UCD Scholarcast - Series 4: Reconceiving the British Isles: The Literature of the Archipelago


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In his book, On the Shores of Politics, Jacques Ranciere argues that the Western Platonic project of utopian politics has been based upon 'an anti-maritime polemic'. The treacherous boundaries of the political are imagined as island shores, riverbanks, and abysses. Its enemies are the mutinous waves and the drunken sailor. 'In order to save politics', writes Ranciere, 'it must be pulled aground among the shepherds'. And yet, as Ranciere points out, this always entails the paradox that to found a new utopian island, safe from the perils of sailors and the sea, means crossing the sea once more.1 Margaret Cohen, in an article surveying the turn towards maritime themes in twenty-first century literary criticism, argues that literary scholars have historically fixed their gazes upon land, with an effort 'so spectacular that it might be called hydrophasia'. But that hydrophasia appears to be ebbing, and the new attention given to the sea, as what Hester Blum calls 'a proprioceptive point of inquiry', in Oceanic Studies, the New Atlantic Studies, and the Archipelagic paradigm gathering strength in British and Irish Studies, promises some degree of liberation from the terra firma overdeterminations of nationalism within literary studies. Series Editor: John Brannigan. Scholarcast theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey. Development: John Matthews, Brian Kelly, Vincent Hoban, Niall Watts, UCD IT Services, Media Services

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