No clever title here. This weekend if going to be (HAS to be big) on the work front. I want to get a bibliography going for my Literature of Childhood class.

I am thinking of look at The Song of Hiawatha by Longfellow, and I think what I want to do is a postcolonial reading of the text but also mix in an Althusserian reading. This poem was immensely popular, and I think that popularity came from the text being used as an indoctrinating tool by the Ideological State Apparatus.

There are two interesting currents here. On the one hand, the book taught millions of children to read, thus forming a community with a shared language (the text of Hiawatha), but the text is also a brutal pillaging of Indian tradition at a time when Indians weren’t really a “problem” for the U.S. anymore. This is all still muddled in my head, which is why I am trying to form some coherent idea about it here.

WA THINOG’O (or is it Cesiare?) talks about the “Cultural Bomb” which is when a colonial state comes in and takes over the natives language. The imperial power also forces its culture on to the natives and tells the natives that all of those native beliefs are “savage” and bad; therefore, the natives end up wanting to adapt to the imperial power and begin to think that maybe the imperial power is right– that maybe the culture the native is following is savage and bad, thus leaving natives to “freely” adopt the colonial culture. But what happens when the colonial power is using this Cultural Bomb on its own people? This is where the Althusser comes in. The poem becomes an ISA used to colonize its own people…

Well, see how it goes– today is a day of reading and summarizing.

Advertisements