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Stereotypes in Contemporary Literature - Book Report/Review Example

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Summary
This study will attempt to demonstrate that social groups, no matter how cohesive their identity or their "difference" appears to be, are not constituted by nature. According to this paradigm, social groupings - like region, race and nation - are always in flux, always in the process of being constructed and negotiated…
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Stereotypes in Contemporary Literature
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Stereotypes in Contemporary Literature

Download file to see previous pages... It is not clear because the same word can have both meanings. Because there is no other word, he has to use it in such a way as to close out certain connotations and open up others. The term 'black' faces similar crisis. People did not have another word for it, and there was a contestation around that word precisely because it was already inserted in the discourse in a negative way. That was a word that had to be disarticulated from its older discursive configuration and rearticulated in a new one. The politics of identity is therefore about disentangling it from its older, negative notions and reinvesting it with positive associations.1
Literature reflects the perceptions, and misperceptions of its time, its authors, and its readers. The inextricable relationship between literature and culture reflects the continual clash of values and worldviews inherent in human society. Much has been written and debated on different groups' portrayals in literary works; full-length critical works are devoted to the stereotypes of many different groups. The word "stereotype" itself has different connotations, from simply denoting a type to castigating certain groups. The whole range of possible interpretations can be found in American works.
Characters are sometimes referred to as "static" and "dynamic" or "flat" and "round." Dynamic or round characters change in response to the actions or circumstances. Authors often purposefully employ static characters; to say that a work of literature includes such characters is not to condemn it. When such types become merely caricatures, those with a single exclusive trait, then they no longer resemble believable human beings. Authors sometimes employ character types, or stock characters, sometimes atypical ones, and sometimes combine the two-even in the same characters, thus portraying both the universal and the particular. Since literary works reflect their times and authors' views, as times change, the reception of the literature often changes with them. Challenges to current works of literature show that culture is often divided on the issues of race, ethnicity and gender.
Implications
Literature provides a complex, implicit interweaving of types and stereotypes. Readers must distinguish between typifying that makes comparison to universal human experience and stereotyping that identifies others based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and all the other classifications that culture recognizes. To resist typifying leaves literary characters who bear little resemblance to human beings. However, to anticipate behavior, values, and attitudes based solely on identification with a particular group misrepresents human experience.


Resisting Stereotypes


In the eighteenth century, when the empirical theories of English thinkers John Locke and Sir Isaac Newton were shaping American literature generally, the African American presence in America added a new dimension to the cultural identity of American literature. Since African Americans were involuntarily transported into a new environment, their cultural transition became the source of their literary creativity as well as a historical contribution. With the passage of time, African American ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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