33/1030: “Ethnocritique”

Today, I visited another class at the Uni to get an idea of other directions I could take my project, and realized I ended up looking at something that’s only a “thing” in France. When you look up “ethnocritique” in Google, all you get are French entries- and it’s because the term, meaning to use ethnographic tools to analyze literature, was only recently (1990) created in France. One looks at the anthropology of language, the cultural influence of artistic expression, and the ethnology of symbols.

However, that doesn’t mean I won’t have use for it. Bear with me, but here’s a French description from French Wikipedia: 

L’ethnocritique se situe dans l’héritage des travaux des « formalistes » qui ont pensé leurs recherches dans la relation à la culture (y compris dans sa dimension folklorique) –Jakobson, Propp, Greimas; des travaux sémio-linguistiques de Bakhtine; et des travaux des ethnologues du symbolique comme Yvonne Verdier, Daniel Fabre, Nicole Belmont, continuateurs de Lévi-Strauss, qui ont travaillé sur les sociétés européennes. C’est de là que la démarche tire son originalité dans le champ plus large des méthodes d’analyse littéraire recourant à l’anthropologie sociale ou culturelle.

It seems that all the things I’m looking at this semester ueberschneiden sich. The Formalists and Bakhtin appear in the Bakhtin and Route and Roots courses, and James Clifford was also in Routes and Routes. Somehow, whenever I learn something new, it appears everywhere.

I actually visited this course because I had a suspicion that the anthropological approach to literature applied to new English and German literatures because of the heavy influence of cultural awareness in these works and how they are studied.

In the US, there have been ethnocritical studies of Native American literature, and Jean Jamin looked at Faulkner as an anthropological writer. I think important to the idea of anthropological literature, and a way it connects to postcolonial literature, is through the process of writing back. One could look at Wide Sargasso Sea as an example.

I don’t know. I actually got nothing to add tonight. Totally unproductive- but I am encouraged to keep attending this class!




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