‘Strange things so probably told’
Gender, sexual difference and knowledge in Bacon’s New Atlantis
in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis

This chapter raises few theoretical issues about the New Atlantis, Francis Bacon's epistemology and its link to gender and sexual difference. It aims to re-historicise the marshalling of gender in the New Atlantis. The chapter argues that the structural placing of gender issues crucially determines our interpretations. It then assesses Bacon's literal and symbolic use of gender difference in the light of his utopian discourse. Bacon uses a consistent rhetorical technique for the inversions: travelogue narrative conventions, followed by a shift of perspective through purportive new eye-witness evidence. By masculinising what is usually female, Bacon continues to displace the Euro-centric construction of the relationship of man to land, and additionally asserts the island's impenetrable status. The Baconian parallel between children and technology offers an additional symbolic frame for sexual reproduction in Bensalem.

Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis

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Editor: Bronwen Price


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