Imperial-Colonial Discourses and the Politics of English Language in the 19th Century English Literature (Dian Nurrachman)

The politics of English language in English literature was the foremost notion of English language growth or expansion all over the world, which is nowadays known by several names, such as Global English(es), World English(es), and English as an International Language.

ABSTRACT

Nurrachman, Dian. 2010. Imperial-Colonial Discourses and the Politics of English Language in the 19th Century English Literature. Thesis, English Language Education Department, Graduate Program, State University of Malang. Advisors: 1) Dr. Yazid Basthomi, M. A.; 2) Dr. Arwijati W. Murdibjono, M. Pd., Dip. TESL.

Key words: English literature, imperialism, colonialism, discourse, politics of English language

The position of English literature, especially its novels in the 19th Century as the proponent of English imperialism-colonialism proved that literature—as another discipline as well—would never be an innocent discipline, and never has been. English literature was then placed as the hegemonic power which manifested in the imperial-colonial discourses to sustain imperialism-colonialism, since the power of its content can leave an influence behind the colonized people. From this stance as well, then, the politics of English language appeared to accompany the imperial-colonial discourses. The politics of English language in English literature was the foremost notion of English language growth or expansion all over the world, which is nowadays known by several names, such as Global English(es), World English(es), and English as an International Language. Those ideas indeed became the real reasons for conducting this thesis research, since our English language education is part of such (a) ‘Global English(es)’, which was in the first sense closely related to the English imperialism and colonialism.

In elaborating those ideas, I have chosen two novels to be scrutinized which were considered as the prototype of the 19th century English literature, namely, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. These novels were assumed as the ideologically convenient with the imperial-colonial discourses and the politics of English language, since Kipling and Conrad were two authors who were often regarded as the imperialists-colonialists, and therefore made their works as the imperial-colonial texts. Due to this, I then proposed two research questions: 1) How are the imperial-colonial discourses presented in the two novels? 2) How is the politics of English language presented in the two novels? Thus, in order to make the elaboration arguable, reasonable, and justifiable, I also have chosen the colonial/post-colonial theory of literary criticism to be made as theoretical standpoint as well as the approach to elaborate the research questions. This theory was chosen because of its trustworthiness in treating literature (both as text and as institution) to be ideologically convenient with the context of imperialism and colonialism, especially in dealing with the English/British imperialism and colonialism.

The result of the research showed that the two novels were indeed the imperial-colonial texts which reflected and represented the imperial-colonial discourses and the politics of English language within their narratives. In the imperial-colonial discourses, the two novels represented the characteristics of hegemony and power, hybrid cultural identity, and politics of difference and racism which representatively existed there as well as the ideological interests of their narratives to be a system of statements (theorizing knowledge) which theorizes the colonized (indigenous) people. Both of them also viewed the native, the indigenous, and certainly the colonized as Others, as people who did not have any rights to speak up about themselves, because their destiny was theorized by Self—the European, the West, the English/British, while in the politics of English language, the two novels also represented the real political facts of language use which was characterized by textual politics and colonial semantic reference. These two characteristics then could be considered as the foremost link to English linguistic imperialism in the context of the growth or the expansion of English language in nowadays context.

Some possible suggestions for further research, then, are: 1) Researching other novels of the same period was necessary to make comprehensive information on such problems for the sake of the contribution on literary knowledge; 2) Due to the issue of English linguistic imperialism in nowadays contexts, therefore, going through the problems of imperial-colonial discourses and the politics of English language is still important to conduct, even now in our own age; 3) Echoing number 2, this thesis could become a basis and/or background knowledge, both in English literature and English language education field; 4) It is now for English language teachers to be more and more open to English literature, in order to be able to use it as the authentic source, especially for reading materials, of course, with a critical perspective in mind.

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