Media, English and Culture Seminar – 22 Nov 2012
Dr Norbert Bugeja (The University of Kent)
Rethinking the Threshold: A Critique of Liminal Space in World Literary and Postcolonial Critical Discourses
22 November 2012, 6pm in MY120, Avenue CampusThis paper discusses the notion of liminality in world literary and postcolonialist thought. It surveys and critiques ‘threshold’ and ‘in-between’ states in literary studies today, situating liminal space as a fraught form of consciousness that mediates between conditions of historical contingency and the memorializing present. Referring to forms of memoir that have emerged from the Middle East over the past decade, the paper locates their discursive thresholds as articulations of what Henri Lefebvre has termed espaces derepresentation – spaces of narrative based within histories of local communities and fledgling nations that are redolent with memorial and imaginary elements which very often transcend the specificities of localization. The paper proposes a nuanced, materialist rethinking of liminal consciousness today, assessing its relation to the impact of volatile memories and its congruence with reactions to the open wounds of history. Its critique of memoirs recently penned by world “celebrity” writers proposes the liminal as that double-edged representational chasm that opens up when present literary acts of memorializing are brought to bear upon the elusive histories of the early-twentieth-century Middle East.
Dr Norbert Bugeja is Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Kent. His monograph Postcolonial Memoir in the Middle East: Rethinking the Liminal in Mashriqi Writing was published by Routledge last August, in the ‘Research in Postcolonial Literatures Series’. He is currently editing a special postcolonial studies issue of the journal CounterText and publishing articles on Orhan Pamuk, Amos Oz, Théophile Gautier and the Mediterranean.
Norbert has also lectured at the University of Warwick, where he read for a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literary Studies as a Commonwealth Doctoral Scholar, under the supervision of Benita Parry, Neil Lazarus and Rashmi Varma. He has also lectured at the University of Malta where he is currently Visiting Lecturer. Norbert has been invited to address international conferences, seminars and literature festivals in the United Kingdom, Scotland, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey, Australia and Indonesia, and has also been a contributor to the Routledge Annotated Bibliography of English Studies (ABES).