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How Strange the ChangeLanguage, Temporality, and Narrative Form in Peripheral Modernisms$
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Marc Caplan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804774765

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804774765.001.0001

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Defining Peripheral Modernism

Defining Peripheral Modernism

(p.25) One Defining Peripheral Modernism
How Strange the Change
Stanford University Press

The aspects of life transformed through modernization can be summarized in terms identified by Michel de Certeau, whose “supersessionist” model for modernity reflects a transition from orality to literacy. This model appears to be suitable for understanding the dramatic transition in the purely oral Yoruba culture as a result of its subjugation in the nineteenth century by the modern, literate British Empire. Both Eastern European Jews and Independence-era Africans view tradition and modernity as two concepts that continue to coexist, interact, and compete with one another for several generations. For both Yiddish and African literature, oral, folkloric culture exerts a structural and thematic influence on written narrative through the pronounced fantastic, supernatural character of the first books in these respective traditions. This chapter examines African and Yiddish literature as well as Hasidic literature. It discusses the “deterritorialized languages” of Reb Nakhman and Amos Tutuola by considering some of the ways in which these two writers are connected to the “political immediacy” of modernity.

Keywords:   Yiddish literature, African literature, Amos Tutuola, Reb Nakhman, Hasidic literature, modernity, Yoruba, deterritorialized languages, political immediacy

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