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Back to the Present: Forward to the Past, Volume I

Irish Writing and History since 1798


Edited by Patricia A. Lynch, Joachim Fischer and Brian Coates

The island of Ireland, north and south, has produced a great diversity of writing in both English and Irish for hundreds of years, often using the memories embodied in its competing views of history as a fruitful source of literary inspiration. Placing Irish literature in an international context, these two volumes explore the connection between Irish history and literature, in particular the Rebellion of 1798, in a more comprehensive, diverse and multi-faceted way than has often been the case in the past. The fifty-three authors bring their national and personal viewpoints as well as their critical judgements to bear on Irish literature in these stimulating articles. The contributions also deal with topics such as Gothic literature, ideology, and identity, as well as gender issues, connections with the other arts, regional Irish literature, in particular that of the city of Limerick, translations, the works of Joyce, and comparisons with the literature of other nations. The contributors are all members of IASIL (International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures). Back to the Present: Forward to the Past. Irish Writing and History since 1798 will be of interest to both literary scholars and professional historians, but also to the general student of Irish writing and Irish culture.

Love, Sex, and Marriage

A Historical Thesaurus


Julie Coleman

If the language we use influences and reflects the way that we see the world, then the fields of LOVE, SEX, and MARRIAGE, will show how speakers of English view their closest social and emotional relationships. Love, Sex, and Marriage provides a classification of English terms for these three fields from the earliest written records of the language until the present day. This volume makes it possible to trace changing attitudes towards social and sexual ties, and to understand those ties as earlier speakers of English did, through the language they used. The terms are arranged by meaning, and are listed chronologically within semantic fields, with their dates of usage. Notes on individual terms provide further information about their connotations and development. Language does not exist in isolation from the people who speak it, so background information about changes in social conditions, religious beliefs, and medical advancements is also included. A brief introduction to basic semantic terminology explains the principles behind the classification, and an alphabetical index facilitates the location of individual terms.

Producing the Pacific

Maps and Narratives of Spanish Exploration (1567-1606)


Mercedes Maroto Camino

Producing the Pacific offers the reader an interdisciplinary reading of the maps, narratives and rituals related to the three Spanish voyages to the South Pacific that took place between 1567 and 1606. These journeys were led by Álvaro de Mendaña, Pedro Fernández de Quirós and Isabel Barreto, the first woman ever to become admiral of and command a fleet.
Mercedes Maroto Camino presents a cultural analysis of these journeys and takes issue with some established notions about the value of the past and the way it is always rewritten from the perspective of the present. She highlights the social, political and cultural environment in which maps and narratives circulate, suggesting that their significance is always subject to negotiation and transformation. The tapestry created by the interpretation of maps, narratives and rituals affords a view not only of the minds of the first men and women who traversed the Pacific but also of how they saw the ocean, its islands and their peoples. Producing the Pacific should, therefore, be of relevance to those interested in history, voyages, colonialism, cartography, anthropology and cultural studies.
The study of these cultural products contributes to an interpretive history of colonialism at the same time that it challenges the beliefs and assumptions that underscore our understanding of that history.

Neo-Victorian Tropes of Trauma

The Politics of Bearing After-Witness to Nineteenth-Century Suffering


Edited by Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben

This collection constitutes the first volume in Rodopi’s Neo-Victorian Series, which explores the prevalent but often problematic re-vision of the long nineteenth century in contemporary culture. Here is presented for the first time an extended analysis of the conjunction of neo-Victorian fiction and trauma discourse, highlighting the significant interventions in collective memory staged by the belated aesthetic working-through of historical catastrophes, as well as their lingering traces in the present. The neo-Victorian’s privileging of marginalised voices and its contestation of master-narratives of historical progress construct a patchwork of competing but equally legitimate versions of the past, highlighting on-going crises of existential extremity, truth and meaning, nationhood and subjectivity. This volume will be of interest to both researchers and students of the growing field of neo-Victorian studies, as well as scholars in memory studies, trauma theory, ethics, and heritage studies. It interrogates the ideological processes of commemoration and forgetting and queries how the suffering of cultural and temporal others should best be represented, so as to resist the temptations of exploitative appropriation and voyeuristic spectacle. Such precarious negotiations foreground a central paradox: the ethical imperative to bear after-witness to history’s silenced victims in the face of the potential unrepresentability of extreme suffering.


Kate Mitchell

Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (2005) enacts a narrative return to the violent trauma of Aboriginal dispossession and destruction upon which Australia is founded, situating its reader complexly, as both witness to and complicit in the events it retells. Her use of fiction to represent this trauma made Grenville the focus of heated public debate about the role of fiction in representing the past, a debate that repeatedly cast her project as historically dubious. However, rather than approaching the novel as a corrupted form of history’s reconstruction of past events, it seems more useful to situate this text as an act of memory in the present, which shapes both past and future. Even as it represents the past, Grenville’s novel addresses a present both deeply divided and in danger of forgetting its history. It uses the affective power of fiction to reinscribe and reactivate Aboriginal Australian history in the contemporary historical imaginary.


Elodie Rousselot

Recent scholarship on British neo-Victorian fiction has presented contemporary authors’ returns to the nineteenth century as an expression of nostalgia for this period and for the work of their Victorian literary predecessors. In the context of non-British texts however, those returns to bygone times of Victorian ‘literary greatness’ may be used to different effect: that of re-appropriating and challenging, rather than confirming, these typical nostalgic drives. This is the case in Jane Urquhart’s novel The Whirlpool (1986), set in the wilderness of Niagara Falls, Canada, but framed by a narrative sequence focused on Robert Browning’s death in 1889 Venice. The use of irony and the presence of ‘postmodern gaps’ in the novel’s quotational process serve to highlight and undermine the lingering effects of the Victorian canon on new poetic voices. The novel’s focus on issues of death and decay in the old world of Europe also emphasises the renewal potential present in the Canadian wild. By presenting the act of mourning as a specifically Victorian cultural expression and ideological by-product of the British Empire, the novel successfully challenges the political and historical legacy of colonisation in Canada. In this context, mourning is used as a commemorative process to inscribe otherwise silenced histories, and thus contributes to the establishment of a Canadian historical consciousness.


Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben

Increasingly, the nineteenth century has become a significant locus of investigations into historical trauma, in terms of the retrospective analysis of actual catastrophic events and their long term after-effects, as well as their fictional re-experience and belated ‘working through’ in literature. The neo-Victorian phenomenon both reflects and contributes to crucial developments in trauma discourse and cultural memory, both at national and global levels, constructing competing versions of the past that continue to inform the present. Crucially, the neo-Victorian also problematises the politicisation and appropriation of trauma and resulting ethical dilemmas vis-à-vis the suffering other, especially relating to the notion of trauma’s unrepresentability and the figurative language used to convey the central paradox of the unspeakable.


Celia Wallhead and Marie-Luise Kohlke

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004) opens with a 39-page neo-Victorian section that suddenly ends in mid-sentence, after which the novel progresses through various temporal settings before returning to the initial narrative frame. The reader is invited to follow the clues that bind the whole together, a technique reliant on the thread of trauma that links distinct historical sufferings in interwoven virtual pasts, presents, and futures. This chapter investigates how Mitchell’s starting-point, a travelogue of an American notary in the Chatham Islands in the mid-nineteenth century, informs the rest of the novel, introducing its main themes: the relations between powerful and powerless, memory and forgetting, free and slave, and how these traumatically translate into physical and mental violence. Mitchell’s Darwinian-inflected vision plays with ideas of fitness and dominance, altruism and the survival of individuals and cultures, both as he looks back to Darwin’s day and as he explores how these ideas continue to inform our present and a future that may or may not become our own.

Mit den Augen eines Kindes

Children in the Holocaust. Children in Exile. Children under Fascism


Edited by Viktoria Hertling

Die vorliegenden siebzehn Beiträge basieren weitgehend auf den Vorträgen der im Oktober 1996 an der University of Nevada in Reno veranstaltenden Konferenz Children in the Holocaust - Children in Exile - Children under Fascism. Die Tagung beschäftigte sich erstmals mit den einschneidenden, oft nicht wieder auszulöschenden traumatischen Erfahrungen von Kindern im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland, im Exil und im Holocaust. Mit dem Jahr 2000 - also in weniger als zwei Jahren - gehört der Holocaust, den auch Daniel J. Goldhagen als das schockierendsten Ereignis des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts bezeichnet, das innerhalb der deutschen Geschichte am schwierigsten zu verstehen sei, zu den Ereignissen des sogenannten 'Letzten Jahrhunderts'. Ist es darum nicht geboten, die Auseinandersetzung mit diesen Ereignissen, die für viele Menschen selbst heute noch mit schweren Ängsten verbunden sind, unter neuen Gesichtspunkten zur Diskussion zu bringen, damit die Thematik auch über die Schwelle zum nächsten Jahrhundert hinweg in unseren Sichtweite nichts an ihrer Ungeheuerlichkeit einbüße?