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Responses to history : the re-articulation of post-colonial identity in the plays of Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott 1950-1976

De Mel, Fyona Neloufer Sharain (1990) Responses to history : the re-articulation of post-colonial identity in the plays of Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott 1950-1976. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94301) (KAR id:94301)


The thesis will discuss the plays of the Nigerian Wole Soyinka and St. Lucian Derek Walcott as sites in which the playwrights are engaged in a dialogue with their colonial history, and in response to its impositions, rearticulate post-colonial identities. Soyinka and Walcott have been chosen as case studies of the post-colonial re-articulation of identity because they offer two important broad options available to the post-colonial today. Soyinka has recourse to a viable indigenous Yoruba culture which he posits as an alter/native tradition to the coloniser's. Walcott on the other hand, the victim of a far more deracinated saga, feels he has no such "native" tradition to recoup, and re-writes the history of the Caribbean through European metaphors.

The thesis will show however that although the playwrights rearticulate their identities in radically different ways, their strategies for doing so are less divergent than they appear at first. Both Soyinka and Walcott negotiate their post-coloniality from within the coloniser's own discourse, with the references and paradigms of the European "Centre". In marking this, the thesis points to the fact that their work reflects the contradictions that constitute post-coloniality itself, for by challenging the coloniser's impositions of colonial identity through the coloniser's discourse they affirm that which they deny and deny that which they affirm, rehearsing the contradictions and complicities their post-colonial identities are predicated on.

The thesis is in two parts. Part 1 begins with a general introduction to both playwrights in which their autobiographies Ak6 and Another Life are looked at to situate them in the context of their personal and larger histories. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 deal specifically with Soyinka. Myth, Literature and the African World is discussed as a site in which Soyinka is engaged in a de-colonizing project, constructing paradigms from the Ogun myth for the benefit of both a wider English speaking/reading audience and "alienated" African, after which A Dance of the Forests, The Strong Breed, Death and the King's Horseman and The Bacchae are read as texts which illustrate the paradigms constructed in Myth.

Part 11 deals with Walcott. Chapter 5 discusses Walcott's essays on history against other articulations of identity such as Black Power, and his use of the Crusoe story as a paradigm for the West Indian experience is analyzed. Chapters 6, 7 and 8 discuss Henri Christophe, Sea at Dauphin, TiJean and His Brothers and Dream on Monkey Mountain as plays informed by Walcott's central concerns on the nexus of history and identity in the West Indies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94301
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 13:57 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 13:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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