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Doctoral Thesis Abstract

Mythologizing the Transition: A Comparative Study of Bahram Beyzaee and Wole Soyinka

Bahram Beyzaee, the Iranian playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, and Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian poet, playwright, and novelist have produced artistic works that transcend the limitations of time and locality to become powerful comments on human life and socio-political and cultural institutions. This research study examines the major themes and dramatic techniques of these two writers to demonstrate how, in two very different cultural settings, traditional modes and themes appear in modern art forms to renegotiate cultural identity. I argue that both writers place themselves in a post postcolonial position which rather than being concerned about ‘writing back against the centre’ reflects on the cultural shortcomings that leaves their people at the mercy of vicious internal and external forces. I also demonstrate how they demythologize the traditional superstitious beliefs that haunt the present, foreground the inauthenticity of the modern hybrid obsessions that distort everyday life in their countries and mythologize and glorify the positive aspects of history and contemporary life to redefine cultural identity in terms of the best their cultures can offer.

The first two chapters give an account of the history of Iranian and Nigerian performance forms in the context of socio-political, cultural, literary and artistic movements and traditions. The third chapter proceeds to present a short discussion of the theatrical vision and themes of Beyzaee and Soyinka and embarks on a general comparison of the two writers. Chapter four is focused on Beyzaee and Soyinka’s depiction of the intellectuals as sacrificial heroes whose death may initiate social purgation and cultural regeneration and liberation. Chapter five is less mythical and more sociopolitical. It is a reflection on the writers’ portrayal of women in their works and their success or failure in transcending literary and cultural stereotypes in a world where the means of production and socio-economic facts and the cultural developments associated with them demand a rapid movement away from patriarchal values. Chapter six is devoted to the study of another major issue in the process of cultural transition, namely, redefining the position of ethnic minorities in the myth of nationhood. This last chapter is followed by a brief conclusion, discussing the results and the future possibilities of drama in the context of rapid transition

This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by [UCL Mellon Admin]

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