Literature and Theatre

Searching for Black Queer Domesticity at Chez Baldwin

This essay argues for the importance of James Baldwin’s last house, located in St. Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, to his late works written during the productive period of 1971–87: No Name in the Street (1972), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), The Devil Finds Work (1976), Just Above My Head (1979), The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), and the unpublished play The Welcome Table (1987). That period ushered in a new Baldwin, more complex and mature as an author, who became disillusioned while growing older as a black queer American who had no choice but to live abroad to get his work done and to feel safe. Having established his most enduring household at “Chez Baldwin,” as the property was known locally, the writer engaged in literary genre experimentation and challenged normative binaries of race, gender, and sexuality with his conceptions of spatially contingent national identity. The late Baldwin created unprecedented models of black queer domesticity and humanism that, having been excluded from U.S. cultural narratives until recently, offer novel ways to reconceptualize what it means to be an American intellectual in the twenty-first-century world.

James Baldwin Review
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Coding same-sex union in Amis and Amiloun

This chapter examines the rhyme scheme of a tantalising but little studied Middle English romance, Amis and Amiloun. The poem is composed in twelve-line stanzas, rhymed AAB AAB CCB DDB, with a metrical scheme of four, four and three stresses corresponding to the rhyme. This chapter argues that view, the AAB rhyme scheme of the Middle English poem operates on both a semantic and a semiotic axis. Semantically, it designates the names of the three main characters; semiotically, it represents the relationship among those characters: two men paired (AA) but one of them also linked with the woman. This chapter also examines genre and history, and their importance for the text.

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
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Speaking of Ireland

The role of the intellectual voice in the construction of radical identities has been central to the post-colonial critique of Ireland. This chapter considers Roland Barthes' Michelet to initiate a discussion of the strategies of writing about Ireland in relation to the critical 'self' which becomes implicated in that 'Ireland'. Barthes' Michelet exemplifies the fact that 'crossing marginality' is the constitutive paradox of the radical intellectual voice. Irish critical voices find themselves in varieties of Michelet's structural predicament. The chapter examines the role which the 'warmer memory' of 'the people' crucially undertakes in the processes of a criticism which takes to itself or asserts identity politics. It discusses the 'organic' necessities of the intellectual as they are reacted against and reconstructed in James Joyce's Stephen Dedalus.

in Across the margins

The Cambridge mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell was able to articulate with extraordinary clarity a fully humanistic opposition to the Great War. At times during the war's course, Russell was truly a man alone, despite his seemingly secure position in 1914 amidst the Cambridge University establishment. To Russell, armed conflict was ‘so irrational as to be literally unthinkable’. Although later in the war he might rethink and reshape his particular pacifism and his views on the pacifism of those around him, Russell's basic opposition to the war from the outbreak of hostilities was fundamental and stemmed directly from deep personal conviction. Russell was always distrustful of politics, especially during war. Once he realised that there was little chance of bringing an early end to the war, he commenced his work on the psychology behind not only the war in progress, but also war in general. For Russell, the ‘ideal’ of patriotism was only partial and inadequate, and hence not valid.

in A war of individuals
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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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Blasons d’un corps masculin, L’Ecrivaillon and La Ligne âpre by Régine Detambel

Régine Detambel is a monster' claimed the September 1999 issue of the French magazine Marie-Claire, referring to her prolific output, which includes over 20 novels by the age of 36. Like Susan Faludi in Stiffed: The Betrayal of the Modern Man, Detambel turns her gaze in Blasons d'un corps masculin to the representation of masculinity. In La Ligne âpre, Detambel revivifies the genre of the blazons of female and male bodies by dissecting and reassembling the bone structure of the body. Detambel's dissection of the writer's body, with its attention to precise definitions, refined and renewed adjectives, and striking metaphors, is in fact a dissection of language. The writing of the writer's vocation in the novel L'Ecrivaillon ou l'enfance de l'écriture is intermingled with the writing of body parts, focusing on the writer's hands, the veins and the passion and pain flowing through the long apprenticeship of the literary profession.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France

This chapter examines the work of three beur women writers. It examines the work to establish the extent to which the highly specific socio-historical locus of the beur writer, when combined with her female subject position, may produce narrative similarities, whether formal or thematic. The works include Georgette! by Farida Belghoul, Beur's story by Ferrudja Kessas and Ils disent que je suis une beurette by Soraya Nini. By their focus on the education system, all three texts point up the pivotal role played by the socialisation process and formation of identity in beur women's writing. Beur literature only began to enjoy commercial success in the early 1980s, when a substantial number of the children of North African immigrants first reached adulthood. The designation beur is considered an example of verlan, a form of French slang involving the inversion of syllables.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
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What were the anti-war feelings chiefly expressed outside ‘organised’ protest and not under political or religious banners – those attitudes that form the raison d'être for this study? As the Great War becomes more distant in time, certain actions and individuals become greyer and more obscure, whilst others seem to become clearer and imbued with a dash of colour amid the sepia. One thinks particularly of the so-called Bloomsbury Group. The small circle of Cambridge undergraduates, whose mutual appreciation of the thoughts and teachings of the academic and philosopher G. E. Moore led them to form lasting friendships, became the kernel of what would become labelled ‘the Bloomsbury Group’. The emotions of Bloomsbury mirrored to a large extent those of its mentors. For one of the ‘fathers’ of Bloomsbury, the older Cambridge academic and humanist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, the coming of war was disastrous. This chapter looks at the views of some Bloomsbury members about the Great War, including Dickinson, Bertrand Russell, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Ottoline Morrell and Vanessa Bell.

in A war of individuals
Colonialism, Jewishness and politics in Bacon’s New Atlantis

This chapter explores whether Francis Bacon argues in the New Atlantis for England's continued imperial growth and whether he advocates a policy of Christian toleration of Jews. It focuses on the ways the New Atlantis refuses to 'speak plain' through an examination of Bacon's contradictory representations of Jewishness. The New Atlantis displays different attitudes to colonialism according to the relative civilisation and scientific sophistication of the home nation. The chapter presents the social, political, and cultural contradictions of early seventeenth-century England reflected in the New Atlantis. Bacon explicitly appropriates Scriptural quotation associated with King Solomon when he describes King Solamona's 'large heart. The fact that the New Atlantis reproduces the social contradictions and tensions of the time means that Bacon was unable to formulate unequivocal policies concerning Christian toleration of Jews and colonial endeavour.

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis

Critical readers of Francis Bacon's New Atlantis have often drawn attention to the complex relationship between the production and dissemination of enlightened scientific knowledge in Bensalem. For readers of Bacon and students of the early modern period in England more generally, the New Atlantis unavoidably raises questions concerning the relationship between censorship and knowledge. Richard Burt's Licensed by Authority argues against any clear-cut distinction between criticism and censorship, poetic liberty and licensed poetry, within the multiple and dispersed, and often equivocal and contradictory, spaces and conditions of the court and market. The censorship and criticism become self-identical terms that can be juxtaposed in a stable opposition; the critic is "opposed" to censorship. Salomon's House exemplifies in ideal terms the advancement of learning, in the context both of academic principle and institutional practice. The orderliness of the institution's academic disciplines is mismatched by that of the conduct of its officials.

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis