Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Coolahan, ML
Literature Compass
Whither the archipelago? Stops, starts, and hurdles on the four nations front
Optional Fields
This article assesses the impact of "the new British," or "three kingdoms," "four nations," "archipelagic" history, and literary criticism. First advocated in the 1970s by J.G.A. Pocock, and co-opted by historians and scholars of early modern literature as a means to frame and address the interactions of the four nations of Britain, the take-up on the ground has been fitful. Richard Bourke has recently argued that Pocock's original call was misunderstood by intellectual historians. This article outlines the principles and practices of archipelagic criticism, most particularly as evident in scholarship published in the past 20 years. It evaluates the advantages and shortcomings of criticism that has embraced recovery research, reassessment of canonical English authors, and the widening of geographical parameters. It concludes with a consideration of future directions and the ways in which debates surrounding Brexit are likely to impact on the field, proposing some ways forward.
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