Loose Translations: Postcolonial Literature and Shakespeare Open Access

Kumar, Rebecca (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/bg257f30t?locale=en


From Aimé Césaire's 1969 seminal Caribbean reworking of The Tempest, Une Tempête (1969), charged with the markedly homosocial politics of "Negritude", to more recent Bollywood film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, animated by campy song and dance routines, postcolonial authors have long engaged with gender crossing and non-normative sexuality as modes to critique the so-called colonial "Bard". These rewritings are what I call "loose translations" of Shakespeare - sexual implications of descriptor intended - because they foreground queer desire as a means to productively "loosen" "straight" and stable notions of national identity across different temporalities, histories, and geographies. And yet, literary critics have largely ignored the sexual dimension of these culturally hybrid works. My project highlights how this oversight is a trend in postcolonialism, rooted in a refusal of colonial pedagogies of Shakespeare that were used to construct differences between the sexually "civilized" West and those perverse and debauched "others". Ironically, in its effort to disavow what the West seemed to view as sexual deviancy, postcolonialism has actually reproduced colonially inflected erotophobias, rarely moving beyond heteronormative assumptions, even when queer desires, particularly the disciplining of them, remain integral to maintaining oppressive orders after Empire. My dissertation contends that any investigation into the ways in which world writers "write back" to Shakespeare must consider the representation of queerness in these translations - or it remains complicit in the continual subjection of bodies to colonial codes of sexual civility and dismisses contemporary modes of resistance against Eurocentric mores.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Loose Translations

Chapter 1: "Do you love me, master?": The Erotics and Politics of Servitude in Romesh Gunesekera's Reef

Chapter 2: "Rather say, I play the man I am": Role Play and Fantasy in Salman Rushdie's "Chekov and Zulu"

Chapter 3: "How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me": Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool and the Domestication of Lady Macbeth

Conclusion: "What is[h] my nation?": Queer Failure and the (Dis)location of Irish Identity in Frank McGuinness's Mutabilitie

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