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Cultural identity and change in the Atlantic archipelago

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'.

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The ‘outside’ in poetry in the 1980s and 1990s

6 Paper margins: the ‘outside’ in poetry in the 1980s and 1990s LINDEN PEACH Poetry emanating from what a few decades ago would have been deemed ‘the margins’ has become the major focus of publishing houses, journals and criticism, the latter evident in two recent collections of essays: Poetry in the British Isles: Non-Metropolitan Perspectives (Ludwig and Fietz 1995) and Contemporary British Poetry: Essays in Theory and Criticism (Acheson and Huk 1996). I say ‘were deemed’ because, as Terry Eagleton has observed, the marginal has become ‘somehow central’ (1989

in Across the margins
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Ethnicity and popular music in British cultural studies

7 Sounding out the margins: ethnicity and popular music in British cultural studies SEAN CAMPBELL Introduction In their discussion of the development of British cultural studies,1 Jon Stratton and Ien Ang point out that the ‘energizing impulse’ of the field has ‘historically … lain in [a] critical concern with, and validation of, the subordinate, the marginalized [and] the subaltern within Britain’ (1996: 376). Accordingly, many of the field’s principal practitioners have paid a considerable amount of attention to questions of ‘race’2 and ethnicity in post

in Across the margins
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Crossing the margins

1 Introduction: crossing the margins GLENDA NORQUAY AND GERRY SMYTH ‘So there it was, our territory’, writes the narrator in Seamus Deane’s novel-cum-memoir Reading in the Dark (1997: 59), claiming his own particular domain with all the confidence of childhood. We are drawn to the identification of places, impelled to categorise our territory. It is, however, only movements within and across space that actuate, modify, transform it; as Michel de Certeau puts it, ‘space is a practised place’ (1988: 117). Any identification of boundaries is in itself an act of

in Across the margins
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Debatable lands and passable boundaries

4 Gender and nation: debatable lands and passable boundaries AILEEN CHRISTIANSON ‘Debatable lands’ and ‘passable boundaries’: both concepts are emblematic of the kind of inevitably shifting, multi-dimensional perspectives that are found in any consideration of nation and gender.1 Homi K. Bhabha writes of the ‘ambivalent margin of the nation-space’ and ‘the ambivalent, antagonistic perspective of nation as narration’ (1990a: 4). These ‘ambivalent margins’ are contained in the Scottish metaphor of the Debatable Land. Originally the term was for that area ‘holdin

in Across the margins
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British masculinities, pomophobia, and the post-nation

Empire in the 1950s. Both patriarchal masculinity and European imperialism rely for their superiority on the unconditional subservience of a clearly defined margin of others. As colonies all over the globe took the end of World War II as an opportunity to opt for national independence, in Look Back in Anger we witness the first stirrings of organised self-assertion amongst women, gay men and – in Cliff’s case – the minoritarian Anglo-Celtic subnations of Great Britain. Cliff eventually decides to move out and get married. Alison leaves her husband, if only temporarily

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Speaking of Ireland

) immediately suffers the distancing institutionality which fractures the ‘object’ of discourse from the voice which speaks it and which it attempts to make its own, simultaneous ‘subject’. So for both Memmi and Spivak, the very moment at which ‘marginality’ is articulated is the moment at which its purity founders. In remembering the anecdote about Michelet, Bataille ‘embodies’ this dilemma; the impossibility of an authoritative margin. And Bataille thus ennobles the pathos of Michelet’s solution – Michelet, constantly ‘feeling’ history as personal physiological trauma

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Contemporary Irish and Scottish fiction

the margins – from Ireland to Scotland and back again – which threatens to ‘short-circuit the colonial divide’ (1996: 180). This concept of unapproved roads is one to which we shall return as we examine the ways in which contemporary writers also cross and map a terrain that does not require polarisation with a ‘core’ to give it significance. At the same time, however, Scott’s understanding of the peculiar merits of Edgeworth’s art is cast in terms which were to encumber much subsequent Irish and Scottish fiction. The merit of Castle Rackrent, it appears, is that it

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Crossing the (English) language barrier

). Across the margins, close to the edge, lands of missing middles and double sore hearts, hampered and askew. Ireland, verses, Scotland. But one person’s margin is another’s metropolis. As Colin Nicholson points out: Scotland continues to experience, and must perforce struggle with, the imperatives of a homogenizing culture emanating from London and the south-east of England, still imperially powerful over the domestic territories of the British Isles. Such metropolitan systems of culture marginalise whatever divergences happen to exist on so-called ‘peripheries’. But

in Across the margins
De-scribing Imperial identity from alien to migrant

terms such as private/public, progression/regression, belonging/alienation, custom/ power, order/licence, justice/injustice. For Bhabha, it is at the intersection of each of these pairs of conflictual articulations, not in their resolution, that the nation inheres. Arguing that the nation is also revealed in its margins, he proposes that a nation is less defined by its distinctions from an ‘other’ that is outside it than by narratives at the inward and outward facing boundaries between cultures and texts. To take a further example, Edward Said has maintained in

in Across the margins