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ULM’s Giles publishes article

Published September 03, 2014

Dr. Jana M. Giles, assistant professor and McKneely Professor in English at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has had an article on Bangladeshi writer Amitav Ghosh published in the latest issue of the “Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.”

Giles’s article, “Can the Sublime Be Postcolonial? Aesthetics, Politics and Environment in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide,” examines how the novel—published in 2005—recasts the aesthetic theory of the sublime as in service of a postcolonial future. 


Traditionally, aesthetics, which is the branch of philosophy concerned with our responses to art, beauty, and physical experience, was considered to be politically, sexually, and racially neutral.

Set in the vast Sundarban mangrove forest of Bangladesh in the shadow of the British colonial past and the 1979 Morichjhapi massacre, “The Hungry Tide” traces the transformation of three metropolitan characters from disengaged spectators to invested insiders.

Giles reads the novel as elaborating the theories of postmodern French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, whose revision of the sublime as the “differend” in both aesthetics and politics and provides a compelling context for exploring the postcolonial sublime.

Suggesting ecocentric ways of engaging the world that loosen the bonds of the colonial past, and critiquing the failure of the postcolonial state and the new cosmopolitanism, Ghosh rewrites aesthetics as interconnected with ethics and politics.

In his novel, the sublime no longer privileges metaphysical or anthropocentric pure reason, but instead enables discovery of our interpenetration with the natural world, spurring us to witnessing and activism in partnership with those who have been rendered silent and invisible.

Giles earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John's College, her M.A. in English (Concentration in Creative Writing) from the University of New Mexico, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

She has been an assistant professor of English at ULM since 2009.