Friday, November 19th 2004
The Crossing Boundaries Session was designed to address ways in which boundaries
conceived, redefined or crossed when appropriated in light various
geographical, linguistic, pedagogical, historical, cultural and
theological concerns. During this first Colloquium session of the academic year, we invited Brandeis Professors and graduate students to join us at Boston College. After cooperative planning by students at both universities, we were treated to a keynote address entitled "The Americanization of Yoga" by Brandeis Professor Caren Irr. Lindsay McCrory, a first year BC Masters student, presented her paper "Twisting Anxieties: Distortions, Extortions, and Contortions of Caribbean History," and Nathaniel Hodes, a PhD candidate from Brandeis, spoke on "Topological Cavendish: Spatiality and Utopian Passage in The Blazing World.” We also welcomed Brandeis Professor Tom King and Brandeis PhD students to our first roundtable discussion, which included Professor Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks, Professor Rhonda Frederick, Erin Haddad-Null, Michael Rebne, and Moderator, Professor Beth Kowaleski Wallace. Below are extracts from the two graduate papers. Please contact us for information about obtaining a complete copy of either paper from the author.
Topological Cavendish: Spatiality and Utopian Passage in The Blazing World.
From Poems and Fancies to Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World and Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, Margaret Cavendish moved from conceiving the universe as atomistic to constructing a heterogeneous, organic, non-particulate, non-hierarchical universe. In the later works, she abandoned her formula of recursively generated worlds within worlds—a model that would force the reader to dig deeper and deeper to find ever-smaller worlds—and adopted instead a far-reaching idea of interiority, where all matter is part of a sentient, restless, unified body of nature. In this later conception, the distinction between exterior and interior breaks down, so that instead of looking deeper and deeper into things for new worlds, the perspective of the observer is lost in the flux of being. The place “within” is replaced by the “interious”: to be a part of nature is to be joined to other parts. To be “without” means almost nothing, except perhaps to be divided from some parts of nature only to be joined to others. With this binary evaporated, interiority is all. She writes these later works in direct opposition to the 1665 publication of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, which purports to correct error and get closer to truth by lending primacy to observational powers over reason. In Cavendish’s opinion, Hooke’s investigations with the microscope yield mere “figures” of nature—or what we might better call “mere surface”—and not true interiority.
"Twisting Anxieties: Distortions, Extortions, and Contortions of Caribbean History" by Lindsay McCrory.