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‘Just as strenuous a nationalist as ever’, W.B. Yeats and postcolonialism: tensions, ambiguities, and uncertainties

Meimandi, Mohammad Nabi (2008)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This study investigates William Butler Yeats’s relationship to the issues of colonialism and anti-colonialism and his stance as a postcolonial poet. A considerable part of Yeats criticism has read him either as a revolutionary and anti-colonial figure or a poet with reactionary and colonialist mentality. The main argument of this thesis is that in approaching Yeats’s position as a (post)colonial poet, it is more fruitful to avoid an either / or criticism and instead to foreground the issues of change, circularity, and hybridity. The theoretical framework is based on Homi Bhabha’s analysis of the complicated relationship between the colonizer and the colonized identities. It is argued that Bhabha’s views regarding the hybridity of the colonial subject, and also the inherent complexity and ambiguity in the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized can provide us with a better understating of the Irish poet’s complex interactions with Irish nationalism and British colonialism. By a close reading of some of Yeats’s works from different periods of his long career, it is shown that most of the time he adopted a double, ambiguous, and even contradictory position with regard to his political loyalties. It is suggested that the very presence of tensions and uncertainties which permeates Yeats’s writings and utterances should warn us against a monolithic, static, and unchanging reading of his colonial identity. Finally, it is argued that a postcolonial approach which focuses on the issue of diversity and hybridity of the colonial subject can increase our awareness of Yeats’s complex role in and his conflicted relationship with a colonized and then a (partially) postcolonial Ireland.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Gąsiorek, Andrzej (1960-)
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
Department:English
Keywords:English Literature, W.B. Yeats, Postcolonialism, Irish Nationalism, Hybridity,
Subjects:PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
Library Catalogue:Check for printed version of this thesis
ID Code:134
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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