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

Meimandi, Mohammad Nabi (2008). ‘Just as strenuous a nationalist as ever’, W.B. Yeats and postcolonialism: tensions, ambiguities, and uncertainties. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/134


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