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Identity and History


Q2 -- History what. examples -- 'Time in a Bottle' examples -- 'The Dream Before' ... 'History is a pile of debris. And the angel wants to go back and fix things ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Identity and History

Identity and History
  • Literary Criticism
  • Identity, Trauma and Globalization
  • Introduction
  • Fall 2004
  • Kate Liu

  • Identity and History
  • Q1 -- What is Identity?
  • Q2 -- History what
  • examples -- Time in a Bottle
  • examples -- The Dream Before
  • Q3 -- History -- why and how?
  • examples
  • Two Villages
  • Somewhere in Time
  • About our Course

Q 1 Identity
  • What is Identity?
  • Does it matter to you? If so, how do you define
    your identity (or identities)?

Identity Who am I?
Body, Desire, Work, Experience, Memory/Trauma
Identity Who am I?
  • To talk about our identity, we try to answer the
    question, "Who am I?"
  • We have different kinds of collective identity
  • national identity, social identity,
    cultural/racial identity, class identity,
    familial identity, gender identity, sexual
    identity, etc. 
  • All these identities are formed beyond our
    control (at least partly).   (This explains why
    some contemporary theories say that we have
    multiple identity and that our identity is

Identity Who am I? (2)
  • Out of all of these inter-related kinds of
    collective identity we form our personal (sense
    of) identity.   "Usually" we do not loudly
    pronounce (articulte and/or defend) a certain
    kind of identity unless it is strongly related to
    our beliefs or unless it is threatened.
  • However, constructions of our identities and our
    personal senses of them, consciously or not, are
    written on our bodies and embodied in our actions
    in daily life, which, in turn, become
    historical traces written on our bodies.

Q 2 History what
  • What is history? What do you think about the
    following statements
  • Shes history.
  • The past is passé, gone forever.
  • We should put the past behind us and move
  • History is progressive. History repeats itself.

  • . . . to the elderly all the past is not a
    diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow
    which no winter ever quite touches. divided from
    them now by the narrow bottleneck of the most
    recent decade of years (A Rose for Emily)

A 2 History what
  • Kinds -- Official history and personal histories
    (biography, memoir, anecdote, diary, etc.) grand
    narrative, small narrative
  • Negative views of history --
  • Shes history.
  • The past is passé, gone forever.
  • We should put the past behind us and move
  • History repeats itself. ?? progressive
  • Traditional view linear view history as a
    route we take in life.

A 2 History what (2)
  • Personal sense of history
  • . . . to the elderly all the past is not a
    diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow
    which no winter ever quite touches. divided from
    them now by the narrow bottleneck of the most
    recent decade of years (A Rose for Emily)

Example 1 Time in a Bottle
  • The song
  • Please do a close analysis of the song, both the
    lyrics and the music. What does it say and how
    does it say it? Are there contradictions and
    tensions in this song?
  • How is it similar to or different from the quote
    from A Rose for Emily?

Jim Croce, Died September 20, 1973
Does it matter who writes the song?
Example 2 The Dream Before
  • The song the last part
  • History is a pile of debris And the angel wants
    to go back and fix things  To repair the things
    that have been broken But there is a storm
    blowing from Paradise  And the storm keeps
    blowing the angel backwards into the future  And
    this storm, this storm  is called  Progress.

Laurie Anderson
Example 2 The Dream Before
  • How does the song deal with the fairy tale of
    Hansel and Gretel?
  • They live in a life not as heroic and adventurous
    as their life in the fairy tale.
  • Hansel
  • 1) attached to the witch (why?)
  • 2) Expresses Walter Benjamins view of history.

Paul Klee's "Angelus Novus"
Benjamin on Paul Klee's "Angelus Novus"
  • An angel looking as though he is about to move
    away from something he is fixedly contemplating.
    His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his
    wings are spread. This is how one pictures the
    angel of history. His face is turned toward the
    past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he
    sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling
    wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of
    his feet.

Benjamin on Paul Klee's "Angelus Novus"
  • The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead,
    and make whole what has been smashed. . . . But a
    storm is blowing from Paradise . . .
    irresistibly propels him into the future to which
    his back is turned, This storm is what we call
    progress. Walter Benjamin, Theses on the
    Philosophy of History

Q3 History why and how?
  • Why do we write and read histories? To record
    events only? What are the functions of history?

  • To serve their functions, how are histories

Example 1 -- ????????
  • ??????,???????????????,??????,?????????????????

Source http//
Example 1 Official/National History
  • Exact dates, numbers and facts
  • Only the names of VIPs His-story
  • General avoiding and/or erasing details
  • Suggesting progress

Example 2 My Grandmother Ironed the King's
  • 1999 Torill Kove
  • How is this animation different from an official
    story of Norway? Pay attention, again, to its
    form and content.

Example 2 My Grandmother Ironed the King's
  • Content
  • Characterization the grandmother a royalist and
    a professional shirt-presser
  • history She no longer approved.
  • Form
  • child-like drawing
  • digressions ? ice-skating dancer, the ending.
  • language unemployed royals.

For your reference
  • ?????????(Oslo)
  • 1905, separated from The Bernadottes the union
    between Sweden and Norway to be a separate
  • On 18 November, 1905, the solemn election of
    Prince Carl as king of Norway took place in the
    Storting, taking the name of Haakon the seventh.
  • The Royan family of Norway http//www.kongehuset.

For your reference (2)
  • When the Norwegian forces in Northern Norway
    capitulated after two months of fighting in June
    1940, the king, prime minister and government
    evacuated to Great Britain. Throughout the war
    years, Norway retained a operating government in
    exile. And as the years passed by, the number of
    Norwegian refugees abroad grew to some 80.000.
  • (source http//
    rartxt.htm )

Example 3 Two Villages
  • What is the use of numbers here?
  • How are the two passages with numbers in contrast
    with the other two about Mr. Tat and Mr. Tuong.

For your reference Historythe use of hard facts
and photos e.g. Paul Hardcastle '19
  • In a newscasters voice "In world war two the
    average age of the combat soldier was twenty six.
    In Vietnam he was nineteen. I-I-I-I-In Vietnam he
    was nineteen. N-n-n-n-nineteen."

For your reference Vietnam War
  • History the country divided in 1954 the U.S.s
    involvement since around 1955 support forces
    arriving since 1961, intense bombing since 1965,
    withdrawal since 1969, and the total withdrawal
    in 1973, a few months after a ceasefire was
    signed in Jan. The fall of Saigon in May 1975.

For your reference Vietnam War
  • Atrocities
  • A. American side
  • 58,148 dead, 270,000 injured
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Agent Orange
  • Vietnamese side
  • dead (from both sides) more than 4,000,000
    civilians and soldiers10 of the entire
  • displaced 9,000 out of 15,000 villages
  • destroyed farmland, forest, farm animals all
    six of the industrial cities in the North
  • affected 200,000 prostitutes, 879,000 orphans,
    181,000 disabled people, 1 million widows

Example 4 Time Travel e.g. Somewhere in Time
  • Plot
  • Chicago playwright Richard Collier goes back in
    time 60 years to find the love (Elise McKenna)
    hes been missing all his life. Richard --
  • 1978 ? 1912
  • Location Mackinac Island, Michigan, the Grand

Example 2 Time Travel e.g. Somewhere in Time
  • Method of Time Travel (clip 4)
  • Sources Jack Finney, a science fiction writer

  • -- location a hotel
  • -- erase the traces of the present
  • -- hypnotize ones mind
  • how Richard does it (clip 5)

Example 2 Time Travel e.g. Somewhere in Time
  • Who determines their destiny?
  • A gold watch, the photo as mementos? destiny?
  • Richards crisis in life?
  • The producer (clip 8)
  • What is eternal love?

Example 2 Somewhere in Time (1980) -- a
  • Time travel -- Can we really travel in time?
  • time travel can get us into 1) a never-ending
  • 2) multiple time line.
  • 2. Isnt realistic novel or historical tales
    like this?

Example 2 Somewhere in Time (1980) -- a
reinterpretation (2)
  • 3. History and fixation in history --
  • Other possibilities
  • -- There could be two Richards
  • -- It could all be Richards fantasy, made with
    the gold watch and the photo. (It could be
    another woman that gave Richard the watch.)
  • In the end, its either Richard or Elise, or
    both, who is fixated by their memory or
    immobilized by their traumatic experience, and
    thus seeks to perpetuate it (in life and in

A 2 History why and how?
  • Purposes
  • a memento to keep (and past to
    immortalize), and to be fixated by, ? Somewhere
    in Time
  • -- sense-making, legitimating ?.grandmother

  • -- re-interpretation ? relating it to our
    present world and selves.
  • Cannot be re-presenting the past histories have
    to be fictions, or constructions.

Q 4 History and Identity
  • History and Identity How does History/histories
    shape our identities?
  • And how do we establish/construct our identities
    through telling stories?

About our Course
  • Identity ? History ? History and Literature
  • Identity and (History of) colonialism and racism

  • History as influenced by Postmodernism
  • Identity as influenced by Globalization and Trauma