Orality and Literacy in Coexistence

Competing Methodologies: Orality and Literacy in coexistence

Can orality and literacy coexist? On the face of it it seems a simple question. In our society, for example, orality and literacy coexist in a fairly stable way. Witness the example of a joke, or an urban myth, either of which can go through numerous retellings without being substantially altered, despite their lack of literate codification. In another instance, take a look at medieval European society, where the largest proportion of people did not read or write; their oral traditions developed over time, such as the troubadours, the fabliaux, etc. But these coexisted with the existence of a lettered class of people, who did codify the elements of the oral culture which they thought to be worth preserving, and these codifications, looked at synchronically, failed to substantially affect the perpetuation of an oral tradition. The body of this essay will then look at orality and literacy and their places in African literature, and will, I hope, show that there is no essential volatility to the oral tradition of African literature as a result of literacy.

To begin with, I offer a couple of terms. Illiterate and Inarticulate, where the former signifies a lack of familiarity, or a certain comfort level with the devices and conventions of written literature, and the latter means a lack of familiarity or a certain comfort level with the devices and conventions of oral literature.1 Each, on the face of it, would seek to subsume the other, by, in Spencer-Walters’ words,

the devaluation of orality [as a] colonial preoccupation (p. 2) and [the belief that] colonial literature [was] disabling and chimeral (p.5)

But it is not as simple as even Kalu would make it. Throwing around the gross generalization “western”, where she means “European” she asserts that literacy in an African context seems to separate literature from society due to European methodology. She implies that African thought espouses or engenders unity among disciplines such as art, literature, and cosmology, whereas “western” thought would view these as separate disciplines. But she falls back on Foucault, a “western” thinker4 to begin her essay.

She declares a fallacy in trying to transpose an oral tradition to a literacy context, by saying that

The fallacy here is in the assumption that either Tutuola or Achebe was writing [in English] for the speakers of English (p.29)

If written in English, then for whom other than those equipped to handle the text in English might the text have been written?

Essentially Kalu seems to make her point, that literacy in the world at large overwhelms the oral tradition, by drawing upon the thought methods of the “westerns” she dismisses. There still exist grand oral traditions among the Igbo5, for instance, which don’t seem in any danger of subsumption, as they are so multidimensional that they could not be translated into the strictly written medium. Because of their involvement, though, and the difficulty of presentation other than as a complete whole, the only problem seems to be one of dissemination.

If any problems in analysis and interpretation exist, is this to the detriment of the oral tradition itself, or to its threat as a continued form? I say no. Just as the Mbari, for example, will continue, different methods of analysis and interpretation will always exist for it, and, for that matter, any given text, whether codified in the written or spoken word, the dance, the ritual, or whatever. The analysis is no threat to the text itself. As Derrida has shown us, any sign can take any signifier, and, as analysis is often the attempt to exploit this fact, it has little to do with the survival of the oral tradition in a sea of literacy.

So, can orality and literacy coexist in a stable manner? In a word, yes. Kalu’s arguments have less to do with the thing itself than they have to do with the interpretation of the thing . Its academic or scholastic interpretation will have little to do with its interpretation by those to whom it was addressed, who will encounter no problems with a satisfactory interpretation of their own.

Works Cited

  1. Kalu, Anthonia C. “The Oral Narrative in African Literature: African Literary Theory Revisited”, in Spencer-Walters, Tom, ed.Orality, Literacy and the Fictive Imagination: African and Diasporan Literatures Troy, MI:Bedford, 1998
  2. Spencer-Walters, Tom. “Introduction: The Convergence of Orality and Literacy in African and Diaspora Literatures: An Overview”, in Orality, Literacy and the Fictive Imagination: African and Diasporan Literatures Troy, MI:Bedford, 1998

Representations of the West African/West Indian Trickster

 A Discussion of Representations of the West African/West Indian Trickster "Ananse" in Children's Literature

This paper will examine the representation of the archetypal West African/ West Indian Trickster figure, Ananse, from children's stories in a number of cultures. Beginning with an examination of some common aspects of the Trickster figure from mythologies around the world, the essay will examine the presentation and role of the Trickster Ananse in children's tales from several cultures. It will be argued that, although Trickster characters such as Ananse perform sophisticated functions as cultural "actors", they are also excellent teaching aids as they introduce children to many of the complexities of the human condition that are common to us all – regardless of race, religion, class or gender.

The Trickster character is one of the most universal characters in the history of human literatures. Critics have noted that, whatever form or name such Tricksters take, they all share a characteristic "elusiveness" and, for lack of a better word, "trickiness":

. . . the trickster appears in the myths and folklore of nearly every traditional society, sometimes as a god, more often as an animal. Seemingly trivial and altogether lawless, he arouses affection and even esteem wherever his stories are told, as he defies mythic seriousness and social logic. Just as skilfully, he has slipped out of our contemporary interpretive nets to thumb his nose at both scholarly and popular understanding of so-called primitive peoples. Yet these peoples too know their tricksters as the very embodiment of elusiveness. (Pelton, 1)

In the above passage we see some of the common attributes of the Trickster. There is the fact that Tricksters – such as Ananse – are almost always male. As with many features of the Trickster, the reasons for this have been lost in the mists of time, and modern explanations vary (Hyde, 8). However, clearly this has not harmed the popular appeal of the character over time.

A large part of this popularity is due to another attribute of the Trickster, and one of particular importance in his representation in children's stories: his lawlessness. Parents today may find this aspect of the Trickster troubling in children's stories. However, an honest appraisal of the stories would suggest that it may be this very feature of the Trickster character that makes him so popular to youngsters. The Trickster's tricks embody his energy and dynamism, and make him irresistibly appealing to young people (Hyde, 7, 9).

Another common feature of many Trickster stories is that they represent the struggles of an "underdog" against a more powerful enemy, who can be defeated only by intelligence. African animal Trickster stories reflect this trait. Some scholars have noted that when slaves were transported from Africa to work on plantations in the American south, they brought with them the animal Trickster of their African tradition, and adapted him into "the emblem and culture hero who symbolizes freedom for all those held in bondage" (Hamilton, 13).

In this way, Tricksters such as the African Ananse spread across continents and cultures. Moreover, recalling the characteristic trickiness and subversive nature of these characters, their appeal among generations of African Americans is not hard to understand:

. . . the African animal trickster tale offered a model of behaviour for equalizing conditions between masters and slaves by breaking the rules of a system that gave slavemasters a clear economic, political, and social advantage . . . . as in the traditional African trickster tales, the paradigm of the powerless overcoming a much more powerful adversary by means of subterfuge holds true. (Ammons, 164)

It should be noted, however, that there are significant differences across cultures regarding representations of the Trickster. For example, African-West Indian-American Tricksters such as Ananse are seldom represented as self-defeating fools as are Tricksters from some other cultures (although we will examine an exception to this below) (Ammons, x). However, it is difficult for modern critics to bridge the divides of culture and time to discover just how cultures such as those in West Africa centuries ago saw Tricksters such as Ananse.

Laughter, humour and irony permeate everything Trickster does. The reaction of the audience in aboriginal societies to both him and his exploits is prevailingly one of laughter tempered by awe. . . . Yet it is difficult to say whether the audience is laughing at him, at the tricks he plays on others, or at the implications his behaviour and activities have for them. (Radin et al., x)

An excellent representation of this dual aspect of the Trickster may be found in the African Trickster character Ananse. Ananse (Anansi/Annancy) is the Trickster of the Tshi and Ashanti people, and was brought by slaves from the West African coast (in what is now southern Ghana) to the West Indies. The word Ananse means "spider" in the language of the Ashanti, and all Ashanti stories, whether about spiders or not, are called Ananesem (Hamilton, 45). Some seventy-five of these stories have been collected, of which Ananse appears in twenty-five. The stories themselves were transmitted as part of an oral tradition, and were told primarily to children (Pelton, 20, 30).

Consider the Ananse tale A Story, A Story. Here we see some of the characteristic features of the Trickster. Ananse is a sort of storytelling "Prometheus" who, instead of bringing fire to 5 mankind, brings stories. Significantly, Ananse seems to be both part human (whom he cares for) and part divine (as he is capable of spinning "a web up to the sky" to meet the Sky God (Haley, 4). Not surprisingly, the Sky God is a great and intimidating figure who presents Ananse with three challenges before he will give him stories. He laughs at the weak figure he sees before him:

"Twe, twe, twe," chuckled the Sky God.

"How can a weak old man like you,

so small, so small, so small, pay my price?"

                                        (Haley, 6)

It is not hard to see why children would like this underdog. He no sooner appears than he is disregarded by the stronger characters. Of course, it comes as no surprise that Ananse meets the challenge of the Sky God; capturing a fierce leopard, a nest of hornets, and a fairy-spirit by using imagination rather than strength. In return, the Sky God carries out his side of the bargain and gives Ananse his box of stories which, from that time on, are known as "Spider Stories" (Haley, 28).

While Ananse was a figure of admiration above, in "Ananse the Spider in Search of a Fool" we can see Ananse outwitting himself Bryan, 3-10). The story is simple, with an engaging repetitive structure; however, the underlying message is complex. Ananse has devised a plan to trick some foolish person into fishing for him for nothing, allowing Ananse to gain all the benefits of the 6 other's labour. However, his friend Crow turns the tables on Ananse, and uses the Trickster's own greed to inflict a painful lesson on the Spider:

Tears of pain flowed from Ananse's eyes. Then suddenly they became tears of shame. For, at last, Spider Ananse realized that when one seeks to make a fool of another, he is bound to make a bigger fool of himself. (Bryan, 10)

This humiliation of a folk icon suggests something of the complex social role played by the Trickster Ananse. He is sometimes admirable – as in the previous story – and sometimes despised, as in the story immediately above. Readers of the above stories would get a troubling sense that Ananse is a far more complex and sophisticated character than is commonly found in children’s literature.

This aspect of his nature carried across the Atlantic on slave ships. In "That One, Anansi" (Hamilton, 46-51) – an Ananse story from the West Indies – we encounter the Trickster again taking advantage of a friend; in this case Big Alligator's generous offer of a place to sleep. The narrator tells us: "Anansi be up to something, for true" (Hamilton, 47). While Big Alligator's daughter suspects Anansi wants to get into their 7 kitchen to eat their eggs, and she leaves scorpions in the jars to trap him, Anansi somehow knows about the trap and successfully steals all the food he can eat. Then he manages his escape by promising a boatman half his land; which, of course, he had no intention of giving. The end of the story sees Anansi getting away with premeditated theft where, in the words of the editor: "After much twisting and turning, Anansi shows he can never be trusted" (Hamilton, 107).

A second story is set in Africa – "Magic Anansi" (Hamilton, 52-7) – with one of its main characters being a tiger; a creature not found in the West Indies. Tiger, who anthropomorphically lives in a house, selfishly decides he wants the house all to himself, and kicks out Anansi, who lives on the roof, and Goat who lives under the house. Fleeing the threats of Tiger, Anansi uses his magic to help Goat escape. The story concludes with Anansi fleeing across the river on his spider thread; the smaller creature outwitting the stronger Tiger.

The final Anansi story in the Hamilton volume is "Cunnie Anansi Does Some Good" (Hamilton, 58-71), which bears a very deceptive title as this story shows the Trickster at his ruthless worst, as opposed to doing "good". The adjective "cunnie" means "cunning"; a indication of the West Indian Gullah speech – a mingling of Ashanti, English , French and Spanish languages used by these Africans on Plantations in the West Indies and American South (Hamilton, 45, 108).

In the story, Cunnie Anansi meets his young friends Sima 8 Tiger and Breda Parrot and tells them they should become thieves, and mask themselves and change their names:

"Every house we come to, they have to tell us our new names," says Cunnie Anansi. "And if not?" asks Sima. "Then we take their food. We Tie'um and heave'um up a tree." "Good news! Good news!" roars Sima Tiger. All three sins as they go along. (Hamilton, 60- 61)

Oddly enough, the first house they come to belongs to Breda Parrot's mother. The three trick Mum Parrot, tie her up – "She's squawking every which way" (Hamilton, 62) – and steal all her food. They do the same with Mumma Tiger; but when they come to Mutha Anansi's house, Anansi's mother is able to evade the trick question because of Anansi's coaching. Later, when the frustrated Tiger and Parrot attempt to avenge themselves on their tricky friend, Ananse lets them fall which causes Tiger to break a leg, and Parrot to break a wing. Mutha Anansi promises to heal them if they free their mothers so "they can scold and switch you" (Hamilton, 70), and promise never to steal again (Hamilton, 71).

What are readers – especially modern adults thinking of stories for the education of children – to make of this 9 contradictory figure? By most moral standards, Ananse is far too deceitful and cruel to be an acceptable role model for children. However, Tricksters sharing characteristics with Ananse have been widely popular for centuries in cultures from Africa to Europe to North America. Are all of these morally deficient, or perhaps our understanding of the function of characters in children's stories needs to be revised?

Children are more complex intellectually and emotionally than many adults given them credit for. To attempt to teach them that the world is a bright and sunny place where virtue is always rewarded, and vice punished, and that people are always entirely good or bad, would be unethical and perhaps useless as well. Tricksters such as Ananse represent a variety of moral positions at different times because humans assume a variety of moral positions at different times. In a sense, Ananse represents both our aspirations and our shames. As such, he has been an excellent model for children as they grow to understand the complexities of human life. 

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Bibliography

  • Ammons, E., and White-Parks, A. (1994) Tricksterism in Turn of the Century American Literature: A Multicultural Perspective. Hanover: University Press of New England.
  • Bryan, A. (1971). "Ananse the Spider in Search of a Fool." in The Ox of the Wonderful Horns and Other African Folktales. New York: Atheneum.
  • Haley, G. (1970). A Story, A Story. New York: Atheneum, 1971.
  • Hamilton, V. (1997) A Ring of Tricksters: Animal Tales from America, the West Indies, and Africa. New York: Blue Sky, 1997.
  • Hyde, L. (1998) Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Pelton, R. (1980). The Trickster in West Africa: A Study in Mythic Irony and Sacred Delight. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Radin, P., Kerenyi, K., and Jung, C.G. (1956). The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology. New York: Greenwood. 

Time, Innovation and Reading Geography

Time, Innovation and Reading Geography: The Case of Nigeria

Introduction

This paper examines geographical influences, particularly colonialism’s impact, in the history and literature of Nigeria. The state of Nigeria is a European geographical concept imposed on African reality. This dissonance is revealed in both the country’s colonial past and its present dysfunction. It also echoes throughout the diverse literature produced in the area for a century.

The study is both fruitful and interesting because it amounts to a denial of the state of ‘Nigeria’ or, alternately, the assertion that ‘Nigeria’ does not exist. ‘Nigeria’ is simply the label of a block of land determined by European concerns with European perceptions: Historically, it is a European geographical concept. It has no African reality. Politically it was a no go from the get go. This painful reality is plainly evident in its horrific post-colonial history. The concept of Nigeria is an external imposition on African reality and this is reflected in the dysfunction of the state and the fact that the literature of the region is not the national literature of ‘Nigeria’ but rather a heterogeneous body of work united only in its universal resistance to the very concept of ‘Nigeria’

Literature of Nigeria?

The non-existence of ‘Nigeria’ is also evident in the absence of a literature of ‘Nigeria’. While it is true that the area or region known as ‘Nigeria’ has produced an astonishingly fecund literary constellation there is no literature of ‘Nigeria’. There is Ken Saro Wiwa’s literature of the Ogoni people. (There is also the cruel connection of art and politics in his execution for alleged involvement in an Ogoni political crime.) As long as seventy years ago the first Hausa novels were novels of resistance to British intrusions. The literature of the region is a chronicle of resistance to outside forces and aliens epitomized by the concept of ‘Nigeria’.

In the same way that there is neither logic nor coherence to the political and geographic concept of ‘Nigeria’ there is no ‘Nigerian’ literature. Indeed the non-existence of a national literature is the logical outcome of the conception of a state that is the product of an illogical, incoherent and alien geographical and political perception. The existence of ‘Nigeria’ is a necessary precondition for a literature of ‘Nigeria’.

Three decades ago Chinua Achebe argued that the state of Nigeria had both a national literature and ethnic literatures: “If you take Nigeria as an example, the national literature, as I see it, is the literature written in English; and the ethnic literatures are in Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba, Efik, Edo, Ijaw, etc., etc.,” This statement presumes the existence of the nation of ‘Nigeria’ and is therefore contradicted by Achebe’s second admission that ‘Nigeria’ is merely an agglomeration of ‘Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba, Efik, Edo, Ijaw, etc., etc.,’ peoples. While his use of the expression ‘etc., etc.,’ may be only a turn of phrase it also seems racist and dismissive of these very peoples. Regardless, only the second half of Achebe’s assertion is correct.

Consider, further the internal contradiction in the first half of Achebe’s claims. ‘Nigeria’ is an African state. Therefore, how can its ‘national’ language be English unless it is not an ‘African’ nation but a European nation and, more specifically and conceptually accurately, a European state. An African state/nation cannot have English as the language of its national literature: That is inherently contradictory. Therefore, there is no nation of ‘Nigeria’ and no national literature of ‘Nigeria’ however there is, and in abundance, the national literatures of the diverse peoples in the region labeled Nigeria.

Three crosses currently converge to demonstrate this thesis. First, the state of ‘Nigeria’ is a creature of British imperial policy and European colonial geography. Consequently, this external imposition, contradicting the African reality, has been massively dysfunctional. Finally, the nonexistence of ‘Nigeria’ has been evident in the area’s literature since the early years of the last century (soon after the dysfunctional concept of ‘Nigeria’ was created) and long before the post-colonial era.

British imperial policy and European colonial geography

Reorganization of state boundaries has been a constant theme in Nigerian history. The creation of Nigeria at the beginning of the century from the two separate northern and southern regions seems to have been motivated primarily by the Colonial Office’s chagrin at a colony (the north) that drained the treasury and one that was wealthy and profitable (the south): The result was ‘Nigeria’, fiscally balanced from a Colonial Office perspective, but ethnically, religiously and politically an anomaly. At the time the Colonial office expected colonies to be self-supporting and the federation of these two previously independent and entirely different regions reflected accounting convenience in London. The mental universe that created Nigeria was worlds away from Africa.

During the 1940s the underlying ethnic and regional cleavages within Nigeria came to dominate and define the various independence groups. The cleavages inherent in the geographical construct of ‘Nigeria’ emerged as colonialism devolved. Ethnic and geographic realities within Nigeria, coupled with the fragmentation that this generated in the political realm created considerable emphasis on federalism—the union of semiautonomous regions—within the context of calls for independence.

This policy came to fruition in 1957 with the establishment of Eastern and Western regions, augmented by the Northern region in 1959. Fiscally, the regional governments were predominant under the Lyttleton Constitution and the federal or national government was only responsible for currency, external affairs and other national issues. The state governments, in turn, became regional power-bases for the local elites ethnically and economically. Thus, while the federal government tried to act in the national interest and foster Nigerian nationalism it constantly faced pressure from state governments with decidedly different interests.

For this very reason manipulation of state boundaries has become a key element of Nigerian politics. For instance in 1976 the number of states was increased from twelve to nineteen in an attempt to moderate their individual influence. The western state (Yoruba dominated) was divided into three smaller states while Igbo dominated East Central State was split. In the north six Hausa-Fulani dominated states were split into nine new states, only three of which were Hausa-Fulani dominated. Despite this reorganization the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari confronted twelve opposed state governments when it assumed office in October 1979.

Simply put there is not much to the state of ‘Nigeria’. It arose out of fiscal expediency in the British colonial office. The national or federal government has had to struggle to assert itself against ethnic and regionally independent states and reorganization of state boundaries has been a constant theme in Nigerian history. The political entity known as ‘Nigeria’ has no basis in reality and no roots. It is an imposition that is  ungrounded. Consequently, it is manipulated and moulded to suit political and economic demands. This is clear evidence of its hollowness and its disassociation from reality. If it were a concept firmly rooted in African reality it could not be changed and manipulated so freely.

Dysfunctional Reality

In the forty years since independence Nigeria has been ruled by the military for more than three decades. Even the current democratically elected President is a retired general and former military ruler of the country. Throughout those forty years Nigeria has also earned the sobriquet of the most corrupt nation in the world. In 1999 the World Bank reported that the vast majority of Nigeria’s oil revenue “Was either siphoned abroad or used for prestige projects.” The state is nondemocratic, dominated by the military, inequitable and fiscally irresponsible. Unfortunately, it can justifiably be described as a model of post-colonial dysfunction. It is resource rich and economically impaired.

As a result of a military dominated bureaucratic/authoritarian state, poverty, and corruption the standard of living has been steadily declining. The current desperate situation is captured in the titles of two recent books about Nigeria. Nobel Prize winning poet Sole Soyinka published The Open Sore of a Continent and Karl Maier entitled his, Midnight in Nigeria. If ‘Nigeria’ is a valid concept it is one of the most dysfunctional states in the world. Arguably, this is clear evidence that it is not a state or at least that the ‘state’ has no bearing to reality and is little more than a European and colonial ‘state of mind’.

Literature: Resistance to ‘Nigeria’

When the British began to expand into northern Nigeria at the end of the nineteenth century they encountered the militaristic heritage of the Fulani Empire and the Hausa. Regardless, for the above noted accounting reasons, the area was rapidly incorporated into the colony of Nigeria. Graham Furniss recently published an analysis of Hausa fiction from the 1930s. He notes that the most common theme in these texts is the “Hausa military tradition in its confrontation with the British.” (Furniss, 1998, p. 96) In northern ‘Nigeria’ the literature of resistance did not develop in the post-colonial period, it arose as a relatively immediate impact of the imposition of stricter colonial authority at the turn of the century. The northern region of ‘Nigeria’ was only recently appended to the political entity, bears few connections to its other components and has had a literature of resistance for seventy years.

Indisputably, Ken Saro Wiwa is the most globally renowned Nigerian writer of the past fifteen years. However, his acclaim is owed as much to his tragic death as to his considerable literary talents and achievements.

In November 1993 General Sani Abacha, a former defense minister led a coup. Abacha declared himself president and promised restoration of democracy. His presidency, however, soon turned into a ruthless dictatorship: “the most widespread state-sponsored terror and brigandage in the country’s history.” Under his rule Nigerians saw profits from the country's vast oil supply dwindle, as their leaders' own wealth grew. Abacha siphoned off as much as $4 billion, and Nigeria’s reputation as the most corrupt nation in the world was confirmed. Those who spoke out against him were either executed or jailed. It was during this time that Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni nationalists were sentenced to death while journalists and opposition politicians were jailed by the thousands.

Conclusions

Nigeria’s history since independence has been one of frustration and unrealized potential. Within seven years of independence it was involved in a bloody civil war precipitated by the succession of Biafra. The country has been dominated by the military, corruption is rampant and Africa’s largest oil-producer often sees line-ups at the pumps. It is a dysfunctional concept imposed from outside a century ago.

Karl Maier describes the state of Nigeria as having been “cobbled together.” (Maier, 2000, p. 21) This is not entirely accurate. A century ago the colony was cobbled together. The independent state was not cobbled together but rather simply inherited the boundaries that the colonial authorities had cobbled together. Not surprisingly, in this situation the literature of the region is a literature of resistance to the cobblers.

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References

  1. Achebe, Chinua “The African Writer and the English Language” in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman editors, Columbia University Press New York: 1994, pp. 428-434.
  2. Bevan, David L and Paul Collier and Willem Gunning Nigeria and Indonesia: The Political Economy of Poverty Oxford University Press Oxford: 1999.
  3. Cooper, Brenda “Landscapes, Forests and Borders within the West African Global Village” in Mapping the Sacred: Religion, Geography and Postcolonial Literature Jamie S Scott & Paul Simpson-Housley editors, Rodopi BV Amsterdam: 1990, pp. 274-293.
  4. Furniss, Graham “Hausa Creative Writing in the 1930s” Research in African Literatures 29: March 1998, pp. 87+.
  5. Harvan, Mary “’The Gods of the Delta’: Religion in the Literature of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Movement” in Mapping the Sacred: Religion, Geography and Postcolonial Literature Jamie S Scott & Paul Simpson-Housley editors, Rodopi BV Amsterdam: 1990, pp. 241-263.
  6. Ihonvbere, Julius O “How to Make an Undemocratic Constitution: The Nigerian Example” Third World Quarterly 21: 2 April 2000, pp. 343+.
  7. McDougall, Russell “The Body as Cultural Signifier” in The PostColonial Studies Reader Bill Ashcroft and Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin editors, Routledge London: 1995, pp. 336-340.
  8. Maier, Karl This House has Fallen: Midnight in Nigeria Public Affairs Washington, DC: 2000.
  9. Soyinka, Wole The Open Sore of the Continent Oxford University Press Oxford: 1997.
  10. Wiwa, Ken “Is There Life in the Crippled Giant” The World Today 55: 2 February 1999, pp. 13.
  11. Wiwa, Ken “Nigeria: Wither Nigeria” Inter Press English News Wire 12 June 2001.

Maya Angelou’s Heart of a Woman

Summary: This paper is a summary in detail of Maya Angelou’s Heart of a Woman, the third installment of her autobiography, which includes I know why the caged bird sings and Gather Together in My Name. This book is about her son’s adolescence, and the relationships and changes that took place during her life in the 1960s and 1970s.

Maya Angelou’s memoirs are written in similar style to her other books, all of which have drawn upon her personal experience as a black woman in America in the late 20th century. Her relationship with herself and with her son Guy is the central theme of the novel, although her tumultuous marriage to the South African activist Vus Make provides an interesting contrast to her values as expressed in the rest of the book. The book is novelistic in the way that Kerouac is novelistic – the story of a journey across countries, and encounters with significant individuals, set in a chronological stream marked, in this case, by the growth and development of a child (Guy). The book is also a memoir in the classic sense: a record of the author’s memories during the most significant times in her life. Angelou speaks of herself as “flowering” during the period of time that the memoirs occupy, though the reader’s sense of her personal development seems to be obscured by Angelou’s current state of personal development. This will be discussed below, along with the characters that occupy prominent places in the book, and the historical context in which Angelou’s memoirs are set.

It is often difficult for the author of a memoir to choose the setting appropriate to the tone of the book. In Heart of a Woman, the setting, as it changes from California to New York to London to Cairo, is just as vital to the message of the book, although the interpersonal dynamics of the characters frequently overshadow the detail of the setting. For example, the setting of Angelou’s encounter with Billie Holiday is left fairly vague, in order to spend time describing the emotions of the encounter. This technique of substituting a direct description of the feelings of the author and other characters for a description of the setting is common to modern memoirs, where the language of psychology can be accessed by the audience, and the author need not resort to elaborate figurative metaphor. The contrast between California and New York, for instance, is not a contrast of the sky’s expansiveness or the character of the architecture or the weather, but in the emotional subtext of Angelou’s interactions with other people.

People in California were accommodating, there existed “well-meaning white people,” which are few and far between when Angelou moves to New York. Her connections in the Harlem Writers’ Group lead her into a society composed entirely of black people, among whom there is no lack of hostility towards whites. Guy continues to grow and value his intelligence, something that we see developing even in the first few pages of the novel, when Angelou mentions that Guy would rather be reading or playing a word game than listening to Billie Holiday sing him a “goodnight song” (Angelou, 13). Later, when Maya and Guy have moved to New York, the pair find that values have changed, and life is much more political.

Angelou’s encounters with New York literary geniuses are limited mainly to the circle of writers she meets in Harlem. Throughout the book, it is evident that Angelou’s life experience has been mostly in the black community, although one realizes this only as an afterthought. The richness of her life and the depth of the people she encounters are portrayed without recourse to stereotyping or defeatist descriptions of black urban culture. This culture is another central theme of the book, and Angelou chooses to depict it as parallel in every way to “white culture”; by ‘culture’ I mean art, literature, dance, and music. The fine arts in the black community do not suffer from oppression by racist elements, but they are tools of political expression in New York in ways that they were not in California. At least for Angelou, confronting her own political reality leads to a revolution in the form of her self-expression. Need related academic paper? Order it at PhDify.com.

After coming to New York and falling in love with, first, a bail bondsman, and then a South African activist fleeing Apartheid, Angelou finds herself a writer rather than a singer or dancer. Her new husband, Make (or “Vus,” short for Vusumzi), is a source of conflict between herself and Guy, but his fight appeals to the dream of political efficacy that she has developed throughout her life. Before leaving with Vus for London and Cairo, Angelou participates in a production of Jean Genet’s “The Blacks,” in which she finds a desire, and later an aptitude, for fiction. Genet’s play is able to convey a political message by creating absurd situations that point out the absurdity of racism. While Angelou admires this technique, she is much more direct in her approach to the audience. However, this could be because she can justifiably assume that her audience knows that racism is absurd.

The last part of the memoirs concerns the building realization that Angelou must become a writer in order to purge herself of her past, to make a new future for herself, not bound by responsibilities to others, but choosing to be part of a community in which positive thinking can overcome the daily oppressions that we encounter. After realizing that Vus treated her as an object, and not as another person, Angelou leaves him, and returns to New York. Rebuilding her life without a man to rely on is part of Angelou’s development into the woman she is today, though she sees, in herself and other women, the seeds of negativity, of internalized oppression, and of defeatism.

Her work in the civil rights movement was based in a positive dream for the future, not in anger against oppressive racism. Throughout the book, Angelou portrays racists as either absurd or misguided, never characterizing them as evil, and never allowing them to invade her own peace of mind. This unshakeable peace of mind is only disrupted by her ongoing concern for her son. Guy’s departure for college is the closing scene of the book, and no more appropriate event could bring closure to this middle chapter of Angelou’s life story. Letting her son out into the world on his own is an act of Angelou’s own confidence that the world is a better place, and that her son is strong enough to make his way through it.

  • Angelou, Maya. Heart of a Woman. New York: Bantam, 1997. 

The Geography and History of Newmarket England

The history of Newmarket is inextricably linked with the history of horse racing. Situated in Suffolk, in the east of England (roughly 50 miles northeast of London), the town of Newmarket was established as a market where local producers, farmers, artisans, and other merchants could meet weekly and sell their wares. Before the 1600s, there was little that distinguished Newmarket from the other market towns and villages that were scattered about the English countryside.

During the reign of King Charles II, however, Newmarket’s stature was raised. Being located near to Cambridge, one of the two centres of the intelligentsia in England, nobles, dons, intellectuals, the gentry, and others of significance frequently passed through Newmarket on their way from London to Cambridge. Charles II, as a horse enthusiast, established racing stables at Newmarket in 1660, which immediately made Newmarket more than a two-horse town. The historical ‘market’ orientation of the town was almost completely lost in the shadows of horse racing and its associated trades. In other words, its function changed from that of a market town selling local produce from the Suffolk, East Anglia, and Cambridgeshire region to one that was almost exclusively oriented towards horse racing. Perhaps it could be said that the orientation of Newmarket’s market quickly changed. But even in that case, people around the country knew little about Newmarket in terms of its uniqueness as a market; but knew plenty about its position as the Royal’s preferred location for horse racing.

Over the centuries, racing strengthened its position as an integral part of Newmarket’s economy. During the later 17th century and early 18th centuries, several principal races were established that kept an ongoing stream of racing enthusiasts closeby to Newmarket for much of the year. Four of these historical races continue to be run: the One Thousand Guineas, the Two Thousand Guineas, the Cambridgeshire, and the Ceasarewitch. Most of these courses are run on the Newmarket Heath, one of which is crossed by the ancient ‘Devil’s Dyke’, which is famous in history. Probably the biggest booster to the town’s development was the establishment of the Jockey Club, which still has complete authority over horse racing in England. This respected institution gave Newmarket a permanent and important place on the map of England, at least in horse racing circles. It also consolidated the town’s economic orientation towards horse racing.

In terms of its geography, it remains somewhat of a mystery why Newmarket was selected over other surrounding areas by Charles II. In the 17th century, Newmarket was widely considered to be a pleasant little town, but there was nothing particularly attractive about it. The land around Newmarket was no more flat or suitable for horse racing than the nearby areas of Duxford, Thetford, Bury, or even Cambridge itself. Perhaps the logic behind the decision was that Newmarket was on the main road between Cambridge and London and was a popular stopping, or resting, place on the journey. Being slightly outside of Cambridge (6 miles) also gave the area proximity to a significant town but enough privacy to keep away undesirables. The gentry could race their horses in peace, and retire to the comfort of Cambridge for the evening.

In any case, the town has managed to keep true to its racing roots. It remains a small town with a population of only some 16,000. Despite its small size, however, it is well known both in England and abroad for its position as home of the jockey club, and in more recent years, for its horse racing museum.

The differences between Wales and England (specifically the physical and human geography of each and how Wales is different from England economically and politically based on its geographic diversity.

Understanding the differences between Wales and England requires at least a brief understanding of English history. While it is impossible to do it any justice here, it must at least be mentioned that the roots of the difference between modern Wales and England go back to at least the time of the Celtic invasions between 6 and 1 BC. In more modern history, the existence of the feudal system has also left its mark. In any case, the primary historical differences between Wales and England is that, though they have been under a common throne since 1536, they are separate countries. The United Kingdom is the tie that binds, but with nationalist political parties increasing their popularity in Wales, it is unlikely that the strength of the bond will last.

Putting history aside for the moment, a vastly different geography is one thing that distinguishes Wales and England. With the exception of the far northwest, England generally consists of lowlands and plains that are well suited to grazing livestock and agricultural production. Wales, in contrast, is mountainous, rugged, and only the southern portion, which is not coincidentally also the most populated, is well suited for agricultural or industrial development.

In England, the main industrial and commercial areas are the great conurbations. London, as both the capital and largest city, is by far the most important financial, commercial, and manufacturing city in the country. However, the vestiges of the industrial revolution have not been lost altogether. England’s industrial heartland remains at least loosely intact. Metal goods, vehicles, aircraft, synthetic fibers, and electronic equipment are made in the West Midlands conurbation, and the cities of Coventry, Leicester, and Birmingham are the largest centres in the area. Farther north, the Greater Manchester area is well known for its cotton and synthetic textiles, coal, and chemical industries, and is also a major transportation and warehousing center. Liverpool, Britain’s second port, along with Southport and Saint Helens are in Merseyside county, also in the north of the country, are important primarily for their port access and warehousing facilities. West Yorkshire, including the cities of major cities of Leeds and Bradford are still England’s textile capitals, well known for woolen, worsted, and other textile production. To the northeast, Tyne and Wear county, has Newcastle upon Tyne as its center and Durham as the main cities. This area is rich in coal, and is oriented towards the heavier industries of steel, electrical engineering, chemical, and shipbuilding and repair industries. The location of industry in Britain has not changed all that much since the industrial revolution period, though regions have made concerted efforts to diversify themselves to create more dynamic economies.

This array of geographic diversity has helped promote England to be one of the world’s leading industrial nations. This could not have come about, however, without strong trading ties to the rest of the world. England lacks many of the raw materials needed for its industrial production. It has abundant supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas. Production of oil from offshore wells in the North Sea began in 1975, and by the end of the 1970s the country was self-sufficient in petroleum. Other important resources are iron ore, tin, limestone, salt, china clay, oil shale, gypsum, and lead. However, the expanse of its industries makes it a net importer of many industrial inputs. Given its population of roughly 50 million in contrast to its relatively small size (94,000 sq. miles), England is also a net importer of foodstuffs. It is virtually selfsufficient in dairy goods and poultry, but otherwise must import roughly 40% of its foodstuffs. Balancing the trade account is therefore very important, and also difficult, for Britain.

In sum, manufacturing industries account for about a quarter of its gross domestic product, followed by financial industries, trade, transportation and communications, services, construction, mining and public utilities, and agriculture. Service industries employ about 60% of the workforce, while manufacturing accounts for just over 25%. As in most other advanced economies, there is a strong and growing trend towards more service orientation. This has had a significant effect on the industrial heartland of the country, especially in the West Midlands and Tyne and Wear areas. Nevertheless, there are still several manufacturers that are growing. Solid industries include machine tools; electric power, automation, and railroad equipment; ships; motor vehicles and parts; aircraft; electronic and communications equipment; metals; chemicals; petroleum; coal; food processing; paper and printing; textile; and clothing. Since the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1973, its exports have been directed towards the European Union, specifically towards France, Germany, and the Netherlands. However, it still maintains good trading links and a ‘special relationship’ with North America as one of its former colonies. Its European proximity, therefore, has affected its trading and political relationships.

Looking to Wales, it is immediately clear to see that there are major differences. First of all, the population of Wales is roughly 3 million in contrast to England’s 50 million. Secondly, the landscape of Wales is not very well suited for extensive settlement. The Welsh are proud to admit that their geography puts them off of the so-called beaten track. To use very crude terms, it is rough, wild, mountainous, and watery. Even a quick glance at any topographical map will clearly show that England and Wales have little in common in terms of their geography. A quick visit to Wales will also provide undeniable proof that the aggressiveness of the landscape has rubbed off on its populace. Cymru, Welsh for Wales, is proudly boasted as unique to England. In fact, sharing money and a border with England is more than most Welsh are willing to accept. There is a very distinct animosity, and a growing push towards Welsh nationalism. The ancient tensions of Celts vs. Romans remains strong to this day.

In terms of industrial location, the Welsh conurbation is highly concentrated in the southern counties of West Glamorgan, South Glamorgan, and Gwent. The major urban areas, Swansea, Cardiff, and Newport, are the major urban areas, and all of them have traditionally been centres for coal mining and steel manufacturing. Many of these primary industries were hit very hard in the 1970s because of economic shocks and unemployment levels have increased sharply as a result. In more recent years, the Welsh economy has, like England, become more service oriented. However, oil refining, metals production (lead, zinc, nickel, and aluminum), and synthetic fibre production are all growing industries. Particularly interesting to note is Wales’ growing high technology sector. Wales has developed a strong information technology and electronics bias, mostly as an effort to diversify its industrial base against the vagaries of the international market. It also demonstrates that, although it is relatively small, Wales retains a forward looking outlook towards its economy. If it is to increase its nationalist tendencies, building a viable independent economy is of the utmost importance. It has made significant steps towards this end.

In sum, it is not outright overstatement to say that the geographies of England and Wales are diametrically opposed. Wales runs along the northwestern flank of England like a spine on an otherwise smooth back. Not surprisingly, this diversity has created differences between the English and the Welsh that are not easy to overcome. Though peaceful cohabitation has been possible since 1536, and could probably continue well into the future, it is being realized that the rewards are not worth the pains. Socially, politically, geographically, and economically, England and Wales are distinct. Since the resolve to overlook these distinctions is diminishing, regional autonomy seems to be all but a foregone conclusion.

Explain how demand for regional autonomy is a growing force in politics in the United Kingdom despite the increasing economic cultural and political convergence throughout Europe.

Devolution has been a prominent theme in UK politics for the past several years. While conflicts between Welsh and Scottish nationalists and the English parliamentary system have been tense for far longer, things have finally come to a head. Scotland and Wales are getting their own parliaments. The British government is devolving its authority to the countries regions.

The question that many ask is, why in an era of increasing convergence throughout Europe is Britain coming apart at its seams? The answer, it seems, is that Britain is not coming apart at the seams, but simply becoming more manageable. From a European perspective, in fact, devolution is actually a positive thing that is very compatible with increasing integration. Separate parliaments for Scotland, Wales, and England mean that democracy will be closer to the people. This is in line with the subsidiarity principle that underlies the governance of the EU. Much of the polity in Scotland and Wales have long felt underrepresented under English representation, and now with a chance to represent themselves, there is an opportunity for the democratic deficit to be reduced. Devolution, in other words, is quite in line with the trend towards economic, cultural, and political convergence throughout Europe. The EU is, after all, based on the concept of a Europe of regions.

As a consequence of devolution, 8 regional economic development agencies are now operating to even out the sharp economic disparities and social inequalities in England. This is in addition to the separately elected parliaments of Scotland and Wales and their own unique development agencies. Many are now optimistic about the future. The Greater London area is among the richest regions in Europe, while areas like Wales, South Yorkshire and Cornwall are vying for the poorest regions of Europe along with rural Spain and Greece. Many argue that dysfunctional government has been responsible for these disparities. A move towards devolution can give each region a better chance at getting its voice heard. Many regions are quick to point out the success of Wales in guiding its own economic development in recent years. No doubt, if they can accomplish the same or better, devolution will turn out to be a positive sum game.

Having said that, however, there is also an argument that comparative advantage has come into play. This is something that no government is fully able to control. The decline in the north of England, for example, has largely been a result of decreased international demand for the wares of traditional mining and manufacturing industries. The same is true for the output of Wales. The success of London, and the aspiring success of Wales, are based on trends that show the dominance of international finance and high technology. Global economic forces have affected the commercial, industrial, and political landscape more than bad governance. While strong leadership and close business/government relations are required to forge ahead with prevailing trends, countless examples highlight the unpredictability of the global economy.

In short, devolution should not be seen as a divisive force that is breaking Britain apart. It was already broken a long time ago. Rather, it should be seen as an attempt to cooperate, pool resources, and bring decision making down to the most functional level. Beneath the surface, therefore, devolution is actually a clever strategy to promote increased cooperation. This is very much in line with the European trend towards cultural, economic, and political integration.  All types of writing tasks you can order at PhDify.com

Gene Therapy and Sports Performance

Gene Therapy and Sports Performance: The Implications of Sports Performance and New Hormone Deliveries

This paper is a critical examination of how athletic performance is affected through the use of gene therapy. The use of gene therapy is often done in order to cure or to aid in easing the symptoms of genetic defects such as muscular dystrophy, but some researchers are beginning to realize the potential of gene therapy in enhancing athletic performance. The basic concept is that gene therapy can be used to provide changes in muscular composition, which will either make muscle more dense (for strength) or will allow the muscles to fire more quickly (for speed). This paper will address the available theories on this particular form of gene therapy in order to assess the potential effects of gene therapy when used in such a manner.

The reason that gene therapy is considered to have significant implications in the field of athletics is that all athletic abilities are based in some form or another on the properties of muscles and the basic muscular structure of the athlete. (Verma & Somia: 1997) Muscle structure can be generally defined within two specific groups: Smooth muscles and striated muscles. Smooth muscles run the length of the physical structure and are designed for speed. Striated muscles run crossways over the structure and provide strength. Depending on the particular sport, smooth or striated muscles are developed and enhanced through practice and proper diet.

The muscle fibers on an athlete undergo a serious degree of change during periods of intense physical training. An athlete who uses a high- protein and high- fiber diet will experience immediate weight loss and muscle build if they are involved in a strength- training program. This type of program is seen as successful in literally tearing the existing fibers of the striated muscle groups. When the body recovers, in order to keep from suffering additional injury, these muscles heal in such a manner that they can support more weight in the future. A weight training program is therefore constant abuse on the striated muscles.

Similarly, athletes that wish for speed, rather than strength, require the development of the smooth muscle groups. These smooth muscles are developed though a straining process, where the constant repetition of actions – such as swimming or running – serve to strain the smooth muscles along the axis. This results in a demand on the muscles that calls for constant rapid movements. Over time and through practice, the body is able to provide more speed to the developing smooth muscles.

However, gene therapy in sports is gaining controversy in sporting committees, as the effects of muscle development and gene therapy indicate that there is serious potential for using gene therapy in sports. The current state of gene therapy is fairly primitive: The most general presentation is that cultured cells from one individual are injected into a target area on a different individual. (Ondrusek: 1993) The cells of the recipient are receptive to the injection and the existing cells tend to assimilate the traits found in the new cells.

Gene therapy in sports, therefore, might have serious implications. As of this date, no hormone supplements (such as steroids) are allowed for use in sporting events such as the Olympics. However, there are no regulations concerning gene therapy as a means of hormone supplementation. This means that cells from an individual who does take these hormones can be injected into the body of the Olympic athlete, and that athlete would legally be able to compete as they had not ingested or injected pure hormones. In addition, the results of delivering the same person’s cells back into their bodies is considered to be more beneficial than injecting the cells of a stranger: It is plausible that cells from an athlete can be removed and cultured, then inserted back into the body of that same person. One source noted: "You could take growth hormone or erythropoietin (EPO) from [a person's] cells and deliver it to the same person. Whether this is going on now, I don't know, but it is perfectly possible." (Maltin: 2000) The results of this gene therapy would be that the individual would gain all of the physical benefits from hormone use without illegally taking the hormones. (Gorman: 1998)

Gene therapy is therefore believed to be little more than the use of a modern hormone, and is seen to be controversial. Proponents of the use of gene therapy suggest that there is no reason for this process to not take place, as the athlete is merely receiving a supplement of human muscles. In addition, if the muscle group that is used is originally taken from the body of that same athlete, this seems to suggest that there is no grounds for dispute. After all, since some runners get a blood transfusion of their own blood immediately before a marathon, why should not a similar technique apply in the use of gene therapy? (Verma & Somia: 1997)

Opponents to gene therapy, however, argue that this is simply another way to get illegal hormones into the athlete. Hormones, such as steroids, often increase the performance of the athlete through artificially building the tissues of the striated fibers. In addition, steroids are cumulative, where the drug will increase performance if an athlete accepts the hormone before or during a workout. If this is the case with all hormones, isn’t gene therapy just a loophole in the laws of accepting hormones for performance enhancement? (Walters: 1991)

Currently, the use of gene therapy in athletics is not regulated. This is mainly believed to be the case through a lack of comprehensive legislation, and gene therapy will no doubt eventually be ceased in order to prevent a form of illegal hormone intake for competition athletes. However, at this time there are no means of detecting the presence of gene therapy in athletes, and unless this changes it is unknown how the athletes using gene therapy will be picked from the crowd.

Conclusion

  • Anderson, S. F. (1992). “Human gene therapy”. Science. 256: 808-813.
  • Gorman, C. (1998) “DNA therapy”. Time. (March 16) p. 37.
  • Maltin, L.J. (2000) “High-Tech Cheating: Gene Therapy to Boost Athletic Performance: IOC Officials Worry That the Next Wave of 'Doping' Will be Undetectable” WebMD Medical News. Avalable online at http://webmd.lycos.com/content/article/1728.61910
  • Ondrusek, N. (1993) “Ethical issues in gene therapy.” In Textbook of Ethics in Pediatric Research. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishers. 155-169.
  • Verma, I. M., and N. Somia. (1997). “Gene therapy — promises, problems and prospects”. Nature. 389: 239-242.
  • Walters, L. (1991) “Human gene therapy: ethics and public policy.” Human Gene Therapy. Summer; 2(2): 115-122.  

The American Disabilities Act and the “Total Institution”

The American Disabilities Act and the "Total Institution": How Colleges Aid Disabled Athletes

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) was put into effect on July 26, 1990. It was this country's first comprehensive civil rights law for individuals who suffer from physical and mental disabilities. Under the provisions of the ADA, exclusionary processes can no longer be legally applied to people who have disabilities, and the ADA provides grounds for financial or like compensation if exclusionary processes are put into practice.

The ADA affects all institutions and businesses, more so if they accept federal funding. In the case of higher educational institutions such as state universities, the ADA is promoted to the highest extent. In this type of university, the buildings must have access to individuals with physical handicaps, and programs of comparable abilities must be offered to those who both have and do not have any form of disability. (ADA: Section III) In other words, everyone is separate but equal under the ADA inclusionary practices.

This is likewise true in regards to inter-collegiate athletics. Long before the ADA was passed, the government ruled that college and other undergraduate learning institutions were discriminating on the basis of gender. It was found that when a funding allotment was given to athletics, the men's teams were the recipients of a significantly larger percentage of the funding. Thus, the men's teams had newer uniforms and equipment, were able to schedule practice time more easily, and had an overall more significant level of support from the institution's governing board. Such practices were found to be discriminatory in the 1980s, and the government ruled that all "federally funded sports programs must provide equal resources to male and female athletics, regardless of the actual demand". (Blumner: 6)

Currently, the ADA supports all inter-collegiate athletics programs. Under the provisions of the Act, all students with demonstrable disabilities who express a desire to participate in inter-collegiate athletics are encouraged under the ADA. Also, when a disabled student expresses interest, the sports department is supposed to make access to these sports as easy as possible. Access refers to ability to get to the arena, as well as being provided with equipment that can be used by a disabled individual. It also, and perhaps most importantly, encourages acceptance on the team on the part of those individuals who are not disabled.

However, there is some disagreement on the effectiveness of the ADA in relation to inter-collegiate athletics. Many proponents of the ADA feel that the Act was initiated to provide support for the disabled in a working or an academic environment, not in a sporting arena. Through funding inter-collegiate athletics for the disabled, the university is taking away from funding that could be better used for promoting equality in a classroom. While not keeping to the spirit of the ADA, this is a valid point and will be examined

This paper shall address the topic of inter-collegiate athletics in relation to the ADA. The main points that will be examined are the ADA in relation to physical disabilities and inter-collegiate athletics, the ADA in relation to mental disabilities and inter-collegiate athletics, and how the inclusion of disabled students in inter-collegiate athletics is affecting the performance of the teams. It is hoped that this examination of the ADA in relation to inter-collegiate athletics will help to demonstrate how the ADA is affecting sports performance in American collegiate athletics.

Physical Disabilities

When one thinks of disabilities, the images that first come to mind are those of some sort of physical impairment. This is a misleading stereotype, as the majority of those who have a disability and are enrolled in a higher-learning institution are suffering from some form of learning disability. Yet physical disabilities are not limited to actual visible impairments: They encompass a wide range of disabilities, including heart conditions, alcoholism, and arthritis. (Miller 140-141)

Those students that do fall under the provisions of the ADA have had to have been either treated for or diagnosed with conditions that result in some level of physical impairment. (ADA: Section II) The college or university has to have been made aware of this condition and to have acknowledged the student as being disabled. This process does not have had to occur at the time of admission, yet for the ADA to be activated the college must be informed about the student's condition and have acknowledged its existence. If this has not happened, the student is not eligible for inter-collegiate athletics under the provisions of the ADA.

While the ADA does not address how and when a student may participate in an athletic program, most of the institutions themselves do. The majority of colleges and universities that have inter-collegiate teams require that the student undergo a medical examination by a physician or nurse employed by the school. Should the student be unfit to participate in sports, the examiner is required to decline their admission to the program.

This examination is not a discriminatory process. Students, whether they are disabled or not, are under the general protection of the school. Should something happen to the student that was avoidable, the school is liable. Thus, while a student signs a waver excusing the school should they become seriously injured on the field or in the arena, such injuries are anticipated as a part of sports. Yet should a student collapse because they were allowed to play sports even though they had a serious heart condition, the school is then at fault. Therefore, all medical examinations are to ensure that those students who do participate in inter-collegiate athletics will not hurt themselves as a result of their disabilities.

This results in a fine line between discrimination and unwillingness to accept liability for a student. Take the example of a visually impaired student who wants to play football. The student might be in perfect health and might be able to see to a certain extent, but the college doubts whether the student would be able to play under the conditions found on a football field. The college must then make a decision as to whether to allow the student to play. Should the student play and become injured as a result of his disability, the college is at fault for allowing him to play. Yet not allowing him to play for the same reason might qualify as discrimination, as the student is fit in all other ways.

The ADA is therefore considered a double-edged act, where those places that are targeted as discriminatory are perhaps only trying to uphold their best interests in excluding the disabled. This is obviously much less true in the office than in collegiate sports, where there is less inherent danger. However, the college has to try to see which is more valuable… the welfare of the student or the threat of a discriminatory lawsuit. The welfare of the student almost always is of the highest importance, yet colleges are nevertheless frightened of a possible lawsuit.

A journalist named Kathi Wolfe, who has been visually impaired for her entire life, summed up this potential ability to press charges on grounds of discrimination in saying:

" I used to dream of a law that would dispel prejudice toward folks like me. Now, despite the good it does, the ADA is becoming a nightmare. If people don't stop using it to clog up the courts and excuse incompetence, the Americans With Disabilities Act will wind up reinforcing the discrimination it was designed to eradicate." (Wolfe: C1)

Mental Disabilities

The ADA has recently gained media attention due to the recent settlement between the Justice Department and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). This settlement was reached after standards regarding the acceptance of incoming freshmen to most state universities was met with testing for learning disabilities. Such testing was found to be discriminatory and therefore illegal. These eligibility requirements were targeted to find students that primarily suffered from dyslexia and other reading disabilities. These standards were long maintained by the NCAA, to the point where the U.S. government decided to address this organization on the grounds of abject discrimination.

"Thirteen years ago the people who run intercollegiate sports set out to get a handle on the problem of undereducated — and occasionally even illiterate — college athletes by setting national academic standards that students would have to meet to participate in varsity sports during their freshman year. It was a good thing to do, but since then, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has learned that setting standards isn't as easy as it might seem. The NCAA has been accused of, among other things, meddling in high school curriculums (because of its rules on what courses athletes are to take) and of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (on grounds the standards discriminated against students with learning disabilities)". (Post: A16)

It was felt that those students who wanted to go on from high school to pursue a college sports scholarship would need to take certain classes in order to fulfill the initial requirements of the college of their choice. However, students who suffered from learning disabilities, yet who still wanted to attend college, were limited in their academics. Because of the standards set by the NCAA, students that had any form of learning problem were therefore automatically passed over by the NCAA select board.

Incoming freshmen were the foremost target of such practices. While these students could excel at certain aspects of academics, their shortcomings automatically excluded them from the team. Many students who entered a particular college or university based solely on their inter-collegiate athletics program found themselves not even considered for the team.

One student at Lynn University claimed that the school kept her off of the softball team because her SAT scores were below the average. (Cushing: C2) Ginger Wortley suffers from perceptual impairment, or a reading disability similar to dyslexia, where taking official coded tests is almost impossible. However, these coded tests are not a measure of her intelligence as Wortley is above the curve on IQ. Her lawyer states that:

"Given this kind of disability, the worst thing that you can have is something like an SAT, which is just an enormous row of little bubbles and page after page of tightly spaced, intentionally challengingly worded text,"

"Everyone agrees that if she had been given it orally, she certainly would have surpassed the SAT score requirement." (Ibid.)

Wortley's case, among others, were those that inspired the Justice Department to investigate the fairness found in the NCAA's testing procedures. In light of obviously intelligent students who were restricted from team or athletic play due to a learning disabilities, the Justice Department did extensive research into the case. They found that students were excluded from the team who had all manners of learning disabilities, from dyslexia to "test anxiety" (Autman: E1)

In May of 1998, the Justice Department determined that the NCAA was deliberately using these tests and academic standards to exclude certain individuals that the NCAA thought were unfit for their teams. It was found that not only were those students who suffered from learning disabilities targeted, but that AfricanAmerican and Latino students were also targeted. (Wolfe: C1) The NCAA was found to have used discrimination processes to keep every incoming freshmen they thought was "unfit" off of their teams. This was done through the ability to manipulate the test scores to demonstrate that almost any student who did not score within a certain percentage could be suffering from a learning disability. The NCAA took these results and applied them to those students they did not want to have on their teams.

The Justice Department determined that this was against the ADA, as well as several other anti-discrimination acts, and ordered the NCAA to change its policies on accepting incoming freshmen. Now, the NCAA's eligibility requirements include special education programs. However, this type of class will only count towards eligibility only if the high school has provided instruction to the learning disabled students that is comparable to all other students in the same school. (Ibid.) This means that the learning disabled students must have similar mental abilities (i.e. be as intelligent) as their classmates, and are only not able to compete academically due to their disability.

Conclusion

It is obvious that the Americans Disabilities Act has had a positive impact on the lives of the disabled. It has removed the discriminatory practices that were found in both the workplace and in much of general society.

However, in terms of inter-collegiate athletics, the ADA has had varied effects. Many of the changes initiated by the ADA are difficult to apply to sports, especially when it appears that the health of the athlete might be negatively impacted. There is a fine line between enabling a physically disabled athlete and placing him or her into danger.

For students who suffer from mental disabilities, most commonly found in the educational system in the form of learning disabilities, discrimination in athletics presents a different sort of challenge. Here, students who suffer from learning disabilities have until recently been kept from participating in sports due to a series of test and grade standards imposed by the NCAA. (San Diego Union-Tribune: C4) These tests were found to be discriminatory in nature, and designed to keep certain students from participating in sports.

The future of the ADA in relation to inter-collegiate athletics isn't known, nor can it be predicted. As the ADA currently stands, it will possibly take a landmark ruling to affect its formation in any way. This occurred in the NCAA/Justice Department verdict in 1998. It is not expected to occur at any time in the near future, as all pending athletics cases do not appear of the type to set precedent.

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Bibliography

  • Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook. Published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice. October 1991.
  • Autman, Samuel. "Courts ponder a response to test anxiety". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 4, 1998, Sunday. Pg. E1.
  • Blumner, Robyn. "The high cost of complete equality: freedom". Journal of Commerce. December 28, 1999, Tuesday. p6.
  • Chambers, Marcia. "An Athlete Challenges a Stealthy Rule". The New York Times. November 19, 1997, Wednesday. pg B11.
  • Cushing, Doran. "Player sues over SAT". St. Petersburg Times. February 28, 1998, Saturday. pg. 2C
  • Hodge, Samuel R. "Prospective Physical Education Teachers' Attitudes Toward Teaching Students with Disabilities". Physical Educator. Vol 55. No. 2. Spring 1998. p68-77
  • Miller, Richard I. Major American Higher Education Issues and Challenges in the 21st Century. Published by the Higher Education Policy Series. No. 42.
  • "ADA reaches into athletics". The San Diego Union-Tribune. June 07, 1998, Sunday. pg C4
  • "Students and athletes". The Washington Post. March 15, 1999, Monday. pg A16.
  • Wolfe, Kathi. "Handicapped by a Law That Helps". The Washington Post. July 26, 1998, Sunday, pgC1 

Art and Pop Art

This page paper discusses art and pop art, and distinguishes between the two by noting the characteristics of each form. As examples of each, two works of Andy Warhol are compared and contrasted to Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” and Rembrandt’s “Syndic of the Clothmaker’s Guild.

Pop art is a form of modern painting in which commonplace objects such as soup cans, hamburgers, and road signs are used as subject matter and are in some cases even physically incorporated into the actual work itself. Pop art is perhaps best defined by the notable works of pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselman, and James Rosenquist of the United States, and by Peter Blake and David Hockney of Great Britain. (Honnef 81)

The paintings of these pop artists were distinguished by their portrayal of familiar aspects of popular culture taken from comic books, television, movie magazines, and common forms of advertising. The artists presented their subjects boldly and objectively, without emotional overtones, but with a powerful sense of immediacy, in a manner strikingly similar to the commercial techniques used by the media from which the iconography itself was borrowed.

Pop art became culturally popular in Great Britain and the United States primarily because of its close relationship with common social situations most of the general public could identify with, and because its easily comprehensible images were quickly exploited by the mass media. Although unimpressed critics of pop art dismissed it with contempt as vulgar, sensational, and lacking in aesthetic qualities, its many admirers considered it a form of art that was truly democratic and nondiscriminatory, and which presented an honest artistic product that traditional art connoisseurs and the untrained public could both appreciate. ( Hanson 287)

Some of the more striking forms of pop art were Andy Warhol’s meticulously literal paintings and silk-screen prints of commonly known soup-can labels, laundry soap cartons, and rows of soft-drink bottles. Most pop artists aspired to an impersonal, urbane, and culturally sophisticated style in their works, but some examples of pop art were subtly expressive vehicles of social criticism.

For example, Andy Warhol’s monotonous repetitions of the same banal image have an undeniably disturbing emotional effect on the viewer, which apparently was the intent of the artist. Other forms of pop art, in contrast, are overtly expressionistic in nature.

American pop art tended to be emblematic, rather anonymous, and aggressive, and generally dealt with modern technology and popular culture as common themes. Some American pop artists, Andy Warhol most notably, actually seemed to live these ideas. Warhol declared, for example, that he thought everybody should be a machine, and attempted in his distinctive style of pop art to produce works that a machine would have made.

Another observation of his, that everyone would win their own fifteen minutes of fame, seems to me an accurate commentary upon the short lifespan of pop art. It lasted longer than fifteen minutes, but not by much.

In contrast to pop art and its typical manifestations, art is primarily defined and identified by its timelessness and aesthetic appeal. For example, great art can be understood and held in high esteem by people from many generations and across various boundaries of culture and ethnicity because of its broad human appeal, while pop art is by its very nature far more reliant upon a prospective audience’s familiarity with the particular cultural aspects of the work.

For example, Warhol’s painting of a Campbell’s Tomato Soup can may inspire nostalgic memories or other typical emotional reactions in the soul of many an American of the latter half of the Twentieth Century, but it would probably be stared at in mute bewilderment by someone from three centuries in the future. A visitor to an art gallery in Paris in 2356 would not share a post World War Two American’s familiarity with the object in question and would very likely be at a loss to understand the point of the painting.

A timeless work of art painted by a master artist such as Leonardo da Vinci or Rembrandt Van Rijn however, would be easily interpreted by viewers seperated by hundreds of years. The visual content would be universally understood, the emotions evoked would be universally felt, and the aesthetics of the work would be universally appreciated. (Hagen and Hagen 191)

For example, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” is among the most famous paintings in the world. The composition of the scene is masterful; the dramatic power of this timeless painting comes from the striking contrast in the attitudes of the twelve disciples as counterposed to Christ. It is significant that Da Vinci portrayed the moment of highest emotional tension when all of the Apostles except Judas Iscariot are agitated, while Christ, conscious of his divine mission, sits in lonely, transfigured serenity. (Wasserman 201)

That Paris art gallery visitor of 2356 would understand at once the timeless theme of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” He or she would also note with appreciation the emotional and visual content of the painting, and would likely consider the work aesthetically pleasing. He or she would be able to relate completely to the human drama of Da Vinci’s scene and appreciate the relationships displayed and the emotions involved by simply looking upon the vivid expressions on the faces of the subjects being portrayed.

In contrast, another pop art work of Andy Warhol’s, “100 Cans”, is simply a painting of one-hundred Campbell’s soup cans, stacked atop one another to make a square ten soup cans wide and ten soup cans tall. Apparently born of the shaky philosophy that if one Campbell’s soup can painting can be a commercial pop art success, a painting of one-hundred Campbell’s soup cans would have to be considered a masterpiece and attain immortal fame, this pop art painting is perhaps one of the best examples of the nature of pop art.

In stark contrast to Warhol’s soup can motif, Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Clothmaker’s Guild” is another example of the expressive power, aesthetic quality, and timeless nature of great art. One of the great Dutch portrait painters, Rembrandt portrayed his four subjects during a quality or classification meeting. He depicts them as steeled professionals in the process of contemplating a question for which samples have been provided. The dramatic nature of this meeting is evident, since the subjects were well aware that any decision rendered by them at such a gathering would affect the textile trade worldwide, since at this point in history, Dutch commercial connections had no peer. (Bonafoux 55)

As in Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Clothmaker’s Guild” is an expression of great art at its height of power and accomplishment. The subjects are rendered in exquisite detail, an emotional statement is made, and the human element provides a powerful focus.

I chose this famous Rembrandt work for discussion primarily because of its high artistic quality and timeless nature, but also because it shares a somewhat detached but ironic relationship with the commercially focused 1960’s pop art of Andy Warhol. The scene originally portrayed by Rembrandt in Seventeenth Century Holland was made famous in a commercial sense all across mid-Twentieth Century America by its reproduction on the cover of the old “Dutch Masters” cigar box.

In conclusion, art and pop art differ from one another in two very distinctive ways. True great art has an inherently timeless appeal and is aesthetically pleasing to a vast audience, while pop art is quite limited in appeal and is reliant on a specific audience and a particular context in time and location. Great art can be understood and held in high esteem by people from many generations and across various boundaries of culture and ethnicity because of its broad human appeal, while pop art by its very nature depends upon a prospective audience’s familiarity with the particular cultural aspects of the work.

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Bibliography

  • Bonafoux, Pascal. Rembrandt: Master of the Portrait. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992.
  • Hagen, Rose-Marie, and Hagen Rainer. What Great Paintings Say: Old Masters in Detail. New York: Taschen America, 2000.
  • Hanson, H. W. History of Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999.
  • Honnef, Klaus. Andy Warhol 1928-1987: Commerce into Art. New York: Taschen America, 2000.
  • Warhol, Andy. Popism: The Warhol ‘60’s. New York: Harcourt-Brace, 1990.
  • Wasserman, Jack. Leonardo Da Vinci. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1984.    

Birth of the Modern World: 1400-1700

Abstract

The period in history ranging roughly from the years 1400 to 1700 saw great changes around the world, but particularly in Europe, where the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance, and even the Great Plague took place. In this paper, we will briefly examine the period and evaluate historians’ claims that it was indeed the birth of the modern world.

During the so-called “Dark Ages,” literature, the arts and other creative endeavors faded into virtual oblivion. For many centuries, up to roughly the 15th century, there was little advancement in culture worldwide. Then, things began changing – slowly at first, but with an increasing urgency that once again saw the world open itself to new ideas and advances in art, technology and other aspects of life that had not been seen for so many years.

The Early Renaissance

Perhaps of the primary causes of the Renaissance was, ironically, the most devastating plague ever to strike the world. Called the “Black Death,” this massive outbreak of bubonic plague leveled about half the population of Europe between the years 1350 and 1450. The plague caused a serious economic depression in Europe, and everyone from tradesmen to merchants suffered enormous financial losses (Renaissance, online).

It would seem this was scarcely a good beginning to the explosion of culture, the arts, and exploration that was to take place, but Europe managed to rebuild its population. By the middle of the 15th century, great things were being accomplished across the continent. The cities saw a resurgence in both population and in crafts, a new middle class of bankers, merchants and others emerged, and the market for goods and services grew rapidly and steadily for the next 300 years (Renaissance, online).

Dawn of a New Age

Historians who claim that the three-century period we are discussing was really the beginning of modern life have much strength for their argument. Indeed, at no time in human history prior to the Renaissance were there such major developments.

The Renaissance, for example, produced some of the greatest artists of all time, including Leonardo daVinci, Michaelangelo, Titian, and a host of others. Their immortal works not only survive today, but are still greatly admired (Renaissance, online).

The invention of the printing press in the 15th century revolutionized the books that were produced. No longer did the world have to depend on laboriously hand-copied volumes; thanks to Gutenberg, the first foray into mass production of a product had taken place (Funk & Wagnalls, 435).

This also was the age of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Milton and other literary giants. And in the 17th century two of the greatest composers of all time, Bach and Handel, produced music that has more than endured the test of time (Funk & Wagnalls, 435).

The Reformation

Not all the major changes belonged to culture or the arts; religion also saw radical changes. In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a church and started the Reformation, a religious movement that formed what we now call the Protestant church. At around the same time, John Calvin and John Knox took to the Protestant movement and brought forth their theories from their home bases in Geneva (Calvin) and Scotland (Knox (The Reformation, online).

The Thirty Years’ War

While the explosion of revival in arts, literature and religion was occurring, so were wars. The famous Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was both the last religious war and the first modern war. It was religious in the sense that it pitted Catholics against Protestants, but also modern because it pitted two opposing political ideologies against each other. The Catholic Habsburgs in Bohemia and the Protestant Czechs went to battle. The Protestant side was aided by Denmark and Sweden, while the Catholics were assisted by French forces. France, in the end, emerged as the dominant power in Europe, a position it would hold for more than a century (Funk & Wagnalls, 434).

Exploration and Discovery

Let us not forget the great explorers of the period we are discussing. Vaso de Gama, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan all made important discoveries and also helped launch a commercial seagoing merchant revolution. Their bold exploits led to the first settlers to the New World leaving England on the Mayflower and founding a new colony which was to become the United States of America. Little did the three explorers mentioned above dream that their voyages of discovery would lead to the founding of the most powerful nation on Earth (Funk & Wagnalls, 432).

It Was a New Birth

Given the tremendous advances in culture and the arts, in exploration and even the upheavals in religion and politics, we can definitely side with the historians who say the period from 1400 to 1700 was one that launched the modern world. Though not all the advancements were positive (the wars, for instance), the Renaissance, the Reformation, the explorations, and the technological advancements that occurred in that 300-year time period opened doors where previously no doors had even existed. The three-century period changed forever the way people lived, and evolution in every area of human existence continues to evolve today and will do so forever. Useful information? Go to our academic writing services and get your unique paper online

Works Cited

  • Bram, Leon, & Dickey, Norma (eds.), Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, v. 9, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Co., 1986
  • “The Reformation,” online at http://198.248.56.50/~jjackson/reform.html
  • “Renaissance: Out of the Middle Ages,” online at www.learner.org/exhibits/renaissance/middleages.html 

Thanks to God and the Revolution

This book reveals how the peasant Lopez family becomes politicized. In many respects, no Nicaraguan has a choice, since the politics of Nicaragua make people take sides. Thus, the members of the Lopez family have no choice but to participate in the politics of the country. The Sandinista revolution polarizes the family, as each member has a different view of what Somoza represented and what the Sandinistas represented.

It is not difficult to understand why the Lopez family was so politicized. The history of the country makes it necessary for every Nicaraguan to know what is going on in the country. Nicaragua is, after all, the largest of the Central American republics.

U.S. imperialism has done much harm to this Central American country, especially through the reality of the Contra war, which the U.S. supported and conducted throughout the 1980s. To be sure, the Contra war left an indelible mark on the Nicaraguan personality. The history of Nicaragua is a story about American support of authoritarianism and of civil war. Nicaraguans know what the U.S. was doing.

As author Benjamin Keen has noted, "the United States had long avowed that it would not allow a successful socialist, antiimperialist revolution in its Caribbean backyard, a part of the world that for a century had been a secure U.S. preserve." (Keen, p.403) The violence that has been exported from the United States in this effort has had a drastic impact on the Nicaraguan people. Thus, it has also obviously affected the Lopez family.

Thanks to God and the Revolution begins with accounts of the late Somoza years and goes through the 1979 revolution. It ends its tale in 1987. This was three years before the Sandinistas finally lost their power. The Lopez family consists of elderly Dona Maria Lopez, who clearly hopes to avoid politics. She is a simple woman and tries not to get involved in the politics of the country. Nonetheless, she loves her children very much and this translates into a respect for their views and strong feelings about the politics of the country. She feels their passion and she therefore remains sympathetic to what her children experience and how they see the world.

It is interesting that Dona Maria Lopez respects the passion of her children, since passion is one thing all Nicaraguans have. What U.S. historian Ralph Woodward has written about Central Americans might have very well been written for the Nicaraguans.

Fatalism, he wrote, may well be a part of their national mentality, tempering their attitudes toward the future. Death and tragedy always seem close in Central America. The primitive states of communication, transportation, and production, and the insecurity of human life, have been the major determinants in the region's history…" (Goodwin, p.39)

United States imperialism has not, to say the least, helped in this matter. This is why Lopez has the right instinct that her children are political for a reason. She has passion as well, but through her children. Overall, she remains apolitical.

Nicaragua was ruled by members of the powerful Somoza family from 1937 until 1979, with full American backing and support. The Somoza dictatorship brutalized the Nicaraguan people and socially constructed a system in which the minority of the people owned a majority of the nation's wealth. In July 1979, a revolution led by the Sandinista front of National Liberation toppled the Somoza dynasty. (Keen, p.405) The new leaders set the stage for social and economic changes that were revolutionary for Latin America. The Americans were severely troubled by this development. But many Nicaraguans understood what was going on.

One of these Nicaraguans who saw the U.S. efforts to exploit Nicaragua was Dona Maria Lopez's daughter Leticia. She perceives what has been wrong with the American policy toward Nicaragua, just as she sees that the Sandinistas have no choice but to do what they do to survive. Thus, Leticia is a Sandinista collaborator. She does everything she can to support the Sandinista government. She also is very articulate, and she argues vehemently for the survival of the revolution.

The Reagan State Department claimed that the Sandinista government in Nicaragua was funnelling Soviet and Cuban arms to the Salvadoran rebels. The administration’s response was to mobilize guerrilla bands of disgruntled Nicaraguans, soon called "Contras". (Guillermoprieto, p.38) Along with outcast Miskito Indians and disillusioned democratic elements in Nicaragua, the CIA embraced cadres of former National Guardsmen and other supporters of Somoza. United States and Honduras forces engaged in joining military ventures just over the Nicaraguan border. The adminstration's hidden agenda, it soon became clear, was not only to interdict arms for El Salvador, but to overthrow the Sandinistas. Offer dissertation writing help at PhDify.com

Other members of the Lopez family perceive all of these politics. Leticia's half-sister and half-brother, Marta and Omar, are active in the revolution. They are employed in Sandinista agencies. There begins to be great tragedy in the story, as the family members slowly but surely begin to realize the weakness and the fragile nature of the revolutionary culture. They love the revolution, but they see that it is falling apart.

All in all, Thanks to God and the Revolution: the Oral History of a Nicaraguan family is a very moving and sad book. It shows how the Americans make life impossible for the Nicaraguan people. That is why the critics of Reagan's anti-Sandinista policy are right. They have argued that American involvement ensured that the Marxist forces in Central America would emerge as victorious representatives of local nationalism against American imperialism. They were ultimately right: by opposing the desire for social justice, the Americans alienated the Sandinista regime.

But overall, the Sandinista culture could not withstand the contra war and the American pressure. The politics divided every family, including the Lopez family. Everyone in this book felt the effects of war, and also began to understand that the U.S. will not allow self-determination for peoples.

Bibliography

  • Keen, Benjamin (ed.) Latin American Civilization. History and Society, 1492 to the Present (Bovido Westview Press, 1991) in Yellow Course Reader.
  • Goodwin, Paul. Latin America; Fifth Edition (Guilford, Connecticut, 1992), p.39.
  • Guillermoprieto, Alma. The Heart That Bleeds; Latin America Now (New York, Vintage, 1994)
  • Hart, Dianne. Thanks God and the Revolution: the Oral History of a Nicaraguan Family (New York: Cahners Publishing Co., 1990). 7 The Role and Consequence of U.S. Intervention in Nicaragua 8