Literature and the literary gaze

Elizabeth McMahon, Bénédicte André

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since the time of the Columbian discoveries, island literature has become inseparable from historical, political and geographical globalisation, though as Rod Edmond and Vanessa Smith note, at the time of their writing, "islands had tended to slip the net of postcolonial theorising" (2003, p. 5). Modelling ways of reading island literature in the context of modern world-making, the following discussion will examine three of the dominant binaries by which islands have been understood and bifurcated: reality and fantasy, utopia and dystopia, isolation and connection. Our intention is twofold. First, this chapter will demonstrate the inevitable contagion between these three sets of binaries, which readily collapse if we dislocate the imperial eye. Second, it will set out some of the key issues for Literary Studies in the context of Island Studies where 'the island' is uniquely poised between real and imaginary domains. The range of literature we discuss is also limited by our own literary heritages: French and English. We have attempted to extend that range through translated texts but these are far outweighed by our own areas of expertise. What we have attempted is a cross-cultural dialogue to open a wider conversation about and between the world's literary islands.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge international handbook of island studies
Subtitle of host publicationa world of islands
EditorsGodfrey Baldacchino
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315556642
ISBN (Print)9781472483386
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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