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The Cultural Work of EmpireThe Seven Years' War and the Imagining of the Shandean State$
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Carol Watts

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625642

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625642.001.0001

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Pricksongs in Gotham: or, the Sexual Oeconomy of State Imagining

Pricksongs in Gotham: or, the Sexual Oeconomy of State Imagining

(p.109) Chapter 3 Pricksongs in Gotham: or, the Sexual Oeconomy of State Imagining
The Cultural Work of Empire

Carol Watts

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter illustrates that naming is about paternal control, and it brings with it a history of state fantasy that haunted the mid-eighteenth century. It also examines the sexual politics in order to review the complexity of the making and unmaking of the state at this time, and its particular fascination with the body political birth of ‘a BEING guarded and circumscribed with rights’. Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy organises the plotting of bastardy according to radically different principles. Its paternal crisis reflected the political anxieties of the time. For some the Wilkite critique, for all its political pertinence, was counteracted by the licentiousness that accompanied it. In Wilkite satire, the language of sodomy provides one means of projecting unrecuperable forms of material excess onto others, while retaining its own libidinous forms of exchange.

Keywords:   sexual politics, Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy, state fantasy, paternal control, Wilkite satire

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