13/1030: Finishing up a little more what I started

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so slow about writing up my Transnationalism notes, it’s because I’m trying to figure out what purpose it suits for my dissertation. Of course transnationalism, nationalism, and colonialism are all connected, but I want to explain how one should not think of the three as opposing each other, but developing out of and supplementing each other. For example, colonialism is an extension of nationalism. Nation building and spreading influence lead to colonialism, but spreading interests too far also lead to the weakening of the concept of the nation. In the case of Great Britain in particular, so many countries with people of diverse ethnicities were colonized. British soldiers and officials living abroad had cultural influences that they incorporated into their own British being. Then, after the post-WWII agreement that former British colonists had the right to British citizenship, a host of new ideas of “what does a British citizen look and act like?” challenged the homogeneous WASP identity. In a way, because of this, England is a nation and a transnation at once. On the other hand, those who came to Great Britain still saw themselves as citizens of their home nation and as transnationals in Britain. 

This contributes to post-colonial talk. 

On that note, though, can we start to talk of these literatures as post-national? The more transnational the citizens of a country feel, the less hold nation will have. At the same time, the desire to belong to something, and the practical need to have organized states, keeps the concept of nation alive. 

Parallel to that thought, one can consider cultures and how, even those who buy into a transnational or postnational idea still find themselves tied to a culture in their upbringing. Even conscious movement towards counter culture is a kind of culture. 

But there are still critics who believe in the dissolution of culture. Wolfgang Welsch, for example, looked at cultures and argued that people no longer live within the bounds of what is acceptable within their culture. Rather, they accept cultural  standards, even if they are created by considering multiple different standards across cultural boundaries. 

“‘Transculturalität’ will beides anzeigen: dass wir uns jenseits der klassischen Kulturauffassung befinden; und dass die neuen Kultur-bzw. Lebensformen durch diese alten Formationen wie selbstverständlich hindurchgehen” (in Information Philosophie 2 (1992). 

I definitely understand that culture is no longer determined by traditional markers, and that each person in today’s world, in a way, creates his/her own culture independently of  national, ethnic, religious formations. That’s a little beyond what Welsch writes. However, I also think that what we describe, the disregard for standards, goes against the very things that make up culture and nation. Both are groups that one belongs to by meeting certain requirements. Without meeting these, or by refusing to meet them (Mascha in Birken), there is little to call it a culture or nation by. This is more post nation than trans. 

Now, on that interesting note,  can we begin to talk about our world as one in which post-media is a reality? Because of the huge influence of media on our lives, can one talk of a life without it? And since there is not life without it (argument I’m proposing, I don’t think it’s true), maybe we should try to imagine a world after these new technological changes have made us all media. 

I don’t know, that last idea is a bit out on a limb. But worth exploring (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it).

I wrote all this despite not wanting to an hour ago.

Siehst du? Geht doch. 

Now to reward myself with a movie I’ve been looking forward to for some time: Winter Soldier (I’m not all intellect).

(I wrote this post on Saturday, but didn’t get to post until today).

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality

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Hamburg in Literature

The Elbe in the vicinity of Hamburgh is so divided, and spread out, that the country looks more like a plain overflowed by heavy rain than the bed of a great river- Dorothy Wordsworth- Alfoxden Journal 1798

Lately, I find myself surprisingly excited whenever I come across “Hamburg” in the works I have to read for my MA exam. Of course, the city comes up more frequently in the German texts. For example, Thomas Mann’s main character in Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) comes from Hamburg, Part of this is because Hamburg is industrially a successful city. Lying (almost) at the mouth of the Elbe, the fourth largest river in Europe, which flows all the way through the Czech Republic, the city was obviously home to many traders for a long time. It’s a major import and export destination for which one can see its roots in the Speisekammern. At any rate, Hans Castorp comes from Hamburg because he is a dignified Burgher (one of Mann’s favorite types of characters), and Hamburg is a city full of them.

However, while I expected to come across Germany in my German texts, I was a little thrown aback when I read that Dorothy Wordsworth and her husband were there. I shouldn’t have been though, considering that all the Romantics made it their duty to visit continental Europe and the “old world.” Dorothy writes about their trip in her Alfoxden journal. Not everything she describes is flattering… for example, according to her the bakers and shopkeepers take pride in how they can cheat their customers– especially if they are foreign. Dorothy clearly prefers England to Germany (and I don’t blame her, necessarily), but it’s really fun to read about the parts of the city she describes and imagine her there. Some of my favorite passages:

We drank tea upon deck by the light of the moon. I enjoyed solitude and quietness, and many a recollected pleasure, hearing still the unintelligible jargon of the many tongues that gabbled in the cabin.

She describes the diversity of sounds and people she sees. To her they are strange; to me, they are like a waft of familiarity:

Hanoverians with round borders, showing all the face, and standing upright, a profusion of riband.. . . Fruit-women, with large straw hats in the shape of an inverted bowl, or white handkerchiefs tied round the head like a bishop’s mitre. Jackets the most common, often the petticoat and jacket of different colours.

Loreena McKennit and English Literature

What more enjoyable way to take in English literature than to be able to listen to it?

At least I don’t know most poems as well as I do these:

“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes

“The Layde and the Knight” by Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe, anyone?)

and my personal favorite, “The Lady of Shalott” by Lord Alfred Tennyson

edited to add “The Stolen Child” by Alfred Butler Yeats

Apparently, Lorena McKennit was very inspired by these literary works. I can understand why, and she produces beautiful renditions of these artworks. It helps that they are easily translated to music.