of Africans in children's books (below), and 3) come to class with at least five questions about the representations of Africans you looked at. Please make sure that these are open-ended questions with no simple yes-no answers. Ideally, you want to write questions that will generate a lot of response in a discussion. We will use these questions tomorrow to drive our discussion activity, so please come prepared. Extra credit for those who post other cool links on the topic of "Colonialism in Children's Literature".
  • Read "The Story of Babar" online (This website shows pages from de Brunhoff's original manuscript in French. There are arrows to move from page to page. The text is in French and is handwritten. However, just click on "read this page" and a translation will appear along with the French text. You can also click on "see the published text" and you will be able to view the final version of the pictures along with French and English text. This link wasn't working this morning, so stay tuned--I will scan my copy of "The Story of Babar" and upload it to Google Docs.)
  • Adam Gopnik's New Yorker article questioning the common postcolonial reading of Babar.
This image comes from "The Travels of Babar." Babar and Celeste are attacked by a group of "cannibals".
The actual word used in the French is not "cannibals" but "les sauvages" (the "savages"...a term that was wildly used to describe tribal Africans during colonial times)
Gregory R. Askew
Language Arts Instructor
Vermont Commons School

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