Spring 2002
ISSN 1473-219X

© Imperium and the contributors 2002

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Volume three of Imperium is a themed issue which discusses notions and aspects of Englishness from a variety of disciplinary and trans/ inter/ multi-disciplinary approaches. This is the first issue devoted to a theme. In future, themes will be used to highlight particular academic or methodological areas of media and postcolonial studies for debate and discussion. Suggestions from readers for possible future topics are welcome.

The theme of Englishness has been chosen to highlight two sets of issues: the trans/ inter/ multi-disciplinary nature of construction of Englishness in the past and the present, and the contemporary postcolonial debates focused on a continuum of identities, often overlapping, extending from European citizenship to local loyalties in small towns such as Luton.

The selection of the theme of Englishness is also intended to highlight variations in the connotations that this term (or its nearest expansive connotation, Britishness) carries. The image or self-image underpinning Englishness has undergone dramatic changes, especially in the aftermath of political changes within Britain that led to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the Office of the Mayor of London, and to demands for local assemblies for the regions in the north of England. We hope that the diversity and range of views expressed in this issue of Imperium will advance our understanding of the multi-faceted manifestations of Englishness.

Recently, however, the symbolic death of England and Englishness has been much proclaimed. Tom Nairn, in his recent study, After Britain, predicts that only a new independant, vibrant Scotland can breathe new life into the moribund England. Roger Scruton, in an essay entitled England: an elegy, speaks of the ‘forbidding’ of England, highlighting the embarassment and taciturnity which strikes many critics whilst trying to position themselves within a contemporary version of England or Englishness. Recently, indeed, Richard Weight has described England as 'the last stateless nation in the United Kingdom... leaderless and adrift.' Nevertheless, there has developed almost a genre of studies in the loosely-titled ‘in search of England’ area that probe these current questions of national identity, state and nationhood.

Several articles in this volume address these issues. Stephen Woodhams probes some of the connections and contradictions in George Orwell’s studies of Empire and imperialism and of forties working-class England (which have recently also been controversially problematised in Christopher Hitchens’s Orwell’s Victory). Karen Sayer discusses complex formulations of national identity and imperialism in the children’s literature of Lucy M Boston. Martin Conboy takes Adam Thorpe’s anti-romantic pastiche of the pastoral, Ulverton, and employs the rubric of postmodernism to develop new insights into the cultural economy of rural England.

The enigmatically titled On living in William Cobbett’s and Raymond Hoggart’s Farnham discusses not only the rhetorical formulations of traditional English values in a corner of ‘leafy’ Surrey, but also the actual contemporary experience of living there. Finally, William Feighery offers a clear exposition of some current research in Tourism Studies into the image of England and the English in our Work in Progress section, and some new and challenging views on the character of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights are outlined in a review of Christopher Heywood’s new annotated edition of the novel.

The substance of this issue is largely, of course, on ‘old’ Englands. However, it is hoped in future to publish research on a variety of ‘new’ or hybrid Englands. Contributions or ideas for contributions would be welcome.

While focussing on particular themes, Imperium will also continues to provide a platform for discussion on topics or areas which, in a strict taxononomical sense, lie outside the main theme. Thus, we have articles in the current issue that focus on Guyana, Taiwan and technology in postcolonial societies, and reviews of books on violence, media coverage of war, postcolonial theory, and the sacred and the secular. It is our policy to include pieces in forms other than the traditional academic essay and from sources other than the academy. Thus, for example, we are particularly pleased to publish an article by the distinguished journalist and author, Andrew Graham-Yooll, a member of our extended editorial board, who was awarded an OBE in the recent New Year’s Honours List. We greatly appreciate the assistance of editorial board members and are pleased to welcome Professor Chandrashekhar Bhat of the University of Hyderabad, India to the board. For this issue, we additionally thank Professor Martha Pennington, Lawrence Lau and Dr John Wheatley for assistance with refereeing.

The current volume, additionally, includes a report on The Organisation of Knowledge in Victorian England conference held at the University of Cambridge and an obituary of the Scottish poet, scholar and political activist Hamish Henderson. We continue our Work in Progress feature which provides a dedicated space for developing researchers (especially Masters and Doctoral degree students) to disseminate their work to a wider audience.

The Autumn 2002 issue of Imperium will focus on interdisciplinarity as a methodological innovation (or problems with using the method) in teaching, learning, and research in the academy and beyond. We hope to broaden the debate on interdisciplinarity beyond Western academia by covering a range of intellectual traditions from different parts of the world while engaging in the specificities of formulations rooted in the intellectual history of Europe and North America in the Renaissance and post-Renaissance period. We would also like to document and discuss the experience of academics, students and administrators in colleges and universities participating in or organising interdisciplinary courses.

Articles, book reviews, conference reports, work in progress and other forms of comment on interdisciplinarity and general issues highlighted by the journal are welcome . The deadline for submission is the 31st of August 2002. Publishers, conference or course organisers, and professional bodies are welcome to submit details of their publications and activities for review or publicity.

Balasubramanyam Chandramohan
Ian Spring

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