The Liminal Text: Exploring the Perpetual Process of Becoming \ud with particular reference to Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners and George Lamming’s The Emigrants\ud & Kitch: A Fictional Biography of The Calypsonian Lord Kitchener

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Joseph, Anthony Derek
  • Publisher: Goldsmiths, University of London

This practice-as-research thesis is in two parts. The first, Kitch, is a fictional biography of Aldwyn\ud Roberts, popularly known as Lord Kitchener. Kitch represents the first biographical study of the\ud Trinidadian calypso icon, whose arrival in Britain onboard The Empire Windrush was famously\ud captured in Pathé footage. In the critical essay, contextualising Kitch, I argue that rite of passage\ud theory, in particular, liminality theory, as defined and developed by Victor W. Turner, offers a\ud valuable alternative to theories of hybridity and fragmentation hitherto applied to the postcolonial\ud Caribbean and its literature. To support this position I offer close readings of two iconic works of\ud postwar migratory fiction; George Lamming’s The Emigrants (1956) and Samuel Selvon’s The\ud Lonely Londoners (1956), showing how aspects of rite of passage and liminality theory illuminate\ud these novels.\ud \ud My critical reflection on Kitch examines the marked absence of auto/biographical work on or\ud by calypso artists in ethnomusicology or mainstream publishing. This absence is disproportionate\ud both to the numerous studies of the calypso which approach the form homogeneously, at the\ud expense of its individual artists, and, to the socio-historical importance of the calypso to the\ud Caribbean and its disapora.\ud \ud Since Kitch is a fictionalised biography, I provide a brief exploration of the genre by\ud drawing on the work of Michael Ondaatje and Earl Lovelace. My argument here is that the\ud multitudinous and liminal approach of Kitch offers a more plausible alternative to linear, single\ud narrator approaches since it mirrors both the process of research, and the manner in which a\ud community of non-hierarchical voices may contribute to the construction and memorialisation of a\ud calypsonian’s life.
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