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Postcolonial Cultures and Literatures

Modernity and the (Un)Commonwealth


Andrew Benjamin, Tony Davies and Robbie B.H. Goh

National identities, like nations themselves, have complex and troubled histories. In the case of the British nation, history and identity are not a simple matter of a progression through political consolidation, industrialization, and imperialism, but involve narratives of displacement, alterities, dislocation, and abiding conflict. The essays in this book trace the remnant presences of these conflicts and, in the process, revisit the notion of the modern nation. With decolonization, nations in the former Commonwealth inevitably inherit the political and cultural problematics of the former colonial master. In this case, modernity is as much a matter of cultural amnesia and sublimation as it is of progress and reinvention.
Contents: Tony Davies/Robbie B. H. Goh: Introduction: Britishness and the Construction of Postcolonial Identities – Andrew Benjamin: Modernity and the Subject of National Identity – James N. Brown/Patricia M. Sant: Settling Identities: Britishness Abroad – John Phillips: British Soil: Repeat, Multiply, Address – Sue Thomas: Jean Rhys, «Human Ants,» and the Production of Expatriate Creole Identities – Desmond Allison: English Language Teaching Today: Are «British Identities» Relevant? – Tony Davies: Imported Identities: The Making of a British Ruling Class – David Punter: Contemporary Scottish Gothic: Reconstructing An Absent Nation – Bernice Schrank: Staging John Bull: British Identity and Irish Drama – Robbie B. H. Goh: Subversive Modernity: Coleridge, Gothic Imagery, the «Body Politic,» and the Contestation of the Romantic Nation-State – Barnard Turner: Edwin Morgan, Contemporary British Poetry Publishing and British Multiculturalism – Edna Lim/Valerie Wee: Industry and Identity: Filming the British Action Hero – Lauren M. E. Goodlad: Three (More) Women’s Texts and a Critique of New Historicism: Self-Disciplinary Soul-Making in Harriet Martineau, Florence Nightingale and Charlotte Brontë – Robin Loon Seong Yun: Rewriting Shakespeare and Englishness: George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra – Gwee Li Sui: The Religion of the English Bible: From Wycliffe to James I – Julie K. Eberly: Reading the Motif of Captivity: Fragmentation or Unity in Remembering Babylon – Axel Kruse: Patrick White’s Early Work: An Introduction to a Literary Puzzle – Shanthini Pillai: Beadless in a Foreign Land, or a Jouti of a New Kind: David Dabydeen’s Turner – Janet Wilson: The Abject and Sublime: Enabling Conditions of New Zealand’s Postcolonial Identity – Judith Dale: Interrogating Identity in New Zealand Stage Plays – Chitra Sankaran: Nirad C. Chaudhuri’s A Passage to England: A Site of Colonial Anxiety.