Ato Quayson, "Comparative Postcolonialisms: Storytelling and Community in Sholem Aleichem and Chinua Achebe"

Israel and Sala Disenhouse Memorial Lecture Fund

Sholem Aleichem and Chinua Achebe's fundamental commitment to modes of storytelling allows us to draw parallels and counterpoints between them. In both works storytelling is shaped by the essential polysemy of orality (such as the collocation of proverbs, gnomic statements, and anecdotes as crucial aspects of the stories being told), as well as an orientation toward ritual (in terms of the formal repetition of storytelling motifs and devices).  In the Tevye stories the first-person narration is addressed to various explicit and implied addressees and gives the impression of an immediate orality, while in Arrow of God the third-person narrator is co-extensive with the one we encounter in Things Fall Apart in its quasi-ethnographic orientation. In both texts storytelling and orality are mediums for identifying with an imagined community.  The objective of this talk is to compare the two authors as a way of evaluating the current state of studies of world literature, which as a general rule have not brought the Yiddish tradition in dialogue with other minor literatures.

Ato Quayson is Professor of English at the University of Toronto. 

This event is free and open to the public. No registration required. Limited seating.

Supported with the help of the Millie Goodman Endowment Fund for Yiddish and presented by the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies

Date & Time
Monday, March 7, 2016 - 4:00pm

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100, 170 St. George Street