British masculinities, pomophobia, and the post-nation
The Union and Jack:
British masculinities, pomophobia,
and the post-nation
Starting with a general theoretical investigation into nationalist imageries
of masculine and feminine embodiment, this essay offers a tentative
outline of some of the most problematic shifts in the conceptualisation
and literary representation of man, self and nation in Britain throughout
the twentieth century. The second part of the essay comprises a close
reading of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1993 ), which is to
illustrate the syndromic inextricability
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'.
At a time when monolingualist claims for the importance of ‘speaking English’ to the national order continue louder than ever, even as language diversity is increasingly part of contemporary British life, literature becomes a space to consider the terms of linguistic belonging. Bad English examines writers including Tom Leonard, James Kelman, Suhayl Saadi, Raman Mundair, Daljit Nagra, Xiaolu Guo, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, and Caroline Bergvall, who engage multilingually, experimentally, playfully, and ambivalently with English’s power. Considering their invented vernaculars and mixed idioms, their dramatised scenes of languaging – languages learned or lost, acts of translation, scenes of speaking, the exposure and racialised visibility of accent – it argues for a growing field of contemporary literature in Britain pre-eminently concerned with language’s power dynamics, its aesthetic potentialities, and its prosthetic strangeness. Drawing on insights from applied linguistics and translation studies as well as literary scholarship, Bad English explores contemporary arguments about language in Britain – in debates about citizenship or education, in the media or on Twitter, in Home Office policy and asylum legislation – as well as the ways they are taken up in literature. It uncovers both an antagonistic and a productive interplay between language politics and literary form, tracing writers’ articulation of linguistic alienation and ambivalence, as well as the productivity and making-new of radical language practices. Doing so, it refutes the view that language difference and language politics are somehow irrelevant to contemporary Britain and instead argues for their constitutive centrality to the work of novelists and poets whose inside/outside relationship to English in its institutionalised forms is the generative force of their writing.
Tollington – or indeed in white Britain more generally – has in fact been challenged or transformed by Meena’s
Stein himself seems to begin an acknowledgement of these
limitations: he describes Meena as an indulger in fantasies, a
girl who actively ‘positions herself’.23 Yet Stein does not take
this as far as its ultimate conclusion: that the narrative itself
is part of this talent for fabrication and conscious positioning.
In the same way, BertholdSchoene-Harwood notices Meena’s
tendency for falsehoods, even quoting the part of the epigraph
I centre my
Sibling incest, class and national identity in Iain Banks’s The Steep
Approach to Garbadale (2007)
State (Oxford University
Press, 2002), p. 1–2.
Stefanie Lehner, ‘Subaltern Scotland: Devolution
and postcoloniality’ in BertholdSchoene (ed.) The Edinburgh
Companion to Scottish Literature (Edinburgh University Press,
2007), p. 300
Lea and BertholdSchoene ( Amsterdam : Rodopi , 2003 ), pp.
89 – 104 ; Hywel
Dix , ‘ Devolution and Cultural
Catch-Up ’, in Literature of an Independent England , ed.
Gardiner and Claire
Westall ( Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan , 2013 ), pp. 188 – 199 ; and
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 BertholdSchoene, which also deploys sexual difference
as a means of testing postcolonial theorising, but does so within the
context of a discourse in which bodily, social and national
Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other; or, The Prosthesis of Origin,
trans. Patrick Mensah (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).
8 Cairns Craig, ‘Beyond reason: Hume, Seth, Macmurray and Scotland’s
postmodernity’, in Eleanor Bell and Gavin Miller (eds) Scotland in
GILMOUR 9781526108845 PRINT.indd 132
Theory: Reflections on Culture and Literature (Amsterdam and New York:
Rodopi, 2004), p. 259.
9 BertholdSchoene discusses the idea of ‘postethnic’ Scottishness in ‘Going
cosmopolitan: reconstructing “Scottishness” in
global twenty-first-century experience’. This
preference for a ‘vertiginous range of locations’
(Schoene, 2009 : 143) has meant that much of the
existing criticism on Kunzru identifies his work with questions of
cosmopolitanism: BertholdSchoene ( 2009 ) reading
Transmission as an exploration of the difference between the
capital-driven forces of a homogenising globalisation and the
what BertholdSchoene has called Scotland’s
‘British postcolonial condition’ is undeniable, then so is its ambivalent and complex relationship to that condition, given the extensive
implication of Scots and Scotland in the British Empire, and the consequently ‘duplicitous, conflicting status of Scotland as both (internal
and external) colonising and colonised nation’.31 As Carla Sassi puts it,
Scotland is a ‘stateless nation’ that has constructed its identity ‘in opposition to unjust cultural and political marginalisation within the United
Kingdom’, but this