Description - (Dis)forming the American Canon by Ronald Judy
Few critical studies have examined the African-American slave narratives that were written in Arabic, and none of these has seized the occasion to reconsider the problems of translation and canon formation, the relationship between literacy and reason, and the relation of Western Enlightenment reason to Arabic texts. Ronald A.T. Judy offers an alternative interpretation of literacy that challenges the claim of traditional Enlightenment discourse that literacy and reason are the privileged properties of Western culture. Judy argues, on the basis of his readings of autobiographical African-American Arabic slave narratives, that through the production of the Arabic text, the African slave already had the necessary element that the West attributes to "reason" before his original introduction to Western culture - a literacy that already mediated between Africa and Europe. Paying careful attention to the problems of translation and canon formation, the book sets out to demonstrate how cultural values, the humanities, and Western figures of reason must be transformed, and in particular how national literary traditions must be reconstituted and globalized, in the light of current events.
It includes the first published translation of the longest Arabic-language slave narrative known to exist in North America, which is said to be an autobiographical 19th-century Arabic slave narrative known as "Ben Ali's Diary".
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University of Minnesota Press
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
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