Voices From the Past, Choices in the Present, Vision for the Future

By:
Dr. Mabel Deane Khawaja
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Embedded in the cultural diversity of American literature are poetic voices that express fresh perspectives and meanings for interpretation beyond traditional boundaries. For scholars of humanities, these perspectives bring together human experience and knowledge across cultural boundaries diminishing the risks associated with cultural ignorance, misunderstandings, and prejudices of the past.

On common ground of cultural pluralism, which embraces both global and local perspectives, literature shows us the value of differences not only to learn about cultural tensions and divisions, but also to appreciate points of convergence and cultural transitions and blending traditions that are often overlooked within the scope of conflicted landscapes. Selected works of modern American authors illustrate how mystical language links voices and cultures through memory and imagination of the artist. Edgar Alan Poe states in his “Philosophy of Composition” that originality resides not in intuition, nor in invention, but in “negation” which gives his works a transnational appeal with global dimensions that disregard cultural constraints. While he blends his universal appeal with the intensity of emotional effect, he consciously delimits traditional boundaries endorsed by cultural constraints of ethics and human reasoning. His paradoxical use of the word and image in “Raven” subverts the traditional boundaries of good and evil - the angelic and demonic realms -for a transnational and timeless reality.

Unlike Poe, several modern American poets consciously infuse cultural references in their poetry, inviting readers to explore the meaning of the word and image on common ground through cross-cultural discourse. Their purpose is not “negation” but affirmation of a universal vision or dream that suggests cultural parallels and paradigms across traditional boundaries.


Keywords: Cultural Parallels, Language of Mysticism
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Voices From the Past, Choices in the Present, Vision for the Future


Dr. Mabel Deane Khawaja

Associate Professor, English Department, Hampton University
Hampton, Virginia, USA

Mabel Deane-Khawaja, M.A. (Western Illinois University), Ph.D. (West Virginia University) teaches literature and composition courses at Hampton University, Virginia, USA. She is a former International Programs Coordinator/French Translator of the US government and a recipient of the 1999-2000 Fulbright Award as Senior Scholar to Tunisia, North Africa. Her cross-cultural research includes several scholarly articles in refereed publications. She is a co-sponsored speaker of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); she is also the chair of the NCTE Standing Committee on International Concerns and Editor of Assembly on American Literature publications.

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