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By Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth

Around the Margins deals a comparative, theoretically educated research of the cultural formation of the Atlantic Archipelago. In its total notion and in particular contributions, this assortment demonstrates some great benefits of operating around the disciplines of heritage, geography, literature, and cultural reviews. It additionally offers new configurations of cultural types hitherto linked to in particular nationwide and sub-national literatures.

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Additional resources for Across The Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the Atlantic Archipelago

Example text

Moving towards the people and towards him-self, Michelet vainly but heroically empties the heroism of history, questions his own heroism, and keeps ‘the people’ from the text. Michelet’s example is no solution to the question of how the act of representing ‘the people’ can be made transparent; what he stands as, through Barthes, is a statement of the nature of the difficulties which Spivak sees post-colonial and post-structuralist radicalism constantly evading. Michelet frankly acknowledges the attraction of ‘warmth’ over ‘light’; light being a ‘critical idea [which] implies culture and brightness’, while warmth is ‘a phenomenon of depth; it is the sign of the mass, of the innumerable, of the people, of the barbarian’ (Barthes 1987 [1954]: 184).

The remainder of this chapter attempts, firstly, to see how the impossibility of speaking ‘Ireland’ underlies critical writing Norquay_03_Ch2 35 22/3/02, 9:46 am 36 Theorising identities about Ireland, and secondly, how this aporetic ‘Ireland’ implicates itself in the self of the critical voice which seeks it out. In Irish criticism, the ‘crossing of margins’ may initially seem to suggest a metaphoric critical vocabulary based on a kind of cultural geography. However, such spatial conceptualisations of radical critique also cover a fundamental critical anxiety about the ‘crossing’ out of the category of the intellectual which the intellectual voice must undertake as soon as it speaks of that cultural geography.

Ireland, verses, Scotland. But one person’s margin is another’s metropolis. As Colin Nicholson points out: Scotland continues to experience, and must perforce struggle with, the imperatives of a homogenizing culture emanating from London and the south-east of England, still imperially powerful over the domestic territories of the British Isles. Such metropolitan systems of culture marginalise whatever divergences happen to exist on so-called ‘peripheries’. But for those who live there these peripheries are centres.

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