Incidental occurrences: exchanges between British and Indian women writers, 1840-1940Show full item record
|Incidental occurrences: exchanges between British and Indian women writers, 1840-1940
|Doctor of Philosophy
|My dissertation examines intellectual exchanges between British and Indian women travelers, activists, periodical essayists, and novelists writing in English from 1840 to 1940. I refuse to read these women's texts as either showing only the imperial will to rule or uniform colonial resistance. To describe the agency that women and minorities acquired, I employ Nancy Fraser's model of a ¿subaltern¿ counter-public sphere that exists alongside and often in opposition to the masculine rational public sphere posited by Habermas as the bourgeois Public Sphere. These exchanges between women in the ¿Female Public Spheres¿ were not necessarily direct contacts, but rather their cultural, political, and intellectual participation in a common discourse community. For example, in some colonial English periodicals, contributions from British and Indian women were often juxtaposed and set against the backdrop of an amalgamated international context. I argue that Victorian and Modernist women writers in their partial, fragmented, and often contradictory responses to their own and the ¿other¿ cultures formed a discourse community that indicated a complex, conflicted transnational tradition. The Female Public Sphere should be interrogated as a colonial syncretic. I draw on works such as Edward Said's Orientalism and, more recently, Priya Joshi's In Another Country and Reina Lewis' Gendering Orientalism , in disrupting the evaluation of texts through an either/or critical lens. I approach my primary texts as far more complex and vexed cultural artifacts. My methodology includes both feminist literary history and feminist literary analysis. Each chapter in my dissertation analyzes a different genre¿travel narrative, novels, and periodical essays. As a literary historian, I do extensive archival research. As well as the conventional meaning of archive, I stress, borrowing from Antoinette Burton, that archive also stands for the memories of home that each woman author enshrined in her narrative acts; from these acts, literary historians and critics can discern a variety of counter-histories of colonial modernity. As a feminist literary analyst I practice close textual reading and critical analysis of the documents that I have collected from the expanded archives of women's lives. Much like Veena Oldenburg, I define feminist in its simplest political terms as a person (and not necessarily a woman) ¿whose analytical perspective is informed by an understanding of the relationship between power and gender in any historical, social, or cultural context¿ (¿The Roop Kanwar Case: Feminist Response¿). The third-wave feminist theories (both Western and Eastern) that I employ in my analysis of subjectivity of both the female authors whose narratives I work with and the characters represented in the narratives are much indebted to Foucault's formulation of the power/knowledge and the subjectivity/agency dialectics.
|Hughes, Linda K.
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- Doctoral Dissertations