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Uneasy Subjects

Postcolonialism and Scottish Gaelic Poetry

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Silke Stroh

Scottish and “Celtic fringe” postcolonialism has caused much controversy and unease in literary studies. Can the non-English territories and peoples of the British Isles, faced with centuries of English hegemony, be meaningfully compared to former overseas colonies? This book is the first comprehensive study of this topic which offers an in-depth study of Gaelic literature. It investigates the complex interplay between Celticity, Gaeldom, Scottish and British national identity, and international colonial and postcolonial discourse. It situates post/colonial elements in Gaelic poetry within a wider context, showing how they intersect with socio-historical and political issues, anglophone literature and the media.
Highlighting the centrality of Celticity as an archetypal construct in colonial discourses ancient and modern, this volume traces post/colonial themes and strategies in Gaelic poetry from the Middle Ages to the present. Central themes include the uneasy position of Gaels as subjects of the Scottish or British state, and as both intra-British colonised and overseas colonisers. Aiming to promote interdisciplinary dialogue, it is of interest for scholars and students of Scottish Studies, Gaelic and English literature, and international Postcolonial Studies.

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Edited by Karl Simms

This volume contains nineteen essays — eighteen here presented for the first time — exploring the question of subjectivity as seen from a linguistic perspective. Part I concerns the relationship between the linguistic subject, particularly the grammatical first person, and the subject in more general sense of ‘person'. Topics covered include deixis, verbal marking and temporalisation, and performatives. Part II concerns the relationship of subjectivity to the experience of reading, and as such considers the semiotics of both literary and non-literary texts, inter-modal representation, authorship and intertextuality. The essays in the volume are principally influenced by the thinking of Saussure, Jakobson, Guillaume, Benveniste, Wittgenstein, Barthes and Deleuze, and the book will appeal to scholars with an interest in theoretical linguistics, semiotics, discourse, analysis and philosophy of language. Karl Simms provides comprehensive introductions to each of the parts, making the book accessible to inform general readers with an interest in cultural and communication studies.

Redefining the Subject

Sites of Play in Canadian Women’s Writing

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Charlotte Sturgess

This volume takes up the challenge of Canadian women's writing in its diversity, in order to examine the terms on which subjectivity, in its social, political and literary dimensions, emerges as discourse. Work from writers as diverse as Dionne Brand, Hiromi Goto and Margaret Atwood, among others, are studied both in their specific dimensions and through the collective focus of cultural and textual revision which characterizes Canadian writing in the feminine. Current theorizing on the postcolonial imaginary is brought to bear in the interests of forging or unpacking those links which tie the Self to culture. As such, Redefining the Subject sets out to discover the limits of the aesthetic in its encounter with the political: the figures and designs which envisage textual reimaginings as statements of a contemporary Canadian reality.

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Edited by Jane Dowson and Steven Earnshaw

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Roger W. Baines

This is the first major study in English of the work of the French novelist, essayist, journalist, poet and ‘chansonnier’ Pierre Mac Orlan (1882-1970). It assesses Mac Orlan's contribution to the post-1918 phenomenon of intellectual disillusionment and disorientation which was termed the ‘nouveau mal du siècle’, or ‘inquiétude’. Although he has largely been ignored by critics thus far, Mac Orlan was part of mainstream French literary production and a major exponent of ‘inquiétude’. Where he differs from his contemporaries is in his subject matter, in his use of sociological, rather than abstract, intellectual material. His expression of ‘inquiétude’ encompasses: ‘le fantastique social’; adventure; marginality; ‘le cafard’; and sadistic sexuality. His originality lies in his invention of ‘le fantastique social’, in his constant use of certain techniques, as well as the subject matter, of German Expressionism via the depiction of the disturbing landscape of the modern city, post-1918 inflation and decadence, prostitutes and criminals, doomed adventurers, the mystery of modern technology, and in the expression of a morbid interest in sexual violence. This volume will be of particular interest to students of inter-war French literature and thought.

GothicK: Origins and Innovations

Papers from the International Gothic Conference Held at The University of East Anglia, Norwich

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Edited by Allan Lloyd Smith and Victor Sage

Gothic: Origins and Innovations brings together nineteen papers from an international group of scholars currently researching in the field of the Gothic which take a fresh, contemporary look at the tradition from its eighteenth-century inception to the twentieth century. Topics and authors include the current usage and definition of the term 'Gothic'; the eighteenth-century rise of the genre; the Sublime; Victorian sensation fiction, and authors such as Coleridge, Mary Shelly, Maturin, LeFanu, Washington Irving, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, John Neale, Jack London, Herman Melville, Dickens, Henry James and the movie version of his Turn of the Screw, The Innocents. This wide-ranging set of discussions brings to the subject a new set of perspectives, revising standard accounts of the origins of the genre and extending the historical and cultural contexts into which traditional literary history has tended to confine the subject. Framed by a lively and challenging introduction, the collection brings to bear a full range of contemporary critical instruments, approaches, and interdisciplinary languages, ranging from the new vocabularies of the socio-cultural to the latest debates in the psychoanalytic field. It provides a stimulating introduction to recent thinking about the Gothic.

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Edited by Christine Arkinstall

What does the word “quest” conjure up? A journey in the hope of fulfillment, an exploration of identities, questions, the nature of research itself, or the darker side of quest in the form of conquest, colonisation and displacement? These are some of the threads taken up and developed in this collection of essays by established and emerging scholars. Germaine Greer, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Serge Doubrovsky, A. S. Byatt, Novalis, Melville, Valéry, Beckett, Stanislao Nievo, Victor Segalen, Sibilla Aleramo, Dacia Maraini, Defoe, Tournier, Coetzee, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Cintio Vitier, Domingo del Monte, Ramón de Palma, Pablo Armando Fernández, Hubert Aquin, Anne Hébert , Homer, Proust, Balzac and Robbe-Grillet provide the literary voices that invite these scholars to embark on their own quests into subjects as diverse as the relationships between texts, authors and readers, the initiatic journey, spirituality and enlightenment, female autobiography and identity, oppression, imperialism and postcolonial discourses, not to mention the history of the quest itself. The result is a rich tapestry of thought-provoking insights into the inexhaustible connections between literature and quest.

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Faye Hammill

“There are two ladies in the province, I am told, who read,” writes Frances Brooke’s Arabella Fermor, “but both are above fifty and are regarded as prodigies of erudition.” Brooke’s The History of Emily Montague (1769) was the first work of fiction to be set in Canada, and also the first book to reflect on the situation of the woman writer there. Her analysis of the experience of writing in Canada is continued by the five other writers considered in this study – Susanna Moodie, Sara Jeannette Duncan, L.M. Montgomery, Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields. All of these authors examine the social position of the woman of letters in Canada, the intellectual stimulation available to her, the literary possibilities of Canadian subject-matter, and the practical aspects of reading, writing, and publishing in a (post)colonial country.
This book turns on the ways in which those aspects of authorship and literary culture in Canada have been inscribed in imaginative, autobiographical and critical texts by the six authors. It traces the evolving situation of the Canadian woman writer over the course of two centuries, and explores the impact of social and cultural change on the experience of writing in Canada.

Rewriting History

Peter Carey’s Fictional Biography of Australia

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Andreas Gaile

Peter Carey is one of the most richly awarded and critically acclaimed novelists of the present day. Most of his fictions relate to questions of Australian history and identity. Rewriting History argues that taken together Carey’s novels make up a fictional biography of Australia. The reading proposed here considers both key events in the life of the subject of Carey’s biography (such as the exploration of the interior of the continent, the dispossession of the Aborigines, the convict experience, the process of Australia’s coming of age as a postcolonial country) as well as its identity. Rewriting History demonstrates how Carey exposes the lies and deceptions that make up the traditional representations of Australian history and supplants them with a new national story – one that because of its fictional status is not bound to the rigidities of traditional historical discourse. At a time of momentous cultural change, when Australia is being transformed from a “New Britannia in another world” to a nation not merely in, but actually of the Asia-Pacific region, Carey’s fiction, this book argues, calls for the construction of a postcolonial national identity that acknowledges the wrongs of the past and gives Australians a sense of cultural orientation between their British past and their multicultural present.

In Search of 'Kynde Knowynge'

Piers Plowman and the Origin of Allegory

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Madeleine J.A. Kasten

Readers today no longer relish sustained allegorical narratives the way they did in the Middle Ages, when the art of ‘other-speaking’ was as dominant in poetic discourse as it was elsewhere. Yet we live in an age which, following the postmodernist dictum that any sign can only refer to other signs, has declared all language liable to the ‘allegorical condition’.
This paradox has led the author to question the epistemological assumptions underlying allegories composed in an era which, conversely, favoured the oblique form of expression while professing its belief in the divine Logos as the ultimate ground of all meaning. If art and doctrine appear so divided on the subject of allegory in our own day, then might not the relationship between allegorical writing and interpretation in the Middle Ages have been more complex than is often assumed? How solid are the grounds on which Michel Foucault has based his distinction between early modernity and its past - a time when, he claims, the languages of the world were still perceived to make up “the image of the truth”?
The present study addresses these and related questions through a heuristic comparison between historically and culturally different approaches to narrative allegory. In her analysis of the late-fourteenth century dream poem Piers Plowman by William Langland, Kasten sets up a critical dialogue between this extraordinary work and Walter Benjamin's study of German baroque allegory, The Origin of German Tragic Drama. Far from serving the narrow purposes of didacticism, she contends, Piers Plowman invites a reconsideration of the very grounds on which (post-) modernity has tried to distance itself from its cultural past.