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Raising the mongrel standard: Epic hybridization in Joyce, Rushdie, and Walcott

Pennie Jane Ticen, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In this dissertation, I explore the connections between three post-colonial epics: James Joyce's Ulysses, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, and Derek Walcott's Omeros. Each work focuses on the disruption and loss that has occurred respectively in Ireland, India, and the Caribbean because of each country's encounter with the colonizing force of England. Out of this experience are born narrators who must contend with the fact of a hybridized and contentious inheritance as they struggle to articulate their experiences as members of nations gaining their political freedom. Using a blend of both European and indigenous theorists, I argue that by actively cultivating a stance of hybridity, these works use what Homi Bhabha has termed “border terrain” to locate new nations, along the lines of Benedict Anderson's “imagined communities,” that attempt to evade the prescriptiveness of both colonialism and emergent nationalism. Rather than continuing the Manichean Dichotomy used by English colonizers to subdue and divide indigenous populations, Joyce, Rushdie, and Walcott offer narratives that encompass elements from both colonial and indigenous inheritances in a volatile mixture. Having inherited a fractured and contentious world of narrative exclusion, the characters of Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, Saleem Sinai, Achille, and Major Plunkett actively transgress the boundaries between narratives, looking for dialogue and connection. Ultimately, the endings of the three texts provide clues toward a future where Edward Said's notion of reading and hearing “contrapuntally” will reflect both the multiplicity and the contentiousness of the post-colonial inheritance.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|Caribbean literature|Asian literature

Recommended Citation

Ticen, Pennie Jane, "Raising the mongrel standard: Epic hybridization in Joyce, Rushdie, and Walcott" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9920661.