December 3, 2012

Representation and Identification

Watching Up the Yangtze, I was struck by a particular problem I have had all this unit dealing with representation and identification. I often find that it is disrespectful to completely "whitewash" certain works of art by not putting the modifier of "black" in front of poet, which was one of the examples that we looked at in class. If we are to put these works up against the cultural criticism which we have spent a great deal of time defining in class, then we must look at the "black" poet through the lens of a cultural critic. Therefore, their race and their experience living as a minority in society should go into the way we look at their works of art. After all, no art exists in a vacuum and the situation in which they wrote it in must be taken into account.

I'd also like to try to connect Burke's Terministic Screens with this concept. The way in which we look at other people and ourselves will inevitably involve looking through a terministic screen that is created in the nexus between the rhetor and the author. Is this identification of other races as an "other"a completely inescapable phenomenon? I would say that it is because we are genetically predisposed to identify with people who look more like you. But it is the empathy for other races and the realization that we are all human that makes you not a racist.

1 comment:

Adam Schwartz said...

I 100% agree with your statement that empathy for other races and the realization that we are all human makes someone not a racist. I also agree with your statement that the sense of otherness, or alterity, is unavoidable when it comes to viewing someone or something from another location, walk of life, or culture. The extent to which we hold this towards these "others" is how one is judged as being a good person as well. We as people can not help but place a terministic screen on something we observe since this is the way we relate to the subject. We do not have to only observe art or literary works this way. This film does showcase otherness in many different way but it also showcases how everyone that lives by Yangtze, no matter what walk of life will be affected by the hegemony that the Chinese government placed on them.

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