In my commitment to increase awareness of issues of world literature and postcolonial and gender theory, I will be posting a weekly digest of interesting reads in hopes of starting more conversations about topics dear to all of our hearts.
Recently NPR’s “Goats and Soda” ran a piece that touched on a question I constantly face in and out of the classroom: “If You Shouldn’t Call It The Third World, What Should You Call It?” In it, they give a succinct outline of the problems with the terms “First” and “Third World” along with suggestions of other terminology. I have tried most of them at some point, but most people don’t know what I am talking about when I mention the Global South. In the classroom, I explain the problems with the concepts, but usually I am teaching an Intro class, and frankly, Third and First World are terms that have currency (maybe because of the terrible trend to call things “First World Problems”–perhaps a future blog post).
The NYT reported the story of Kamel Daoud who is resisting a fatwa called against him for his novel Meursault, Counter-Investigation, a book I am now dying to read. I love any book that gives voice to a voiceless character, in this case Camus’s The Stranger from an Algerian perspective (if I had novel-writing chops, I would write a book from the point of view of the woman on the bank in Heart of Darkness). Le Monde published an extensive interview with him in which the novelist says he wants to go on as before.
The January issue of World Literature Today is filled with good reads. If you aren’t a subscriber (and I suggest you are, as their content is fantastic in its scope and no magazine does what this one does), you can access feminist novelist Elif Shafak’s essay on social media in Turkey “Storytelling, Fake Worlds, and the Internet” free here.
Finally, two videos delighted me. The NYT ran a brilliant op-doc “An African’s Message to America.” I do bristle when a continent is used as a parallel to a nation (it isn’t called “An African’s Message to North America”). However, I love the message. And once again the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah did the work in a five-minute skit that I try to do during an entire semester: help us all see how we do discount an entire continent in service to our own “Western” or “First World” or whatever-we-should-call-ourselves ideals. Here’s some humor for your week:
(I just spent entirely too long trying to figure out how to get this video to embed, so here’s the link.)