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Concrete Language

Intercultural Communication in Maxine Hong Kingston's "The Woman Warrior</I> and Ishmael Reed's "Mumbo Jumbo</I>


Samuel Ludwig

In Concrete Language Sämi Ludwig investigates models of intercultural communication in two postmodern texts. Basing his argument mainly on George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's and on recent ethnographic work on metaphor, he proposes an approach which traces «concrete» discursive elements in multicultural fiction, that is, he looks at how communication is constructed in the metaphors of literary texts. The detailed analysis of two exemplary books, one by an Asian American woman and the other by an African American man, yields fascinating results: Kingston's autobiography can be read as an experiential critique of the metaphorical frameworks which predetermine intercultural communication. Reed's novel even constructs a multicultural system of interaction which is based on Voodoo forms. In a detailed conclusion the author observes that oral metaphors of communication are preferred in both texts, suggesting that a multicultural theoretical meta-framework should go beyond visual or spatial metaphors and be constructed on the basis of aural imagery.
Contents: Tracing This Side of Cultural Relativism - Digitalized Essences and Analogic Images - The Metaphorical Formation of Identity - Marginality and Madness - Beyond Primitivism: Inside the Other System - Possession - Some Aspects of a Heathen «Style» - Neo-HooDoo Detection - From Negativity to Variety: A Discourse of Unbounded Perspective - Cultural Meta-Theory.