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Celtic Connections

Irish-Scottish Relations and the Politics of Culture

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Edited By Willy Maley and Alison O'Malley-Younger

While a number of published works approach the shared concerns of Ireland and Scotland, no major volume has offered a sustained and up-to-date analysis of the cultural connections between the two, despite the fact that these border crossings continue to be politically suggestive. The current collection addresses this area of comparative critical neglect, focusing on writers, from Charles Robert Maturin to Liam McIlvanney, whose work offers insights into debates about identity and politics in these two neighbour nations, too often overwhelmed by connections with their larger neighbour, England.
The essays in this collection are distinct yet connected, and are designed to come together like the intricate cross-bars and precise patterning of the plaid to capture the complexity of the Celtic connections they address. They move from pre-history to postmodernism, from Gothic to Gaelic and from Macbeth to Marxism, incorporating gender and genre, and providing a detailed survey of responses to the Irish-Scottish paradigm.

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ALISON O’MALLEY-YOUNGER Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy in Stevenson’s Gothic Ficti

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on Up the close and doon the stair Ben the hoose wi’ Burke and Hare, Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief, Knox the boy who buys the beef. — Anonymous skipping rhyme If, as Stephen Regan has pointed out, ‘we should walk the haunted halls of Irish Gothic with all the wariness of Jonathan Harker arriving in Transylvania’ (cited in Beardow and O’Malley-Younger, 2005: 69), then we should tread the hermeneutical and ideological labyrinth that is, for want of a better term, ‘Archipelagic Gothic’ with even more caution; ever-wary of the tropes, traps, traditions and tautologies which can ensnare us. Apparent ‘fundamentals’ such as ‘Irishness’ and ‘Scottishness’ are riven with ontological and episte- mological questions regarding identity and origins which can entrap us in a navel gazing, essentialist maze; while arguments over nation, narration and nativism threaten to lead us up what Seamus Deane has described as ‘a cul-de-sac with a mirror at the end’ (Deane, in Brady, 1994: 241). To combine the two in a Hiberno–Caledonian Celtic periphery runs the risk of reproducing an evaluative taxonomy grounded in exceptionalism and based on Celtic cultural cringe: in short to serve up what Paul Muldoon has described as ‘old whine in new bottles’1 from a coalition of the conquered.2 1 accessed 14 January 2011. 2 On the other hand, according to Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull (1989), The Eclipse of Scottish Culture: Inferiorism and the Intellectuals, Polygon, Edinburgh: ‘The 62 ALISON O’MALLEY-YOUNGER Added to this is the notorious indeterminacy of the...

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