The concept of 'margins' denotes geographical, economic, demographic, cultural and political positioning in relation to a perceived centre. This book aims to question the term 'marginal' itself, to hear the voices talking 'across' borders and not only to or through an English centre. The first part of the book examines debates on the political and poetic choice of language, drawing attention to significant differences between the Irish and Scottish strategies. It includes a discussion of the complicated dynamic of woman and nation by Aileen Christianson, which explores the work of twentieth-century Scottish and Irish women writers. The book also explores masculinities in both English and Scottish writing from Berthold Schoene, which deploys sexual difference as a means of testing postcolonial theorizing. A different perspective on the notion of marginality is offered by addressing 'Englishness' in relation to 'migrant' writing in prose concerned with India and England after Independence. The second part of the book focuses on a wide range of new poetry to question simplified margin/centre relations. It discusses a historicising perspective on the work of cultural studies and its responses to the relationship between ethnicity and second-generation Irish musicians from Sean Campbell. The comparison of contemporary Irish and Scottish fiction which identifies similarities and differences in recent developments is also considered. In each instance the writers take on the task of examining and assessing points of connection and diversity across a particular body of work, while moving away from contrasts which focus on an English 'norm'.
Gender, sexual difference and knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis
Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis
‘Strange things so probably told’:
gender, sexualdifference and
knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis
Let us establish a chaste and lawful marriage between mind and
nature, with the divine mercy as bridewoman.1
I am come in very truth leading to you Nature with all her children
to bind her to your service and make her your slave … so may I
succeed in my only earthly wish, namely to stretch the deplorably
narrow limits of man’s dominion over the universe to their
The human mind in studying
Francis Bacon produced his final draft of the New Atlantis around the years 1624-1625. Standing at the threshold of early modern thought, Bacon's text operates at the interstices of its contemporary culture and does indeed signal a desire to 'illuminate all the border-regions that confine upon the circle of our present knowledge'. This book presents a collection of essays that show how the New Atlantis negotiates a variety of contexts, namely literary, philosophical, political, religious and social, in order to achieve this. The narrative begins with a standard literary device. When Bacon wrote the New Atlantis, he clearly had More's Utopia in mind as a model. For all his strictures on the use of language for rhetorical effect, Francis Bacon was thoroughly grounded in the Renaissance art of rhetoric. He consciously drew on his rhetorical skill in his writings, adapting his style as occasion demanded. The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. The book discusses two forms of natural knowledge that Bacon takes up and develops in the New Atlantis: natural magic, and medicine. The modern project is crucially dependent on two fundamental miracles: the miracle of creation and the miracle of divine revelation. The book also analyses Bacon's representations of colonialism and Jewishness in the New Atlantis has revealed. The New Atlantis raises questions concerning the relationship between censorship and knowledge.
compulsory heterosexuality that lies at the heart of the determining structures of modern society, aﬃrming that at the heart of this compulsory
heterosexuality, like a Russian doll, lies a ﬁrm and unquestioned belief in
sexualdiﬀerence as a system that operates functionally like a binary opposition – and this belief is often tantamount to considering that sexualdiﬀerence is indeed itself a binary system.15 More recently, in a key text,
Masculin/Féminin: la pensée de la diﬀérence, the French social anthropologist Françoise Héritier has considered the ways in which sexual
postcolonial literatures from 1947, are cast in a
gendered mould. Nationalism, which has been so fundamental to the decolonisation process around the world, bears a clear mark for gender, and this gender
marking, rather than being referred to a monolithic or transhistorical concept
of patriarchy, can be explained as a speciﬁc historical development of power
deﬁned by sexualdiﬀerence. To put it more plainly, this book submits that,
without this marking for gender, it is well-nigh impossible to conceive of the
modern nation. Whether we look at its iconography, its
sexuality that is abusive
for their own internal reasons.
The feminist philosopher, Linda LeMoncheck, argues that sexuality
should not be divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or ‘normal’ and ‘perverse’, but
should be rethought as ‘a diﬀerentiated category of nonstigmatized sexual
variation’.15 She further argues that from such a perspective:
both normal and perverse sex become forms of sexualdiﬀerence. Within
this framework, no sexual preference is advantaged by being ‘normal’ . . .
understanding both the normal and the perverse as two types of sexualdiﬀerence from the ‘view
rereminds postcolonial theory of the signiﬁcance of the nation, as I will explain.
For another, it persuasively introduces (and reintroduces) the constitutive
reality of sexualdiﬀerence to a critical practice that has till very recently, unless
in passing, tended to overlook this formative legacy. In mainstream postcolonial studies, gender is still conventionally treated in a tokenistic way, or as subsidiary to the category of race. These two impacts correspond to the two major
ironies or blind-spots of postcolonial theory which continue even today to
compete for centre
a discussion of the complicated dynamic of woman and nation by Aileen
Christianson, which explores the work of twentieth-century Scottish
and Irish women writers and assesses the relevance of a postcolonial
context in understanding the ‘debatable’ boundaries arising from that
intersection; an exploration of masculinities in both English and Scottish writing from Berthold Schoene, which also deploys sexualdifference
as a means of testing postcolonial theorising, but does so within the
context of a discourse in which bodily, social and national
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan’s
reading, see Real and Imagined Women: Gender, Culture and Postcolonialism
(London and New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 15–39.
Jacobus, Reading Woman, p. 217.
Luce Irigaray, ‘Sexualdiﬀerence,’ in Toril Moi (ed.), French Feminist Thought
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1988), p. 120.
Nuruddin Farah, Maps (London: Picador, 1986).
Jean Franco, ‘The nation as imagined community’, in H. Aram Veeser (ed.), The
New Historicism (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 205. On the second, cynical, ‘postnativist’ stage in African writing, see Kwame Anthony Appiah, ‘Is the post- in
British masculinities, pomophobia, and the post-nation
hence with femininity. It means, in other words, the collapse
of that system of fortification whereby sexualdifference is secured, a
system dependent upon projection, disavowal and fetishism. (3)
The question to be asked now is whether contemporary Scottish
masculinity could possibly be described as a devolutionary kind of masculinity that has embraced its feminine marginality and is saying ‘no’ to
power. In ‘Not(e) from the margin’, an essay written in 1995 in response
to an English woman colleague’s suggestion that ‘nationalism is always
bad news for women