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

Carol Watts

in The Cultural Work of Empire

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625642
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671717 | DOI:
Pricksongs in Gotham: or, the Sexual Oeconomy of State Imagining

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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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

Chapter.  18361 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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