Domestic space in the colonial fiction of Joseph Conrad and his contemporaries (1890–1920)

Ward, James William (2022) Domestic space in the colonial fiction of Joseph Conrad and his contemporaries (1890–1920). Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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My thesis examines the presentation of domestic space in the colonial fiction of Joseph Conrad and his contemporaries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I show how these writers used domestic space to think through and challenge, or alternatively uphold and reinforce, the dominant assumptions and beliefs about the colonial enterprise and about the local populations of colonised territories overseas. Across a variety of settings – including the trading station, the hotel and the ship – I show that, rather than being merely the neutral background to events, the domestic space was deeply implicated in the dominant discourse which underpinned these narratives. By exploring the shared concerns of spatial and postcolonial theory I offer new readings of familiar and unfamiliar works that explore Conrad’s critical engagement with the colonial fiction genre, whilst also highlighting the shared scepticism of some of his contemporaries concerning the official narrative of colonialism as ‘civilising mission’. At the same time, I also show how Conrad’s use of domestic space contrasts with that found in more conservative forms of colonial fiction of the period. This thesis therefore brings to light a relationship between domestic space and the colonial discourse within which these fictions operated, a relationship which has, until now, been overlooked. By drawing our attention to the diverse ways that domestic space functions in the work of these writers, this study therefore offers a fresh perspective on the work of Joseph Conrad and his contemporaries, whilst bringing to light the fundamental significance of domestic space for postcolonial studies in discussions of colonial fiction from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: postcolonial studies, colonialism, spatial theory, colonial discourses, Conrad studies
Subjects: Q300 English studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 23 May 2023 08:12
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 08:15

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