Enacting Englishness in the Victorian Period: Colonialism and the Politics of Performance

1st Edition

Angelia Poon

Routledge
Published November 11, 2016
Reference - 184 Pages
ISBN 9781138253582 - CAT# Y313291

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Summary

Angelia Poon examines how British colonial authority in the nineteenth century was predicated on its being rendered in ways that were recognizably 'English'. Reading a range of texts by authors that include Charlotte Brontë, Mary Seacole, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, and H. Rider Haggard, Enacting Englishness in the Victorian Period focuses on the strategies - narrative, illustrative, and rhetorical - used to perform English subjectivity during the time of the British Empire. Characterising these performances, which ranged from the playful, ironic, and fantastical to the morally serious and determinedly didactic, was an emphasis on the corporeal body as not only gendered, racialised, and classed, but as (in)visible, desiring, bound in particular ways to space, and marked by certain physical stylizations and ways of thinking. As she shines a light on the English subject in the act of being and becoming, Poon casts new light on the changing historical circumstances and discontinuities in the performances of Englishness to disclose both the normative power of colonial authority as well as the possibilities for resistance.

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