post-colonial literature for children edu32plc

Lecture 1:
© La Trobe University, David Beagley 2006
David Beagley
• Tuesdays and Thursdays – Rm. 3.16c Education
• Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays – Information
Services, Heyward Library
• Children’s Literature web site at
Unit concept:
• 4th unit of Children’s Literature “course” and
presumes an understanding of literary analysis.
• Will be more “academic” than previous units,
demanding consideration of literature as a social
construct and commentary, not just a teaching or
recreation tool.
• Will involve historical, social, cultural, political
issues and judgements, as well as literary.
• 2 lectures, 1 tutorial per week
• Attendance and contribution to tutorials and
lectures (10%)
• Portfolio of 4 shorter pieces - 2 commentaries on
topics raised in lectures, and 2 studies of
extension texts (20%)
• Major essay (30%)
• Examination (40%)
• Listen, Consider, Make an Effort
Sources and resources:
• Unit Outline - Course notes, timetable with reading
lists, unit information.
• Readings on Reserve and E-reserve.
• Library Subject Guide for Children’s Literature at
• Children’s Literature web site at
• Your own research: in library, through databases,
and elsewhere (valid and authoritative)
Today’s relevant readings
• Bradford, C. (2001) The End of Empire? Colonial and
postcolonial journeys in children’s books. Children’s
Literature [online]. 29: 196 218. Available: Proquest
• Kohl, H. (1995) Should we burn Babar? Questioning
power in children’s literature. Should We Burn Babar?
Essays on children’s literature and the power of
stories. New York: The New Press.
• Said, E. (1994) Introduction. Culture and Imperialism.
New York: Vintage Books
• The Imperial Archive
2 word elements: Post- and Colonialism
• Colonialism : Imperialism, control/authority over
one culture/society by another. Implied
superiority of colonial power, and consequent
inferiority of colonised.
• Post- : after.
Thus, the literatures of the colonised, focussing
on the effects of that colonisation.
Post-colonialism - questions
 Who is a colonised people?
• Australian Aboriginals, Australian Europeans
• USA : Indians - Native Americans
 Is it only writing about colonial influence, or any
 Form and Voice:
 in own traditional literary forms?
 in styles of colonial power?
 by former colonisers in post-colonial forms?
Colony and Empire
Imperial centre
Indigenous and Native
Colonial Values
• Common pattern throughout recorded history –
Egypt, Persia, Rome, China etc.
• From 1500s, imperialistic European countries
‘claimed’ new world colonies in Africa, India, South
America, North America, Asia, and Australia for
various reasons:
cheap raw materials for ‘home’ industries;
trade advantages over rival European countries;
belief in the need to exert global influence against rivals.
missionary zeal/duty to bring civilization – c.f. Pax Romana,
Crusades, Cold War
The White Man’s Burden Civilization and the Exotic
• Rudyard Kipling - The White Man’s Burden
• Henry Newbolt - Vitae Lampada
The White Man’s Burden Civilization and the Exotic
Explorer/Native, Ruler/Ruled distinctions
 Each is defined by the other; e.g.:
– For the explorer to discover, the discovery must be
unknown by civilization
– For the “Ruler” to be superior, the “Ruled” must be
 For this relationship to be ongoing, it must be
– Civilization, improvement
– Morality, religion
– Duty, role
Physical environment
The physical environment was seen as:
• ‘unowned’ and ‘uninhabited’ – terra nullius
• rich in natural resources (including humans for the
slave trade) but dangerous because of local fauna and
• places for ‘exploration’ and heroic adventure
• as both exotic, tropical paradise and as over-heated,
disease-ridden exile from ‘home’
• not a suitable place for females from ‘home’ to live
Indigenous peoples
The indigenous peoples were seen as:
childlike primitives in need of education, western
civilisation and religion
dangerous sub-human heathens who needed to be
eradicated – standing in the way of civilization
having inferior, primitive customs, eating habits,
clothing, housing, social values, and primitive
superstitions and beliefs
arrested evolutionary and cultural development
not having the rights of western people, and
therefore appropriate to treat as slaves and
trophies to be brought ‘home’ to Europe and North
The duty of the colonizers
Colonisers in these colonies were expected
• provide a model of behaviour for the indigenous people,
yet …
• remain separate from ‘locals’
• maintain the standards of ‘home’
So, where does Literature come
into all this?
Literature is an indicator of what matters, and
what has happened, in a society
 Colonial literature presents the colonial ethos
 Post-colonial represents how the world has changed
Literature can be an agent for change
 Can rewrite the colonial history to highlight what was
 Can seek to achieve de-colonization by
– re-establishing identity and pride
– subverting the colonial themes, genres, values or language
 Can reshape current attitudes by recognition of the past