In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelists of empire—Paul Scott, V. S. Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie—have charted the perpetually drawn and perpetually blurred boundaries of identity left in the wake of British imperialism.
Arguing against a model of cultural identity based on race, Gorra begins with Scott's portrait, in The Raj Quartet, of the character Hari Kumar—a seeming oxymoron, an "English boy with a dark brown skin," whose very existence undercuts the belief in an absolute distinction between England and India. He then turns to the opposed figures of Naipaul and Rushdie, the two great novelists of the Indian diaspora. Whereas Naipaul's long and controversial career maps the "deep disorder" spread by both imperialism and its passing, Rushdie demonstrates that certain consequences of that disorder, such as migrancy and mimicry, have themselves become creative forces.
After Empire provides engaging and enlightening readings of postcolonial fiction, showing how imperialism helped shape British national identity—and how, after the end of empire, that identity must now be reconfigured.
Allegories of Empire was first published in 1993.“Allegories of Empire re-constellates a metropolitan masterpiece, Forster’s A Passage to India, within colonial discourse studies. Sharpe, a materialist feminist, is scrupulous in her use of theory to articulate nationalism, historical race-gendering, and contemporary feminist critique.” -Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University“Jenny Sharpe has done a great service in opening up the virtually taboo subject of the rape of the white woman by the colored man, and, furthermore, in teaching us theory - making by locating this frenzy of fantasy and reality within a specific crisis of European colonialism in India. ... In showing how a ‘wild anthropology’ must continuously rework feminism in the face of racism, and vice versa, she shows how the margins of empire were and still are at its center.” -Michael Taussig, New York UniversityAllegories of Empire introduces race and colonialism to feminist theories of rape and sexual difference, deploying women’s writing to undo the appropriation of English (universal) womanhood for the perpetuation of Empire.Sharpe brings the historical memory of the 1857 Indian Mutiny to bear upon the theme of rape in British adn Anglo-Indian fiction. She argues that the idea of Indian men raping white women was not part of the colonial landscape prior to the revolt that was remembered as the savage attack of mutinous Indian soldiers on defenseless English women.By showing how contemporary theories of female agency are implicated in an imperial past, Sharpe argues that such models are inappropriate, not only for discussion of colonized women, but for European women as well. Ultimately, she insists that feminist theory must begin from difference and dislocation rather than from identity and correspondence if it is to get beyond the race-gender-class impasse.Jenny Sharpe received her Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently a professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles. She has contributed articles to Modern Fiction Studies, Genders, and boundary 2.
This wide-ranging collection brings together an eclectic group of scholars to reflect upon the transnational configurations of the field of American studies and how these have affected its localizations, epistemological perspectives, ecological imaginaries, and politics of translation. The volume elaborates on the causes of the transnational paradigm shift in American studies and describes the material changes that this new paradigm has effected during the past two decades. The contributors hail from a variety of postcolonial, transoceanic, hemispheric, and post-national positions and sensibilities, enabling them to theorize a “crossroads of cultures” explanation of transnational American studies that moves beyond the multicultural studies model. Offering a rich and rewarding mix of essays and case studies, this collection will satisfy a broad range of students and scholars.
In 1997, when the New York Times described Filipino American serial killer Andrew Cunanan as appearing “to be everywhere and nowhere,” Allan Punzalan Isaac recognized confusion about the Filipino presence in the United States, symptomatic of American imperialism’s invisibility to itself. In American Tropics, Isaac explores American fantasies about the Philippines and other “unincorporated” parts of the U.S. nation that obscure the contradictions of a democratic country possessing colonies.Isaac boldly examines the American empire’s images of the Philippines in turn-of-the-century legal debates over Puerto Rico, Progressive-era popular literature set in Latin American borderlands, and midcentury Hollywood cinema staged in Hawai‘i and the Pacific islands. Isaac scrutinizes media coverage of the Cunanan case, Boy Scout adventure novels, and Hollywood films such as The Real Glory (1939) and Blue Hawaii (1961) to argue that territorial sites of occupation are an important part of American identity. American Tropics further reveals the imperial imagination’s role in shaping national meaning in novels such as Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart (1946) and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters (1990), Filipino American novels forced to articulate the empire’s enfolded but disavowed borders.Tracing the American empire from the beginning of the twentieth century to Philippine liberation and the U.S. civil rights movement, American Tropics lays bare Filipino Americans’ unique form of belonging marked indelibly by imperialism and at odds with U.S. racial politics and culture.Allan Punzalan Isaac is assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University.
The Black Pacific Narrative: Geographic Imaginings of Race and Empire between the World Wars chronicles the profound shift in geographic imaginings that occurred in African American culture as the United States evolved into a bioceanic global power. The author examines the narrative of the “black Pacific”?the literary and cultural production of African American narratives in the face of America’s efforts to internationalize the Pacific and to institute a “Pacific Community,” reflecting a vision of a hemispheric regional order initiated and led by the United States. The black Pacific was imagined in counterpoint to this regional order in the making, which would ultimately be challenged by the Pacific War. The principal subjects of study include such literary and cultural figures as James Weldon Johnson, George S. Schuyler, artists of the black Federal Theatre Project, Langston Hughes, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Walter White, all of whom afford significant points of entry to a critical understanding of the stakes of the black Pacific narrative. Adopting an approach that mixes the archival and the interpretive, the author seeks to recover the black Pacific produced by African American narratives, narratives that were significant enough in their time to warrant surveillance and suspicion, and hence are significant enough in our time to warrant scholarly attention and reappraisal. A compelling study that will appeal to a broad, international audience of students and scholars of American studies, African American studies, American literature, and imperialism and colonialism.
Objects of fear and fascination, cannibals have long signified an elemental "otherness," an existence outside the bounds of normalcy. In the American imagination, the figure of the cannibal has evolved tellingly over time, as Jeff Berglund shows in this study encompassing a strikingly eclectic collection of cultural, literary, and cinematic texts. Cannibal Fictions brings together two discrete periods in U.S. history: the years between the Civil War and World War I, the high-water mark in America's imperial presence, and the post-Vietnam era, when the nation was beginning to seriously question its own global agenda. Berglund shows how P. T. Barnum, in a traveling exhibit featuring so-called "Fiji cannibals," served up an alien "other" for popular consumption, while Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Tarzan of the Apes series tapped into similar anxieties about the eruption of foreign elements into a homogeneous culture. Turning to the last decades of the twentieth century, Berglund considers how treatments of cannibalism variously perpetuated or subverted racist, sexist, and homophobic ideologies rooted in earlier times. Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes invokes cannibalism to new effect, offering an explicit critique of racial, gender, and sexual politics (an element to a large extent suppressed in the movie adaptation). Recurring motifs in contemporary Native American writing suggest how Western expansion has, cannibalistically, laid the seeds of its own destruction. And James Dobson's recent efforts to link the pro-life agenda to allegations of cannibalism in China testify still further to the currency and pervasiveness of this powerful trope.
By highlighting practices that preclude the many from becoming one, these representations of cannibalism, Berglund argues, call into question the comforting national narrative of e pluribus unum.
In a radically new interpretation and synthesis of highly popular 18th- and 19th-century genres, Michelle Burnham examines the literature of captivity, and, using Homi Bhabha's concept of interstitiality as a base, provides a valuable redescription of the ambivalent origins of the US national narrative. Stories of colonial captives, sentimental heroines, or fugitive slaves embody a "binary division between captive and captor that is based on cultural, national, or racial difference," but they also transcend these pre-existing antagonistic dichotomies by creating a new social space, and herein lies their emotional power. Beginning from a simple question on why captivity, particularly that of women, so often inspires a sentimental response, Burnham examines how these narratives elicit both sympathy and pleasure. The texts carry such great emotional impact precisely because they "traverse those very cultural, national, and racial boundaries that they seem so indelibly to inscribe. Captivity literature, like its heroines, constantly negotiates zones of contact," and crossing those borders reveals new cultural paradigms to the captive and, ultimately, the reader.
Winner of the Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities, awarded by the Council of Graduate Schools
Honorable Mention for the 2019 Sonya Rudikoff Prize, awarded by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association
Civilizing War traces the historical transformation of civil war from a civil affair into an uncivil crisis. Civil war is today synonymous with the global refugee crisis, often serving as grounds for liberal-humanitarian intervention and nationalist protectionism.
In Civilizing War, Nasser Mufti situates this contemporary conjuncture in the long history of British imperialism, demonstrating how civil war has been and continues to be integral to the politics of empire. Through comparative readings of literature, criticism, historiography, and social analysis, Civilizing War shows how writers and intellectuals of Britain’s Anglophone empire articulated a “poetics of national rupture” that defined the metropolitan nation and its colonial others.
Mufti’s tour de force marshals a wealth of examples as diverse as Thomas Carlyle, Benjamin Disraeli, Friedrich Engels, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, V. S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, and Michael Ondaatje to examine the variety of forms this poetics takes—metaphors, figures, tropes, puns, and plot—all of which have played a central role in Britain’s civilizing mission and its afterlife. In doing so, Civilizing War shifts the terms of Edward Said’s influential Orientalism to suggest that imperialism was not only organized around the norms of civility but also around narratives of civil war.
Exploring the intersections of memory, gender, and the postcolonial, Colonial Memory explores the phenomenon of colonial memory through the specific genre of women’s travel writing. Building on criticism of memory and travel writing, Sarah De Mul seeks to open Dutch literature to postcolonial themes and concepts and to insert the history of the Dutch colonies and its critical recollection into the traditionally Anglophone-dominated field of postcolonial studies.
“A vividly conceived and theoretically astute reading of the complicated weavings between the past and present involved in memory work and the process of nostalgic return.”—Elleke Boehmer, University of Oxford
Colonial Strangers revolutionizes modern British literary studies by showing how our interpretations of the postcolonial must confront World War II and the Holocaust. Phyllis Lassner’s analysis reveals how writers such as Muriel Spark, Olivia Manning, Rumer Godden, Phyllis Bottome, Elspeth Huxley, and Zadie Smith insist that World War II is critical to understanding how and why the British Empire had to end.
Drawing on memoirs, fiction, reportage, and film adaptations, Colonial Strangers explores the critical perspectives of writers who correct prevailing stereotypes of British women as agents of imperialism. They also question their own participation in British claims of moral righteousness and British politics of cultural exploitation. These authors take center stage in debates about connections between the racist ideologies of the Third Reich and the British Empire.
Colonial Strangers reveals how the literary responses of key artists represent not only compelling reading, but also a necessary intervention in colonial and postcolonial debates and the canons of modern British fiction.
Conrad and Empire
Stephen Ross University of Missouri Press, 2004 Library of Congress PR6005.O4Z7883 2004 | Dewey Decimal 823.912
In Conrad and Empire, Stephen Ross challenges the orthodoxy of the last thirty years of Conrad criticism by arguing that to focus on issues of race and imperialism in Conrad’s work is to miss the larger and more important engagement with developing globalization undertaken there. Drawing on the conceptual model provided by Arjun Appadurai and by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Ross maintains that Conrad’s major novels confront an emergent new world order that replaces nation-state-based models of geopolitics with the global rule of capitalism, and shows how Conrad supplements this conceptualization by tracing the concrete effects of such a change on the psyches of individual subjects. Borrowing from Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Lacan, Ross contends that Conrad’s major novels present us with an astute vision of a truly global world order.
Devoting a chapter to each novel, the author analyzes Heart of Darkness,Lord Jim, Nostromo, and The Secret Agent to expose their social vision, their concern with individual experience, and their philosophical synthesis of the two. After showing how Conrad sets the stage, Ross considers selected characters’ personal histories and the family romances by which Conrad sheds light on individual characters’ motives, exposing the penetration of ideological forces into personal lives. He then shows how the drama of slave morality in each of the novels synthesizes their critique of social organization and their attention to personal history by revealing how each novel follows an individual character’s doomed attempt to transcend the totalizing dimensions of Empire.
Ross claims that though postcolonial criticisms of Conrad’s work have produced excellent insights, they remain inadequate to understanding its complexity. Instead, he argues, Conrad’s novels should be read for their compellingly prescient vision of a postnational world under the sway of global capitalism. Although Conrad’s vision of that world is undeniably bleak, Ross believes, his almost willful reaffirmation of the very values he has shown to be bankrupt constitutes a “weak idealism.” Consequently, Ross argues, Conrad’s fiction is profoundly ethical and pertinent to the pressing project of how to live in a bewilderingly variable world.
Domestications traces a genealogy of American global engagement with the Global South since World War II. Hosam Aboul-Ela reads American writers contrapuntally against intellectuals from the Global South in their common—yet ideologically divergent—concerns with hegemony, world domination, and uneven development. Using Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism as a model, Aboul-Ela explores the nature of U.S. imperialism’s relationship to literary culture through an exploration of five key terms from the postcolonial bibliography: novel, idea, perspective, gender, and space.
Within this framework the book examines juxtapositions including that of Paul Bowles’s Morocco with North African intellectuals’ critique of Orientalism, the global treatment of Vietnamese liberation movements with the American narrative of personal trauma in the novels of Tim O’Brien and Hollywood film, and the war on terror’s philosophical idealism with Korean and post-Arab nationalist materialist archival fiction.
Domestications departs from other recent studies of world literature in its emphases not only on U.S. imperialism but also on intellectuals working in the Global South and writing in languages other than English and French. Although rooted in comparative literature, its readings address issues of key concern to scholars in American studies, postcolonial studies, literary theory, and Middle Eastern studies.
During the nineteenth century, as millions of British citizens left for the New Worlds, hearth and home were physically moved from the heart of the empire to its very outskirts. In Domesticity, Imperialism, and Emigration in the Victorian Novel, Diana Archibald explores how such demographic shifts affected the ways in which Victorians both promoted and undermined the ideal of the domestic woman. Drawing upon works by Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, Samuel Butler, Charles Dickens, Charles Reade, and William Makepeace Thackeray, the author shows how the ideals of womanhood and home promoted by domestic ideology in many ways conflict with the argument in favor of immigration to imperial destinations.
According to Coventry Patmore and John Ruskin, and some of their contemporaries, woman’s natural domain is the home, and a woman’s fulfillment lies at the hearthside. But would any hearth do as long as it was hallowed by the presence of a domestic goddess, or was this Victorian definition of home more discriminating? Although the ideal of the domestic woman was certainly affected by these mass movements, in many texts the definition of her becomes narrow and unattainable, for she must not only be an “angel,” but she must also be English and remain at home.
A rather predictable pattern emerges in almost every Victorian novel that encounters the New Worlds: if an English hero is destined for a happy ending, he either marries an English angel-wife and brings her with him to the New World or, more often, abandons thoughts of settling abroad and returns to England to marry and establish a home. This pattern seems to support the supposedly complementary ideologies of domesticity and imperialism. England, according to imperialist dogma, was the righteous center of a powerful empire whose mission was to “civilize” the rest of the world. The purpose of the domestic “angel” was to provide the moral center of a sacred space, and what is more sacred to such a scheme than English soil? A true “angel” should be English. Despite the mass migrations of the nineteenth century, home remains fundamentally English.
The literary texts, however, reveal much ambivalence toward this domestic ideal. Often the colonial and native women were seen as foils for the English “angels” because they were much more interesting and attractive. At times, domestic and imperialist ideologies themselves conflicted. Female emigrants were desperately needed in the colonies; thus, a woman’s imperial duty was to leave England. Yet her womanly duty
told her to remain an untainted idol beside an English hearthside. The domestic ideal, then, because of its firm alliance with nationalism, seems to have been more in conflict with imperialistic ideology than heretofore supposed.
Dreaming Revolution usefully employs current critical theory to address how the European novel of class revolt was transformed into the American novel of imperial expansion. Bradfield shows that early American romantic fiction—including works by William Godwin, Charles Brockden Brown, James Fenimore Cooper, and Edgar Allan Poe—can and should be considered as part of a genre too often limited to the nineteenth-century European novel. In a spirited discussion of the works from these four authors, Bradfield argues that Americans take the class dynamics of the European psychological novel and apply them to the American landscape, reimagining psychological spaces as geographical ones.
Eclipse of Empires analyzes the nineteenth-century American fascination with what Patricia Jane Roylance calls “narratives of imperial eclipse,” texts that depict the surpassing of one great civilization by another.
Patricia Jane Roylance’s central claim in Eclipse of Empires is that historical episodes of imperial eclipse, for example Incan Peru yielding to Spain or the Ojibway to the French, heightened the concerns of many American writers about specific intranational social problems plaguing the nation at the time—race, class, gender, religion, economics. Given the eventual dissolution of great civilizations previously plagued by these very same problems, many writers, unlike those who confidently emphasized U.S. exceptionalism, exhibited both an anxiety about the stability of American society and a consistent practice of self-scrutiny in identifying the national defects that they felt could precipitate America’s decline.
Roylance studies, among other texts, James Fenimore Cooper’s The Water-Witch (1830) and The Bravo (1831), which address the eclipse of Venice by New York City as a maritime power in the eighteenth century; William Hickling Prescott’s Conquest of Peru (1847), which responds to widespread anxiety about communist and abolitionist threats to the U.S. system of personal property by depicting Incan culture as a protocommunist society doomed to failure; and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha (1855), which resists the total eclipse of Ojibwa culture by incorporating Ojibway terms and stories into his poem and by depicting the land as permanently marked by their occupation.
Throughout its history, the city of Rome has inspired writers to describe its majesty, to situate themselves within its sweeping landscape, and to comment upon its contribution to their own identity. The Roman elegiac poet Propertius was one such author. This final published collection, issued in 16 BCE, has been traditionally read as an abandonment by Propertius of his earlier flippant love poems for a more mature engagement with Roman public life or else a comical send-up of imperial policies as embodied in Rome’s public buildings. The relationship between poet and city is complicated at every turn with the presence in the background of the emperor Augustus, whose sustained artistic patronage of Roman monuments brought about the most pervasive transformation that the cityscape had yet seen.
The Elegiac Cityscape explores Propertius’ Rome and the various ways his poetry about the city illuminates the dynamic relationship between one individual and his environment. Combining the approaches of archaeology and literary criticism, Tara S. Welch examines how Propertius’ poems on Roman places scrutinize the monumentalization of various ideological positions in Rome, as they poke and prod Rome’s monuments to see what further meanings they might admit. The result is a poetic book rife with different perspectives on the eternal city, perspectives that often call into question any sleepy or complacent adherence to Rome’s traditional values.
"The Empire Inside is unique in its tight focus on the objects from one geographical location, and their deployment in one genre of fiction. This combination results in a powerful study with a wealth of fine formal analyses of literary texts and a similar trove of marvelous historical data."
---Elaine Freedgood, New York University
"In The Empire Inside, Suzanne Daly does a wonderful job integrating an array of primary materials, especially novels and journal essays, to show the extent to which these ‘foreign’ colonial products of India represented absolutely central aspects of domestic life, at once part of the unremarkable everyday experience of Victorians and rich with meanings."
---Timothy Carens, College of Charleston
By the early nineteenth century, imperial commodities had become commonplace in middle-class English homes. Such Indian goods as tea, textiles, and gemstones led double lives, functioning at once as exotic foreign artifacts and as markers of proper Englishness. The Empire Inside: Indian Commodities in Victorian Domestic Novels reveals how Indian imports encapsulated new ideas about both the home and the world in Victorian literature and culture. In novels by Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope, the regularity with which Indian commodities appear bespeaks their burgeoning importance both ideologically and commercially. Such domestic details as the drinking of tea and the giving of shawls as gifts point us toward suppressed connections between the feminized realm of private life and the militarized realm of foreign commerce.
Tracing the history of Indian imports yields a record of the struggles for territory and political power that marked the coming-into-being of British India; reading the novels of the period for the ways in which they infuse meaning into these imports demonstrates how imperialism was written into the fabric of everyday life in nineteenth-century England. Situated at the intersection of Victorian studies, material cultural studies, gender studies, and British Empire studies, The Empire Inside is written for academics, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates in all of these fields.
Suzanne Daly is Associate Professor of English, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Through a detailed unpacking of the castaway genre’s appeal in English literature, Empire Islands forwards our understanding of the sociopsychology of British Empire. Rebecca Weaver-Hightower argues convincingly that by helping generations of readers to make sense of—and perhaps feel better about—imperial aggression, the castaway story in effect enabled the expansion and maintenance of European empire.Empire Islands asks why so many colonial authors chose islands as the setting for their stories of imperial adventure and why so many postcolonial writers “write back” to those island castaway narratives. Drawing on insightful readings of works from Thomas More’s Utopia to Caribbean novels like George Lamming’s Water with Berries, from canonical works such as Robinson Crusoe and The Tempest to the lesser-known A Narrative of the Life and Astonishing Adventures of John Daniel by Ralph Morris, Weaver-Hightower examines themes of cannibalism, piracy, monstrosity, imperial aggression, and the concept of going native. Ending with analysis of contemporary film and the role of the United States in global neoimperialism, Weaver-Hightower exposes how island narratives continue not only to describe but to justify colonialism.Rebecca Weaver-Hightower is assistant professor of English and postcolonial studies at the University of North Dakota.
Exceptional State analyzes the nexus of culture and contemporary manifestations of U.S. imperialism. The contributors, established and emerging cultural studies scholars, define culture broadly to include a range of media, literature, and political discourse. They do not posit September 11, 2001 as the beginning of U.S. belligerence and authoritarianism at home and abroad, but they do provide context for understanding U.S. responses to and uses of that event. Taken together, the essays stress both the continuities and discontinuities embodied in a present-day U.S. imperialism constituted through expressions of millennialism, exceptionalism, technological might, and visions of world dominance.
The contributors address a range of topics, paying particular attention to the dynamics of gender and race. Their essays include a surprising reading of the ostensibly liberal movies Wag the Dog and Three Kings, an exploration of the rhetoric surrounding the plan to remake the military into a high-tech force less dependent on human bodies, a look at the significance of the popular Left Behind series of novels, and an interpretation of the Abu Ghraib prison photos. They scrutinize the national narrative created to justify the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the ways that women in those countries have responded to the invasions, the contradictions underlying calls for U.S. humanitarian interventions, and the role of Africa in the U.S. imperial imagination. The volume concludes on a hopeful note, with a look at an emerging anti-imperialist public sphere.
Contributors. Omar Dahbour, Ashley Dawson, Cynthia Enloe, Melani McAlister, Christian Parenti, Donald E. Pease, John Carlos Rowe, Malini Johar Schueller, Harilaos Stecopoulos
In Experiments with Empire Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of knowing the colonial and postcolonial world. Focusing on novels, films, and ethnographies that combine fictive elements and anthropological methods and modes of thought, Izzo shows how empire gives ethnographic fictions the raw materials for thinking beyond empire's political and epistemological boundaries. In works by French surrealist writer Michel Leiris and filmmaker Jean Rouch, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, and others, anthropology no longer functions on behalf of imperialism as a way to understand and administer colonized peoples; its relationship with imperialism gives writers and artists the opportunity for textual experimentation and political provocation. It also, Izzo contends, helps readers to better make sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.
Tales of child sacrifice, demon lovers, incestual relations, and returns from the dead are part of English and Irish gothic literature. Such recurring tropes are examined in this pioneering study by Margot Gayle Backus to show how Anglo-Irish gothic works written from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries reflect the destructive effects of imperialism on the children and later descendents of Protestant English settlers in Ireland. Backus uses contemporary theory, including that of Michel Foucault and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, to analyze texts by authors ranging from Richardson, Swift, Burke, Edgeworth, Stoker, and Wilde to contemporary Irish novelists and playwrights. By charting the changing relations between the family and the British state, she shows how these authors dramatized a legacy of violence within the family cell and discusses how disturbing themes of child sacrifice and colonial repression are portrayed through irony, satire, “paranoid” fantasy, and gothic romance. In a reconceptualization of the Freudian family romance, Backus argues that the figures of the Anglo-Irish gothic embody the particular residue of childhood experiences within a settler colonial society in which biological reproduction represented an economic and political imperative. Backus’s bold positioning of the nuclear family at the center of post-Enlightenment class and colonial power relations in England and Ireland will challenge and provoke scholars in the fields of Irish literature and British and postcolonial studies. The book will also interest students and scholars of women’s studies, and it has important implications for understanding contemporary conflicts in Ireland.
As the size of the United States more than doubled during the first half of the nineteenth century, a powerful current of anxiety ran alongside the well-documented optimism about national expansion. Heartless Immensity tells the story of how Americans made sense of their country’s constantly fluctuating borders and its annexation of vast new territories. Anne Baker looks at a variety of sources, including letters, speeches, newspaper editorials, schoolbooks, as well as visual and literary works of art. These cultural artifacts suggest that the country’s anxiety was fueled primarily by two concerns: fears about the size of the nation as a threat to democracy, and about the incorporation of nonwhite, non-Protestant regions. These fears had a consistent and influential presence until after the Civil War, functioning as vital catalysts for the explosion of literary creativity known as the “American Renaissance,” including the work of Melville, Thoreau, and Fuller, among others.
Building on extensive archival research as well as insights from cultural geographers and theorists of nationhood, Heartless Immensity demonstrates that national expansion had a far more complicated, multifaceted impact on antebellum American culture than has previously been recognized. Baker shows that Americans developed a variety of linguistic strategies for imagining the form of the United States and its position in relation to other geopolitical entities. Comparisons
to European empires, biblical allusions, body politic metaphors, and metaphors derived from science all reflected—and often attempted to assuage—fears that the nation was becoming either monstrously large or else misshapen in ways that threatened cherished beliefs and national self-images.
Heartless Immensity argues that, in order to understand the nation’s shift from republic to empire and to understand American culture in a global context, it is first necessary to pay close attention to the processes by which the physical entity known as the United States came into being. This impressively thorough study will make a valuable contribution to the fields of American studies and literary studies.
Anne Baker is Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina State University.
In 1823, President James Monroe announced that the Western Hemisphere was closed to any future European colonization and that the United States would protect the Americas as a space destined for democracy. Over the next century, these ideas—which came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine—provided the framework through which Americans understood and articulated their military and diplomatic role in the world. Hemispheric Imaginings demonstrates that North Americans conceived and developed the Monroe Doctrine in relation to transatlantic literary narratives. Gretchen Murphy argues that fiction and journalism were crucial to popularizing and making sense of the Doctrine’s contradictions, including the fact that it both drove and concealed U.S. imperialism. Presenting fiction and popular journalism as key arenas in which such inconsistencies were challenged or obscured, Murphy highlights the major role writers played in shaping conceptions of the U.S. empire.
Murphy juxtaposes close readings of novels with analyses of nonfiction texts. From uncovering the literary inspirations for the Monroe Doctrine itself to tracing visions of hemispheric unity and transatlantic separation in novels by Lydia Maria Child, Nathaniel Hawthorne, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Lew Wallace, and Richard Harding Davis, she reveals the Doctrine’s forgotten cultural history. In making a vital contribution to the effort to move American Studies beyond its limited focus on the United States, Murphy questions recent proposals to reframe the discipline in hemispheric terms. She warns that to do so risks replicating the Monroe Doctrine’s proprietary claim to isolate the Americas from the rest of the world.
Illuminates the intersections between colonial thought and homosexuality.
An exploration of the intersection of colonialism and homosexuality in fiction and travel writing from Robinson Crusoe to the present, this volume brings together two dynamic fields of academic inquiry: colonial discourse analysis, which considers literary texts as expressions of colonial power; and queer theory, which interrogates the representation, enforcement, and subversions of sexualities in literature and culture.
These writers reexamine the work of Kipling, Conrad, Forster, Lessing, and others, ranging from male adventure stories to postcolonial novels. This volume will provoke and inform readers concerned with gender and sexuality, colonial history and literature, or with any of the works and authors revisited-and reexperienced-here.
Contributors: Anjali Arondekar, John C. Beynon, Joseph A. Boone, Sarah Cole, Lois Cucullu, Maria Davidis, Dennis Denisoff, Mark Forrester, Terry Goldie, Christopher Lane, Tim Middleton, Hans Turley.
Philip Holden is assistant professor of English at the National University of Singapore. Richard J. Ruppel is professor and chair in the Department of English at Viterbo University.
Imperial Fictions explores ways in which writers from late antiquity to the present have imagined communities before and beyond the nation-state. It takes as its point of departure challenges to the discrete nation-state posed by globalization, migration, and European integration today, but then circles back to the beginnings of European history after the fall of the Roman Empire. Unlike nationalist literary historians of the nineteenth century, who sought the tribal roots of an allegedly homogeneous people, this study finds a distant mirror of analogous processes today in the fluid mixtures and movements of peoples. Imperial Fictions argues that it is time to stop thinking about today’s multicultural present as a deviation from a culturally monolithic past. We should rather consider the various permutations of “German” identities that have been negotiated within local and imperial contexts from the early Middle Ages to the present.
In a groundbreaking work of “New Americanist” studies, John R. Eperjesi explores the cultural and economic formation of the Unites States relationship to China and the Pacific Rim in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Eperjesi examines a variety of texts to explore the emergence of what Rob Wilson has termed the “American Pacific.” Eperjesi shows how works ranging from Frank Norris’ The Octopus to the Journal of the American Asiatic Association, from the Socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason to the travel writings of Jack and Charmain London, and from Maxine Hong Kingston’s China Men to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—and the cultural dynamics that produced them—helped construct the myth of the American Pacific. By construing the Pacific Rim as a unified region binding together the territorial United States with the areas of Asia and the Pacific, he also demonstrates that the logic of the imperialist imaginary suggested it was not only proper but even incumbent upon the United States to exercise both political and economic influence in the region. As Donald E. Pease notes in his foreword, “by reading foreign policy and economic policy as literature, and by reconceptualizing works of American literature as extenuations of foreign policy and economic theory,” Eperjesi makes a significant contribution to studies of American imperialism.
Colonialism left an indelible mark on writers from the Caribbean. Many of the mid-century male writers, on the eve of independence, looked to England for their models. The current generation of authors, many of whom are women, have increasingly looked—and relocated—to the United States. Incorporating postcolonial theory, West Indian literature, feminist theory, and African American literary criticism, Making Men carves out a particular relationship between the Caribbean canon—as represented by C. L. R. James and V. S. Naipaul, among others—and contemporary Caribbean women writers such as Jean Rhys, and Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Michelle Cliff, who now live in the United States.
Discussing the canonical Caribbean narrative as it reflects national identity under the domination of English cultural authority, Belinda Edmondson focuses particularly on the pervasive influence of Victorian sensibilities in the structuring of twentieth-century national identity. She shows that issues of race and English constructions of masculinity not only are central to West Indian identity but also connect Caribbean authorship to the English literary tradition. This perspective on the origins of West Indian literary nationalism then informs Edmondson’s search for female subjectivity in current literature by West Indian women immigrants in America. Making Men compares the intellectual exile of men with the economic migration of women, linking the canonical male tradition to the writing of modern West Indian women and exploring how the latter write within and against the historical male paradigm in the continuing process of national definition. With theoretical claims that invite new discourse on English, Caribbean, and American ideas of exile, migration, race, gender identity, and literary authority, Making Men will be informative reading for those involved with postcolonial theory, African American and women’s studies, and Caribbean literature.
Melodrama is often seen as a blunt aesthetic tool tainted by its reliance on improbable situations, moral binaries, and overwhelming emotion, features that made it a likely ingredient of British imperial propaganda during the late nineteenth century. Yet, through its impact on many late-Victorian genres outside of the theater, melodrama developed a complicated relationship with British imperial discourse.
Melodramatic Imperial Writing positions melodrama as a vital aspect of works that underscored the contradictions and injustices of British imperialism. Beyond proving useful for authors constructing imperialist fantasies or supporting unjust policies, the melodramatic mode enabled writers to upset narratives of British imperial destiny and racial superiority.
Neil Hultgren explores a range of texts, from Dickens’s writing about the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion to W. E. Henley’s imperialist poetry and Olive Schreiner’s experimental fiction, in order to trace a new and complex history of British imperialism and the melodramatic mode in late-Victorian writing.
This collection of essays by renowned literary scholars offers a sustained and comprehensive account of the relation of British and Irish literary modernism to colonialism. Bringing postcolonial studies into dialogue with modernist studies, the contributors move beyond depoliticized appreciations of modernist aesthetics as well as the dismissal of literary modernism as irredeemably complicit in the evils of colonialism. They demonstrate that the modernists were not unapologetic supporters of empire. Many were avowedly and vociferously opposed to colonialism, and all of the writers considered in this volume were concerned with the political and cultural significance of colonialism, including its negative consequences for both the colonizer and the colonized.
Ranging over poetry, fiction, and criticism, the essays provide fresh appraisals of Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, E. M. Forster, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Evelyn Waugh, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard. The essays that bookend the collection connect the modernists to their Victorian precursors, to postwar literary critics, and to postcolonial poets. The rest treat major works written or published between 1899 and 1939, the boom years of literary modernism and the period during which the British empire reached its greatest geographic expanse. Among the essays are explorations of how primitivism figured in the fiction of Lawrence and Lewis; how, in Ulysses, Joyce used modernist techniques toward anticolonial ends; and how British imperialism inspired Conrad, Woolf, and Eliot to seek new aesthetic forms appropriate to the sense of dislocation they associated with empire.
Contributors. Nicholas Allen, Rita Barnard, Richard Begam, Nicholas Daly, Maria DiBattista, Ian Duncan, Jed Esty, Andrzej Gąsiorek, Declan Kiberd, Brian May, Michael Valdez Moses, Jahan Ramazani, Vincent Sherry
New Science, New World
Denise Albanese Duke University Press, 1996 Library of Congress PR438.S35A43 1996 | Dewey Decimal 820.9356
In New Science, New World Denise Albanese examines the discursive interconnections between two practices that emerged in the seventeenth century—modern science and colonialism. Drawing on the discourse analysis of Foucault, the ideology-critique of Marxist cultural studies, and de Certeau’s assertion that the modern world produces itself through alterity, she argues that the beginnings of colonialism are intertwined in complex fashion with the ways in which the literary became the exotic “other” and undervalued opposite of the scientific. Albanese reads the inaugurators of the scientific revolution against the canonical authors of early modern literature, discussing Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems and Bacon’s New Atlantis as well as Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She examines how the newness or “novelty” of investigating nature is expressed through representations of the New World, including the native, the feminine, the body, and the heavens. “New” is therefore shown to be a double sign, referring both to the excitement associated with a knowledge oriented away from past practices, and to the oppression and domination typical of the colonialist enterprise. Exploring the connections between the New World and the New Science, and the simultaneously emerging patterns of thought and forms of writing characteristic of modernity, Albanese insists that science is at its inception a form of power-knowledge, and that the modern and postmodern division of “Two Cultures,” the literary and the scientific, has its antecedents in the early modern world. New Science, New World makes an important contribution to feminist, new historicist, and cultural materialist debates about the extent to which the culture of seventeenth-century England is proto-modern. It will offer scholars and students from a wide range of fields a new critical model for historical practice.
Examines the political and literary uses of the Trojan legend in the medieval period.
England in the late fourteenth century witnessed a large-scale social revolt, a lingering and seemingly hopeless war with France, and fierce factional conflicts in royal politics and London civic government--struggles in which all parties sought to justify their actions by claiming historical precedent. How the Trojan legend figured in these claims--and in competing assertions of authorial legitimacy, nationhood, and rule in the later Middle Ages--is the complex nexus of history, myth, literature, and identity that Sylvia Federico explores in this ambitious book.
During the late medieval period, many European political and social groups took great pains to associate themselves with the ancient city; the claim on Troy, Federico asserts, was crucial to nationhood and was always a political act. Her book examines the poetry and prose of several late medieval authors, focusing particularly on how Chaucer's use of the Trojan legend helped to set the terms by which the Ricardian and Lancastrian periods were distinguished, and further helped to establish English literary history as a noble precedent in its own right. Federico's book affords remarkable insight into the workings of the medieval historical imagination.
Sylvia Federico has taught at Washington State University and the University of Leeds. She currently lives in Maine.
The first comprehensive account of the relation of collections of imperial beasts to narrative practices in England, The Novel and the Menagerie explores an array of imaginative responses to the empire as a dominant, shaping factor in English daily life. Kurt Koenigsberger argues that domestic English novels and collections of zoological exotica (especially zoos, circuses, traveling menageries, and colonial and imperial exhibitions) share important aesthetic strategies and cultural logics: novels about English daily life and displays featuring collections of exotic animals both strive to relate Englishness to a larger empire conceived as an integrated whole.
Koenigsberger’s investigations range from readings of novels by authors such as Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, and Angela Carter to analyses of ballads, handbills, broadsides, and memoirs of showmen. Attending closely to the collective English practices of imagining and delineating the empire as a whole, The Novel and the Menagerie works at the juncture of literary criticism, colonial discourse studies, and cultural analysis to historicize the notion of totality in the theory and practice of the English novel. In exploring the shapes of the novel in England and of the English institutions that collected exotic animals, it offers fresh readings of familiar literary texts and opens up new ways of understanding the character of imperial Englishness across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
This innovative look at previously neglected poetry in British America represents a major contribution to our understanding of early American culture. Spanning the period from the Glorious Revolution (1690) to the end of King George's War (1750), this study critically reconstitutes the literature of empire in the thirteen colonies, Canada, and the West Indies by investigating over 300 texts in mixed print and manuscript sources, including poems in pamphlets and newspapers.
British America's poetry of empire was dominated by three issues: mercantilism's promise that civilization and wealth would be transmitted from London to the provinces; the debate over the extent of metropolitan prerogatives in law and commerce when they obtruded upon provincial rights and interests; and the argument that Britain's imperium pelagi was an ethical empire, because it depended upon the morality of trade, while the empires of Spain and France were immoral empires because they were grounded upon conquest. In discussing these issues, Shields provides a virtual anthology of poems long lost to students of American literature.
“The strength of Empire,” wrote Ben Jonson, “is in religion.” In Reforming Empire, Christopher Hodgkins takes Jonson’s dictum as his point of departure, showing how for more than four centuries the Protestant imagination gave the British Empire its main paradigms for dominion and also, ironically, its chief languages of anti-imperial dissent. From Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene to Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King,” English literature about empire has turned with strange constancy to themes of worship and idolatry, atrocity and deliverance, slavery and service, conversion, prophecy, apostasy, and doom.
Focusing on the work of the Protestant imagination from the Renaissance origins of English overseas colonization through the modern end of England’s colonial enterprise, Hodgkins organizes his study around three kinds of religious binding—unification, subjugation, and self-restraint. He shows how early modern Protestants like Hakluyt and Spenser reformed the Arthurian chronicles and claimed to inherit Rome’s empire from the Caesars: how Ralegh and later Cromwell imagined a counterconquest of Spanish America, and how Milton’s Satan came to resemble Cortés; how Drake and the fictional Crusoe established their status as worthy colonial masters by refusing to be worshiped as gods; and how seventeenth-century preachers, poets, and colonists moved haltingly toward a racist metaphysics—as Virginia began by celebrating the mixed marriage of Pocahontas but soon imposed the draconian separation of the Color Line.
Yet Hodgkins reveals that Tudor-Stuart times also saw the revival of Augustinian anti-expansionism and the genesis of Protestant imperial guilt. From the start, British Protestant colonialism contained its own opposite: a religion of self-restraint. Though this conscience often was co-opted or conscripted to legitimize conquests and pacify the conquered, it frequently found memorable and even fierce literary expression in writers such as Shakespeare, Daniel, Herbert, Swift, Johnson, Burke, Blake, Austen, Browning, Tennyson, Conrad, Forster, and finally the anti-Protestant Waugh. Written in a lively and accessible style, Reforming Empire will be of interest to all scholars and students of English literature.
The white man's burden, darkest Africa, the seduction of the primitive: such phrases were widespread in the language Western empires used to talk about their colonial enterprises. How this language itself served imperial purposes--and how it survives today in writing about the Third World--are the subject of David Spurr's book, a revealing account of the rhetorical strategies that have defined Western thinking about the non-Western world. Despite historical differences among British, French, and American versions of colonialism, their rhetoric had much in common. The Rhetoric of Empire identifies these shared features—images, figures of speech, and characteristic lines of argument—and explores them in a wide variety of sources. A former correspondent for the United Press International, the author is equally at home with journalism or critical theory, travel writing or official documents, and his discussion is remarkably comprehensive. Ranging from T. E. Lawrence and Isak Dineson to Hemingway and Naipaul, from Time and the New Yorker to the National Geographic and Le Monde, from journalists such as Didion and Sontag to colonial administrators such as Frederick Lugard and Albert Sarraut, this analysis suggests the degree to which certain rhetorical tactics penetrate the popular as well as official colonial and postcolonial discourse. Finally, Spurr considers the question: Can the language itself—and with it, Western forms of interpretation--be freed of the exercise of colonial power? This ambitious book is an answer of sorts. By exposing the rhetoric of empire, Spurr begins to loosen its hold over discourse about—and between—different cultures.
The Rhetoric of English India
Sara Suleri Goodyear University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress PR9484.3.S85 1992 | Dewey Decimal 820.93254
Tracing a genealogy of colonial discourse, Suleri focuses on paradigmatic moments in the multiple stories generated by the British colonization of the Indian subcontinent. Both the literature of imperialism and its postcolonial aftermath emerge here as a series of guilty transactions between two cultures that are equally evasive and uncertain of their own authority.
"A dense, witty, and richly allusive book . . . an extremely valuable contribution to postcolonial cultural studies as well as to the whole area of literary criticism."—Jean Sudrann, Choice
One of the most common scenes in Augustan and Romantic literature is that of a writer confronting some emblem of change and loss, most often the remains of a vanished civilization or a desolate natural landscape. Ruins and Empire traces the ruin sentiment from its earliest classical and Renaissance expressions through English literature to its establishment as a dominant theme of early American art.
In The Ruling Passion, Christopher Lane examines the relationship between masculinity, homosexual desire, and empire in British colonialist and imperialist fictions at the turn of the twentieth century. Questioning the popular assumption that Britain’s empire functioned with symbolic efficiency on sublimated desire, this book presents a counterhistory of the empire’s many layers of conflict and ambivalence. Through attentive readings of sexual and political allegory in the work of Kipling, Forster, James, Beerbohm, Firbank, and others—and deft use of psychoanalytic theory—The Ruling Passion interprets turbulent scenes of masculine identification and pleasure, power and mastery, intimacy and antagonism. By foregrounding the shattering effects of male homosexuality and interracial desire, and by insisting on the centrality of unconscious fantasy and the death drive, The Ruling Passion examines the startling recurrence of colonial failure in narratives of symbolic doubt and ontological crisis. Lane argues compellingly that Britain can progress culturally and politically only when it has relinquished its residual fantasies of global mastery.
A wide-ranging study of empire, religious prophecy, and nationalism in literature, Russia’s Rome: Imperial Visions, Messianic Dreams, 1890–1940 provides the first examination of Russia’s self-identification with Rome during a period that encompassed the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and the rise of the Soviet state. Analyzing Rome-related texts by six writers—Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, Valerii Briusov, Aleksandr Blok, Viacheslav Ivanov, Mikhail Kuzmin, and Mikhail Bulgakov—Judith E. Kalb argues that the myth of Russia as the “Third Rome” was resurrected to create a Rome-based discourse of Russian national identity that endured even as the empire of the tsars declined and fell and a new state replaced it.
Russia generally finds itself beyond the purview of studies concerned with the ongoing potency of the classical world in modern society. Slavists, for their part, have only recently begun to note the influence of classical civilization not only during Russia’s neo-classical eighteenth century but also during its modernist period. With its interdisciplinary scope, Russia’s Rome fills a gap in both Russian studies and scholarship on the classical tradition, providing valuable material for scholars of Russian culture and history, classicists, and readers interested in the classical heritage.
Scotland, Britain, Empire takes on a cliché that permeates writing from and about the literature of the Scottish Highlands. Popular and influential in its time, this literature fell into disrepute for circulating a distorted and deforming myth that aided in Scotland’s marginalization by consigning Scottish culture into the past while drawing a mist over harsher realities.
Kenneth McNeil invokes recent work in postcolonial studies to show how British writers of the Romantic period were actually shaping a more complex national and imperial consciousness. He discusses canonical works—the works of James Macpherson and Sir Walter Scott—and noncanonical and nonliterary works—particularly in the fields of historiography, anthropology, and sociology. This book calls for a rethinking of the “romanticization” of the Highlands and shows that Scottish writing on the Highlands reflects the unique circumstances of a culture simultaneously feeling the weight of imperial “anglobalization” while playing a vital role in its inception.
While writers from both sides of the Highland line looked to the traditions, language, and landscape of the Highlands to define their national character, the Highlands were deemed the space of the primitive—like other spaces around the globe brought under imperial sway. But this concern with the value and fate of indigenousness was in fact a turn to the modern.
In The Sign of the Cannibal Geoffrey Sanborn offers a major reassessment of the work of Herman Melville, a definitive history of the post-Enlightenment discourse on cannibalism, and a provocative contribution to postcolonial theory. These investigations not only explore mid–nineteenth century resistance to the colonial enterprise but argue that Melville, using the discourse on cannibalism to critique colonialism, contributed to the production of resistance. Sanborn focuses on the representations of cannibalism in three of Melville’s key texts—Typee, Moby-Dick, and “Benito Cereno.” Drawing on accounts of Pacific voyages from two centuries and virtually the entire corpus of the post-Enlightenment discourse on cannibalism, he shows how Melville used his narratives to work through the ways in which cannibalism had been understood. In so doing, argues Sanborn, Melville sought to move his readers through stages of possible responses to the phenomenon in order to lead them to consider alternatives to established assumptions and conventions—to understand that in the savage they see primarily their own fear and fascination. Melville thus becomes a narrator of the postcolonial encounter as he uncovers the dynamic of dread and menace that marks the Western construction of the “non-savage” human. Extending the work of Slavoj Zizek and Homi Bhabha while providing significant new insights into the work of Melville, The Sign of the Cannibal represents a breakthrough for students and scholars of postcolonial theory, American literary history, critical anthropology, race, and masculinity.
England and the Netherlands, Spain's imperial rivals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, imagined Spain as cruel and degenerate barbarians of la leyenda negra (the Black Legend), in league with the powers of "blackest darkness" and driven by "dark motives." In Spain's Long Shadow, Maria DeGuzman explores how this convenient demonization made its way into American culture - and proved essential to the construction of whiteness. DeGuzman's work reaches from the late eighteenth century - in the wake of the American Revolution - to the present. Surveying a broad range of texts and images from Poe's "William Wilson" and John Singer Sargent's "El Jaleo" to Richard Wright's "Pagan Spain" and Kathy Acker's Don Quixote, Spain's Long Shadow shows how the creation of Anglo-American ethnicity as specifically American has depended on the casting of Spain as a colonial alter ego. The symbolic power of Spain in the American imagination, DeGuzman argues, is not just a legacy of that nation's colonial presence in the Americas; it lives on as well in the "blackness" of Spain and Spainards - in the assigning of people of Spanish origin to an "off-white" racial category that reserves the designation of white for Anglo-Americans.By demonstrating how the Anglo-American imagination needs Spain and Spainards as figures of attraction and repulsion, DeGuzman makes a compelling and illuminating case for treating Spain as the imperial alter ego of the United States. Cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, ambitious in its chronological sweep, and elegant in its interpretation of literary and visual works, DeGuzman's book leads us to a powerful new understanding of the nature - and history - American ethnicity.
In the early 1600s, in a haunting tale titled New Atlantis, Sir Francis Bacon imagined the discovery of an uncharted island. This island was home to the descendants of the lost realm of Atlantis, who had organized themselves to seek “the knowledge of Causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.” Bacon’s make-believe island was not an empire in the usual sense, marked by territorial control; instead, it was the center of a vast general expansion of human knowledge and power.
Rosalind Williams uses Bacon’s island as a jumping-off point to explore the overarching historical event of our time: the rise and triumph of human empire, the apotheosis of the modern ambition to increase knowledge and power in order to achieve world domination. Confronting an intensely humanized world was a singular event of consciousness, which Williams explores through the lives and works of three writers of the late nineteenth century: Jules Verne, William Morris, and Robert Louis Stevenson. As the century drew to a close, these writers were unhappy with the direction in which their world seemed to be headed and worried that organized humanity would use knowledge and power for unworthy ends. In response, Williams shows, each engaged in a lifelong quest to make a home in the midst of human empire, to transcend it, and most of all to understand it. They accomplished this first by taking to the water: in life and in art, the transition from land to water offered them release from the condition of human domination. At the same time, each writer transformed his world by exploring the literary boundary between realism and romance. Williams shows how Verne, Morris, and Stevenson experimented with romance and fantasy and how these traditions allowed them to express their growing awareness of the need for a new relationship between humans and Earth.
The Triumph of Human Empire shows that for these writers and their readers romance was an exceptionally powerful way of grappling with the political, technical, and environmental situations of modernity. As environmental consciousness rises in our time, along with evidence that our seeming control over nature is pathological and unpredictable, Williams’s history is one that speaks very much to the present.
In Tropicopolitans Srinivas Aravamudan reconstructs the colonial imagination of the eighteenth century. By exploring representations of peoples and cultures subjected to colonial discourse, he makes a case for the agency—or the capacity to resist domination—of those oppressed. Aravamudan’s analysis of texts that accompanied European commercial and imperial expansion from the Glorious Revolution through the French Revolution reveals the development of anticolonial consciousness prior to the nineteenth century. “Tropicalization” is the central metaphor of this analysis, a term that incorporates both the construction of various dynamic tropes by which the colonized are viewed and the site of the study, primarily the tropics. Tropicopolitans, then, are those people who bear and resist the representations of colonialist discourse. In readings that expose new relationships between literary representation and colonialism in the eighteenth century, Aravamudan considers such texts as Behn’s Oroonoko, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Captain Singleton, Addison’s Cato, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and The Drapier’s Letters. He extends his argument to include analyses of Johnson’s Rasselas, Beckford’s Vathek, Montagu’s travel letters, Equiano’s autobiography, Burke’s political and aesthetic writings, and Abbé de Raynal’s Histoire des deux Indes. Offering a radical approach to literary history, this study provides new mechanisms for understanding the development of anticolonial agency. Introducing eighteenth-century studies to a postcolonial hermeneutics, Tropicopolitans will interest scholars engaged in postcolonial studies, eighteenth-century literature, and literary theory.
The United States of India shows how Indian and American writers in the United States played a key role in the development of anticolonial thought in the years during and immediately following the First World War. For Indians Lajpat Rai and Dhan Gopal Mukerji, and Americans Agnes Smedley, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Katherine Mayo, the social and historical landscape of America and India acted as a reflective surface. Manan Desai considers how their interactions provided a “transnational refraction”—a political optic and discursive strategy that offered ways to imagine how American history could shed light on an anticolonial Indian future.
Desai traces how various expatriate and immigrant Indians formed political movements that rallied for American support for the cause of Indian independence. These intellectuals also developed new forms of writing about subjugation in the U.S. and India. Providing an examination of race, caste, nationhood, and empire, Desai astutely examines this network of Indian and American writers and the genres and social questions that fomented solidarity across borders.
Love poetry dominated European literature during the Renaissance. Its attitudes, conventions, and values appeared not only in courtly settings but also in the transatlantic world, where cultures were being built, power exercised, and policies made. In this major contribution to our understanding of both the Age of Exploration and early modern lyric, Roland Greene argues that love poetry was not simply a reflection of the times but a means of cultural transformation.
European encounters with the Americas awakened many forms of desire, which pervaded the writings of explorers like Columbus and his contemporaries. These experiences in turn shaped colonial society in Brazil, Peru, and elsewhere. The New World, while it could be explored, conquered, and exploited, could never really be "known"—leaving Europe's desire continually unrequited and the project of empire unfulfilled.
Using numerous poetic examples and extensive historical documentation, Unrequited Conquests rewrites the relations between the Renaissance and colonial Latin America and between poetry and history.
U.S. Orientalisms is the first extensive and politicized study of nineteenth century American discourses that helped build an idea of nationhood with control over three "Orients": the "Barbary" Orient; the Orient of Egypt; and the Orient of India. Malini Johar Schueller persuasively argues that current notions about the East can be better understood as latter-day manifestations of the earlier U.S. visions of the Orient refracted variously through millennial fervor, racial-cultural difference, and ideas of Westerly empire.
This book begins with an examination of the literature of the "Barbary" Orient generated by the U.S. Algerian conflict in the late eighteenth century in the works of such writers as Royall Tyler, Susanna Rowson, and Washington Irving. It then moves on to the Near East Orientalist literature of the nineteenth century in light of Egyptology, theories of race, and the growth of missionary fervor in writers such as John DeForest, Maria Susanna Cummins, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Finally, Schueller considers the Indic Orientalism of the period in the context of Indology, British colonialism, and the push for Asian trade in the United States, focusing particularly on Emerson and Whitman. U.S. Orientalisms demonstrates how these writers strove to create an Orientalism premised on the idea of civilization and empire moving West, from Asia, through Europe, and culminating in the New World.
Schueller draws on the work of Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Rey Chow, and Judith Butler and compellingly demonstrates how a raced, compensatory "Orientalist" discourse of empire was both contested and evoked in the literary works of a wide variety of writers. The book will be of interest to readers in American history, postcolonial studies, gender studies, and literary theory.
Malini Johar Schueller is Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Florida. She is the author of The Politics of Voice: Liberalism and Social Criticism from Franklin to Kingston.
Modern scholars often find it difficult to account for the profound eccentricities in the work of William Blake, dismissing them as either ahistorical or simply meaningless. But with this pioneering study, Saree Makdisi develops a reliable and comprehensive framework for understanding these peculiarities. According to Makdisi, Blake's poetry and drawings should compel us to reconsider the history of the 1790s. Tracing for the first time the many links among economics, politics, and religion in his work, Makdisi shows how Blake questioned and even subverted the commercial, consumerist, and political liberties that his contemporaries championed, all while developing his own radical aesthetic.
A Children’s Literature Association Book Award “Honor Book”
During the nineteenth century, geography primers shaped the worldviews of Britain’s ruling classes and laid the foundation for an increasingly globalized world. Written by middle-class women who mapped the world that they had neither funds nor freedom to traverse, the primers employed rhetorical tropes such as the Family of Man or discussions of food and customs in order to plot other cultures along an imperial hierarchy.
Cross-disciplinary in nature, X Marks the Spot is an analysis of previously unknown material that examines the interplay between gender, imperial duty, and pedagogy.
Megan A. Norcia offers an alternative map for traversing the landscape of nineteenth-century female history by reintroducing the primers into the dominant historical record. This is the first full-length study of the genre as a distinct tradition of writing produced on the fringes of professional geographic discourse before the high imperial period.