Monday, May 31, 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021 12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
A new scholar book with Brontë-related content:
Josephine McDonagh
Oxford Scholarship Online
ISBN-13: 9780192895752
May 2021

Literature in a Time of Migration rethinks British fiction in the light of new practices of human mobility that reshaped the nineteenth-century world. Building on the growing critical engagement with globalization in literary studies, it confronts the paradox that at a time at which transnational human movement occurred globally, on a scale before unknown, British fiction appears to turn inward to tell stories of local places, in which stability and rootedness are rewarded. On the contrary, Literature in a Time of Migration reveals how literary works, from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the advent of the New Imperialism, were active components of a culture of colonization and emigration. Fictional texts, as print commodities, were enmeshed in technologies of transport and communication, and innovations in literary form were spurred by the conditions and consequences of human movement. Works by canonical writers (Scott, Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, and George Eliot), and other popular contemporaries (Mary Russell Mitford, John Galt, and Thomas Martin Wheeler), examine issues that overlap with an agenda set in public discussions of colonial emigration, which they also helped to shape. Debates concerning, for example, assisted emigration, ‘forced’ and ‘free’ migration, colonization, settlement, and the removal of native peoples, figure in complex ways in fictions. Read alongside writings by emigration theorists, practitioners, and enthusiasts, fictional texts reveal a sustained engagement with British migratory practices and their worldwide consequences. Literature in a Time of Migration is a timely reminder of the place and importance of migration within British cultural heritage.

The book contains the chapter:
Edward Gibbon Wakefield and Charlotte Brontë Imagine a Colony
by Josephine McDonagh

A shared interest in the practice of colonization as a form of predation and capture provides a surprising link between Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s writings about systematic colonization and Charlotte Brontë’s whimsical juvenile writings. Both present their ideas in fictional form, and their colonies as imaginative constructs. Wakefield’s theory, which was influential in shaping British colonial policy, involved transporting working-class families to Australia to establish a labour force within new settlements. To reinforce the difference between his scheme and that of chattel slavery, he emphasized the freedom of his workers. Yet his scheme entailed significant restraints of their personal liberties: their freedom of movement, association, and right to own property, as well as the requirement to marry and have children. Similar preoccupations are evident in an earlier episode in Wakefield’s biography, in which he kidnapped a young woman in order to marry her for her family’s wealth and prestige. Brontë, who was roughly the same age as Wakefield’s young victim, explores these themes explicitly in her own teenage accounts of a colony in Africa, Glass Town. Co-authored with her siblings, this intricate saga of conquest and settlement by a group of European explorers presents a juvenile commentary on contemporary colonial practices. It reveals the coercive violence within the colony, as well as the submerged erotic elements within it. It also shows the ways this same violence underpins fictional narratives, especially the marriage plots that Brontë develops in her mature works.


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