2019 Theses Doctoral
In Between Places: Fictions of British Decolonization
“In Between Places” is a study in literary geography at the end of empire. It begins from the premise that decolonization itself is a question of place and the relationship of people to places. From this premise, the dissertation explores the narrative techniques that emerge from this moment of historical transformation, in which decolonization was inevitable but not yet fully achieved. The formal elements of decolonial fiction—an emphasis on the individual transformation of place, the incorporation of narrative settings both temporary and fragile—express the ways that spatial relations were central to the political aims of late colonial and early postcolonial writers from across the globe and who express a range of complicated cultural politics. This dissertation begins with an introduction that situates British decolonial fiction in terms of theories of space and place, the transition between modernism and postcolonialism, and current critical debates surrounding forms of anticolonial critique in the twentieth century. In the subsequent four chapters, the dissertation provides case studies of the narrative fiction of Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Doris Lessing. Combining formal analysis, archival research, and literary and political history, this dissertation reconstructs the ways that colonial and postcolonial subjects respond to the places they inhabit—at the level of the room, the house, and the city. To tell this story, the chapters move from the abstract space of geopolitics to different sites within urban environments and domestic households. “In Between Places” explains how place functions aesthetically and politically; how Caribbean, African, and English sites were physically marked by colonialism; and how midcentury writers of decolonization used literary setting to resist myths of imperial belonging as well as to uphold them.
This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2021-08-26.
More About This Work
- Academic Units
- English and Comparative Literature
- Thesis Advisors
- Hart, Matthew
- Ph.D., Columbia University
- Published Here
- October 7, 2019