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Ethics, emotions, dreams
Author: Megan G. Leitch

Middle English literature registers intimate concerns with sleep and the spaces in which it takes place. These concerns about sleep, and the intersecting medical and moral discourses with which they engage, have been overlooked by studies more concerned with what sleep sometimes enables (dreams and dream poetry), or with what sleep sometimes stands in for or supersedes (sex). In the medieval English imagination, sleep is an embodied and culturally determined act, both performed and interpreted by characters and contemporaries; both subject to a particular habitus, and understood through particular, and pervasive, hermeneutic lenses. This book argues that sleep mediates thematic concerns and questions in ways that carry specific ethical, affective and oneiric implications in the medieval English cultural imagination, and that also offer defining contributions to different Middle English genres: romance, dream vision, drama and fabliau. Concentrating particularly on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, this book also attends to a longue durée in the literature and ideas about sleep circulating from the twelfth century to the early seventeenth. It focuses on continuities in the construction of sleep across this span – scientific, social, spiritual and spatial continuities – and explores the cultural specificity of premodern English literature’s widespread interest in sleep. Analysing the ways in which representations of sleep in a range of genres animate ethical codes and emotive scripts, this book’s contributions include establishing the significance of sleep-related motifs to Middle English romance, and offering a more embodied understanding of dream visions by Chaucer, Langland and the Pearl-poet.

Megan G. Leitch

Chapter 3, in particular, examines the literary implications of how, in a society in which beds and bedchambers were relatively scarce and protected, sleeping either in such specialised sleeping spaces, or elsewhere, entailed navigating various pleasures and dangers such as desire, detection, abduction and disease – as well as dreams. As with sleep itself, my interest in the spaces of sleep particularly concerns the ways in which they become the focus of narrative commentary and diegetic conversation. Intriguingly, when negotiating the possibility of sex in Middle English romances, it is often the spaces of sleep, rather than bodies themselves, that receive textual attention. Beds and other sleeping spaces sometimes serve as contested liminal environments in which gendered roles can become destabilised, and the spaces of sleep (like sleep itself) also stimulate diegetic interpretations of character and conduct, as when bloody bedsheets lead to accusations of adultery in Arthurian literature.

in Sleep and its spaces in Middle English literature
Literary appreciation, comparatism, and universalism in the Straits Chinese Magazine
Porscha Fermanis

This chapter considers the ways in which the Straits Chinese Magazine (est. 1897) negotiates the dual commitment to comparatism and universalism that underpinned late-nineteenth-century justifications of empire. Focusing on cultural forms of knowledge such as linguistic standardisation, vernacular education, literary appreciation, and canonicity, it argues that the idea of a ‘universal subject’ is mobilised by the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia to minimise the fetishisation of Chinese difference, to situate Chinese culture within European comparative frameworks, and to produce an equivalence of cultural judgement and taste. Yet despite its apparent investment in the logic and rhetoric of imperial liberalism, the magazine’s intense engagement with the asymmetries of liberal thought turns European comparatism on its head, encouraging a reversal of the comparative gaze and an exposition of the defective use of empirical methodologies by European comparatists. The magazine’s desire to establish commensurability between Chinese and European worlds is therefore ultimately read as part of an anticolonial project, one that exposes the Eurocentric grounds on which comparisons are made at a time when the increasingly racialised regulation of imperial citizenship undermined the possibility of self-determination for Asian subjects within the British Empire.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Elleke Boehmer

Centring its insights in the border-traversing, world-opening capacities of imaginative southern writing and reading, this chapter offers a closing meditation on some of the more elusive meanings and heuristics of the south that the collection calls up. Inspired by the same critical orientations that the collection explores, it questions the extent to which the conceptual and historical remoteness of the south can ever be fully perceived and understood in geo-epistemological terms, arguing that southness will perhaps always elude northern analysis to some degree, its local and indigenous detail always slipping just beyond the frame. Efforts to re-territorialise global intellectual production therefore face a significant philosophical challenge that cannot be solved by a critical theory predicated on dominant northern constructs. To see the ‘south in the world’ means not just contemplating the world from the various perspectives and orientations of its different southerly regions and their histories, but also looking to the side, beyond ‘centres in modernity’, towards ‘composite and overlapping’ Black and Indigenous realities. The south thus both invites and makes possible archipelagic readings and heuristics, encouraging us to think connectively and fluidly through and across its spaces. Resistance emerges out of the structural flaws, gaps, broken links, and ellipses that are endemic to any colonial-type assertion of planetary consciousness.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Antipodean life as a comparative exercise
Sarah Comyn

This chapter explores one of the most potent of the European fictions or myths surrounding the south: the Antipodes. The north’s construction of the south as upside down or back-to-front with ‘feet’ facing the ‘wrong’ direction, the Antipodes proved a powerful metaphor through which settlers in Australia could critique both the colonial political establishment and the British metropole. Examining the poetry, fiction, letters, and illustrated articles in a range of newspapers from nineteenth-century Australia, this chapter demonstrates the extent to which the cartographic, corporeal, and metaphoric inversion associated with the Antipodes not only shaped what Paul Giles identifies as a ‘heightened form of comparative consciousness’ in the southern colonies, but was also re-inscribed in newspaper depictions of settler life, moving from the map to the routines and domesticities, as well as the culture and politics, of settlers’ day-to-day experiences. A practice of antipodean reorientation could be used by people living in and writing from the south as a way of writing back to the north, challenging both the cultural hierarchies and hegemonies of the metropolitan north, and the north’s preconception of the south as topsy-turvy and belated.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Settler emigration, the voyage out, and shipboard literary production
Fariha Shaikh

This chapter explores the spatialising methodologies of shipboard periodicals produced on three ships as they voyaged between Britain and Australia across the oceanic expanses of the southern hemisphere in the mid-nineteenth century: the Sobraon, the Somersetshire, and the True Briton. By the 1860s, newspapers produced on board the ship by passengers between Britain and the Antipodes were a regular affair: fair copies of newspapers were produced by hand and distributed around the ship, or, if the ship carried a printing press, newspapers were produced at sea. This chapter embeds maritime literary culture, and the production of shipboard periodicals, within some of the key ideological frameworks of settler colonial discourse. It argues that if the production of shipboard periodicals produced sociability at sea, then this sociability was also embedded in settler discourses of race and power.

in Worlding the south
Abstract only
Glenn Gould’s contrapuntal radio
Adam J. Frank

This chapter unfolds the significance of the microphone and the studio in Glenn Gould's radio work. The studio replaced the concert stage and permitted Gould to compose in a new theatrical form: what he called contrapuntal radio, the editing together and mixing of multiple recorded voices, music and other sounds in complex, conflicted dialogue to achieve a kind of sonic density that plays at the limits of a listener's ability to follow, sort and separate meanings. Investigating these contrapuntal aesthetics in several contexts, including that of European and North American avant-garde writing on music and media (in the work of Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Marshall McLuhan), the chapter offers an affective, phenomenological approach to the studio as a way to bridge various aesthetic and political readings. The chapter listens closely to 'A Glenn Gould Fantasy', a late, seemingly minor recording that features Gould's ridiculous impersonations of fictitious music critics. From an affect-theoretical perspective the studio becomes a space of phantasy and psychic containment for Gould and his many conflicting voices that is itself contained both by the institutions that supported his work (such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and by the listener who may internalise its intimate space.

in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
Siebe Bluijs

This chapter examines the radio play’s use of collage, one of the most prominent techniques of the (neo-)avant-garde. It distinguishes collage as an artistic principle from the ‘technical’ procedure of montage – an editing technique that lies at the heart of the medium – arguing that the ‘collage radio play’ actively goes against the streamlining principle that is characteristic of the prototypical radio play. Taking the radio play’s multimodality as a starting point, this chapter explores the productive interaction between ‘textual’ and ‘audiophonic’ collage. After a theoretical discussion of collage as a transmedial concept, the chapter presents a close reading of three radio plays from Flanders and the Netherlands. Collage plays a distinctive role in these pieces: an experimental radiophonic collage piece, a radio play adaptation of a literary collage work, and a more or less conventional narrative radio play that incorporates various ‘found’ fragments. The chapter shows that the specific constraints and affordances of the radio play add new dimensions to the collage technique. Additionally, it shows that the concept is productive for radio works that fall outside the scope of the avant-garde as well.

in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
Wordlists, songs, and knowledge production on the colonial Australian frontier
Anna Johnston

Colonial linguistic studies are fascinating textual sources that reveal much about everyday life and knowledge production under frontier conditions. Gender also influenced the conditions of language learning and cultural exchange. This chapter uses the archival traces left by two women in colonial Australia to explore the relationship between language study and knowledge production, paying particular attention to linguistic texts that reveal traces of cross-cultural relationships and the Indigenous intermediaries who engaged in knowledge-making practices. Eliza Hamilton Dunlop learnt languages in New South Wales in the 1840s, and published poetry that included Indigenous vocabulary. Harriott Barlow lived on the Queensland frontier in the late 1860s, and she worked with local Indigenous people to make one of the first language studies of the region, published in one of Britain’s leading anthropological journals. These intimate exchanges on colonial frontiers reveal the imbrication of language collection, knowledge production, Indigenous engagement, and settler advocacy, and determined in what forms these issues emerged from the colonial south to influence imperial print culture.

in Worlding the south
Reading Robinson Crusoe in colonial New Zealand
Jane Stafford

This chapter examines the influence of British literary models on colonial and Indigenous readings practices. Robinson Crusoe was widely read in colonial New Zealand, and widely cited as a model for successful settlement. It was translated into te reo Māori (the Māori language) in 1852 in the hope that Crusoe’s qualities of industriousness and self-reliance might be influential. As far as can be gauged, Māori readers were cautious in their response. The colonist Henry Weekes hoped to emulate Crusoe when in 1845 he bought an island, Puketutu, in the Manakau Harbour, near Auckland. But, as he records in his journal, despite patronage and support from the local Māori of Ihumātao and the assistance of his ‘Friday’, a Pākehā (European) servant, his efforts were unsuccessful.

in Worlding the south