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The article is devoted to the analysis of the historiographical background of the category of the so-called oriental cults/oriental religions created in the 19th century and developed by Franz Cumont. We discuss the role of this term in 20th-century historiography with the focus on the works of Tadeusz Zieliński that are important to the reception of the oriental cults metaphor. We argue that the concept of oriental cults/oriental religions in its original version is not an effective or useful research tool. However, as a historiographical concept it has fulfilled its role in a threefold way: firstly, it drew scholars’ attention to the vitality of ancient religious experience, secondly, it established the fact that Roman religion was a living organism, naturally adapted to changing political, social and cultural conditions, thirdly, it helped to understand the principles behind the construction of metaphors in the academic discourse.

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The events of September 11th have had a deep impact on theoretical discourses. A reality marked by conflicts challenges the widely debated postcolonial theories which for a long time have described cultural contact in conciliatory, consensual terms as “hybridity” or “Third Space”. In the wake of this paradigm shift there has been a renaissance of antagonistically organized concepts such as Huntington’s “clash of civilization”, long considered obsolete. The rhetorical patterns of Franz Fanon, a forgotten founder of postcolonial studies, have also experienced a revival in the daily press since 9/11. In this sense the terrorist attacks are seen as the answer of the “wretched of the earth” to globalization. The recourse to Fanon’s metaphors highlights how far the canonized postcolonial theories of Said, Bhabha and Spivak are removed from their subject and how, due to their “fashionable” status, they have gained a problematic momentum. It also implicitly questions the purpose of theories in general.

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This article interrogates the application of postcolonial theory to U.S.-American history and culture and argues that such an application helps us to rethink postcolonialism’s relationship to the concept of the nation-state. While current postcolonial theory has become disillusioned with models of the postcolonial nation, which frequently seem to mirror imperialist structures, American Studies’ application of postcolonial theory to American cultures of imperialism is arguing for a rethinking of the relationship between post-colonialism and nation. On the territory which emerged as the contested space of the U.S.-American nation, we encounter various competing imagined communities during all historical phases, making impossible the clear temporal or spatial demarcation of coloniality from post-coloniality. U.S.-American history thus necessitates a rethinking of nationhood not only as a spatially, but also as a temporally flexible concept. To provide an example, I draw on John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry which contributed to the tensions that led the nation into the Civil War.

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Since the end of the 1980s, when the term “postcolonial” first landed mainland China, postcolonialism or postcolonial theory has been vigorously traveling in China for nearly twenty years. From 1995 to 1999, postcolonial criticism prospered and aroused several consequential issues such as the problem of “aphasia” of Chinese literary theories and its reconstruction, “Postism” and its conservatism, cultural self-colonization phenomena, “the third world culture,” nationalism and the so-called “Chineseness” and so on. The articles and books published during the period witness the highest achievement of postcolonial criticism in China. But the hasty traveling of postcolonialism in China has elicited or exposed many serious problems in the circles of literary criticism and literary theories. Unhealthy academic ecology in China combined with the misappropriation of the Western source texts, provoking heated debates over nationalism, “Chineseness,” “aphasia” and intellectual responsibility. Through analyzing these complicated issues, the author intends to present his own understanding of the traveling and metamorphosis of postcolonial theories in the Chinese context, and to offer his critical reflections on the problem of how to borrow theories from abroad.

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Robinson, D. 1997. Translation and Empire. Postcolonial Theories Explained. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing. Translation and Empire. Postcolonial Theories Explained

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Beyond their possible dissensions concerning the nature and function of Literature through the world, Postcolonial Criticism and Francophone Literatures Studies share a common indifference toward African-Language Literature. The following article is an attempt to explore three occulted dimensions of African Literature considered as local, popular and didactic. These three dimensions, which form a kind of “blind perspective” for the European Languages critical approaches, are seen as obstacles set by African Languages on the way of what Literature should be: global, sophisticated and subversive. To take in account the growing development of African-Languages Literature is an opportunity for a new evaluation of our conceptions of literature. Because African-Languages Literatures are out of scope of global postcolonial theories, they force the reader to revise his own (mis)conceptions on Literature (which is never, as wrote Raymond Queneau about art, where it is expected to be).

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Deaths and resurrections of the subject. Comparative Literature studies have for some time now been engaged in a new phase in which the internationality of the subject matter is no longer at stake. In the global village literatures develop both transnationally and intranationally as parts of wider cultural patterns. Thus to reflect upon literature is increasingly a philosophical matter involving battles of Weltanschauungen. The problematic of the subject is a case in point. Subjectivity as embodiment of the individual human existent has come to be viewed negatively, particularly in the light of feminist and postcolonial theories, which question the universality of a subject built on objectifying the Other; thus the erstwhile object becomes in turn subject, and the equation is once again incomplete. We wish to examine a sampler of diverse, indeed scattered instances of a renewed interest in the problematic of the subject. For example, far from being dead, the Author reappears massively in biographical and autobiographical writings, and is tracked through genetic studies. The subject writes itself in interstices and margins, in discontinuity, elusiveness and uncertainty, as process rather than essence; but we hypothesize that this is in many literary and cultural contexts the very mode of its rehistoricization.

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The discipline of “Postcolonial studies” has emerged predominantly within English literature departments over the past two decades. This article aims at scrutinizing the relevance of postcolonial theory and criticism to francophone literature. The beginning of the paper is devoted to the exploration of the historical perspectives necessary for an understanding of current postcolonial issues, outlining a complex situation and some clear distinctions between English and French modes of colonization. Then it explores the role of languages in postcolonial debates, mainly the rivalry between English-speaking countries and Francophonie, between French and American theory, which brings about a fundamental diversity in the critical approaches of these literatures. Beyond theoretical quarrels and in spite of the asymmetrical positions of English-speaking and Francophone postcolonial literatures, we would argue that both are engaged in the same intellectual pursuits. The so-called “minor” literatures are just about to reach literary canonization. About half a century after the Independences, the obsolescence of the colonial reference should be taken into consideration even though nostalgia is a powerful driving force in literary creation. Nevertheless, postcolonial studies and francophone studies should keep their differences and homogenizing critical approaches could turn out to be noxious.

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Heterology, or discourse on the Other, encompasses a number of theories dealing with unequal power positions in real life as well as in literature. While feminist theory has made us aware of male authors creating women characters as the Other, and while postcolonial theory reveals alterity in the images of ethnicity, a heterological approach to juvenile literature examines the power balance between the adult author and the implied young audience. This balance is most tangibly manifested in the relationship between the ostensibly adult narrative voice and the child focalizing character and its perception of the fictive world. In other words, the way the adult narrator narrates the child reveals the degree of alterity — yet degree only, since alterity is by definition inevitable in writing for children. Indeed, nowhere else are the power structures as visible as in children’s literature, the refined instrument that has been for centuries used to educate, socialize and oppress a particular social group. In this respect, children’s literature is a unique art and communication form, deliberately created by those in power for the powerless. However, there are other factors besides age-related cognitive discrepancy in childrenh’s literature, which may both enhance and diminish the effect of power imbalance. The present article will look into strategies of alterity in classical and contemporary texts for young readers and consider the synergy of their impact on our perception. Among such strategies, there is the use of specific genres (fantasy, adventure, dystopia), settings (Robinsonnade, Orientalism), and characters (superheroes, anti-heroes, animals, monsters), as well as narrative devices such as voice, focalization and subjectivity. The concepts of norm and normativity are central to heterological studies, and in the case of children’s literature, the focus lies on adult normativity. Contemporary children’s literature has cautiously started subverting its own oppressive function, as it can describe situations in which the established power structures are interrogated. Queer theory and carnival theory prove especially helpful in investigating these issues.

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. Robinson, D. 1997. Translation and Empire. Postcolonial Theories Explained. Manchester: St. Jerome. Translation and Empire. Postcolonial Theories Explained.

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