Theses Doctoral

Anxious Records: Race, Imperial Belonging, and the Black Literary Imagination, 1900 - 1946

Collis, Victoria J.

This dissertation excavates the print and archive culture of diasporic and continental Africans who forged a community in Cape Town between 1900 and 1946. Although the writers I consider write after the Victorian era, I use the term "black Victorian" to preserve their own political investments in a late nineteenth-century understanding of liberal empire. With the abolition of slavery in 1834 across the British Empire and the Cape Colony's qualified nonracial franchise of 1853, Cape Town, and District Six in particular, took on new significance in black radicalism. By writing periodicals, pamphlets and autobiographies, black Victorians hoped to write themselves into the culture of empire. These recovered texts read uncannily, unsettling the construction of official archives as well as contemporary canons of South African, African and diasporic African literatures. By turning to the traffic of ideas between Africa and its diaspora in Cape Town, this dissertation recovers a vision of (black) modernity that had not yet succumbed to the formulations of anti-imperial nationalisms.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Edwards, Brent Hayes
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2013