Crossing into the Cultural Other: A Dialogic Reading Strategy.

Stephen Nicholas Rankin


What can Western literature do in the face of heterological reality? Drawing on the theories of Homi Bhabha and Tzvetan Todorov, this paper explores the difficulties facing Western writers of fiction in regard to their participation in postcolonial discourse. It suggests that the West is limited by its [un]hybridity to a space outside of dialogic discourse and restricted either to an endless loop of self-reference or the appropriation of the voices of otherness. The article, however, goes on to argue that textual dialogism can provide an avenue for the negotiation of difference for the reader: a conversational space within which both sides can speak and be heard without crossing the line into cultural appropriation. I suggest that this can take place through the cross-culturally dialogic reading of novelistic discourse which has the capacity to loosen and re-entangle liminalities in the consciousness of the reader through the internal and socially-contextualised experience of culturally divergent voices that share a common literary space. The applicability of dialogism as a reading strategy will be considered in relation to two texts, Inez Baranay's Australian novel, The Edge of Bali, and Gerson Poyk's Indonesian short story, 'Kuta, di Sini Cintaku Kerlip Kemerlap', which explore fictional encounters between Australian female tourists and Indonesian men.



Cross-cultural dialogism, hybridity, reading strategy, tourism, Indonesia

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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