Literary Theories Jehlens Gender and Appiahs Race

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Literature

Document 1

In addition, Kwame Anthony Appiah has specific opinions about the existence of race and the role it plays towards reading and writing about literature. Thinking about gender and race when writing and reading literature is crucial for various reasons. This essay will explore Myra Jehlen’s opinions about gender and illustrate Kwame Appiah’s opinions about race and how thinking about the two elements is vital for reading and writing about literature. Myra Jehlen analyzes the concept of gender with reference to literature. In this case, Jehlen explores the aspect of sexual identity, precisely concepts of femininity and masculinity. Through this perspective, conceptualization of gender is formed from the historical culture and setting. Jehlen holds that writers of various literary genres in the community shape both gender description and interpretation in their specific works.

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They present literature as a symbolic device and an aspect which shapes the society. Hence, gender is depicted as a contextual element. In the constructionist viewpoint about gender, Jehlen presents an association between sex and gender. At this point, Jehlen attempts to fight against the binaries put forth by Huck and Loftus. As a result, Jehlen (268), demonstrates that sexual orientations should not be the background of gender identity in the society. Based on Jehlen’s writing, from Huck and Loftus, the dichotomy of nature and nurture with those of gender and sex becomes clear. Also, Jehlen has applied the characters to illustrate the dynamics of the concept of gender. This illustrates that there are limitations to Jehlen’s approaches of viewing gender and its contributions toward literature in the society.

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When arguing about the lack of races in the American society, Appiah starts by describing two broad theories of interpretation. First and foremost, the author presents the ideational viewpoint. This view holds that race encompasses grasping how individuals think about. In this case, it is all about what individual take to be the primary truths about races. It is also about under what conditions people embrace the element of race and what outcomes these actions have for their various actions. Hence, he holds that there exists a form of ‘dynamic nominalism’ with respect to African American identity. In this viewpoint, it is argued that multiple types of humans which include racial identities exist together with people’s invention of categories of labeling them.

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According to Appiah, the race is crucial when reading and writing about literature. This is illustrated in how Appiah holds that racial identities have crucial political consequences. He attempts to spell out these effects in a manner which is compatible with the liberal thought that people ultimately need to be considered. This is true because according to Gracia and Smith (12), in the modern community, whenever such identities depict obsessive loyalty to people, they threaten to propagate violence and injustices to the society’s order. In conclusion, from the above discussion on Jehlen’s gender and Appiah’s race, it is crucial to note that both concepts play essential roles when writing and reading about literature. Thinking about these concepts enables the authors to align societal needs with their literature.

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