Penetrating Critiques: Emasculated Empire and Victorian Identity in Africa
Tracing the intersections between archival documents and immensely popular adventure fiction set in Africa, Penetrating Critiques highlights the anxieties surrounding the vulnerability of the white male body by assessing the destabilization of narrative itself. The author considers texts ranging from private letters, governmental correspondence, periodicals, and archival documents to the popular works of H. Rider Haggard, Richard Marsh, and Joseph Conrad. These texts trouble the notions of bounded male bodies, impermeable histories, and solid virtues while underscoring the grotesqueness of male forms, narratives, and moralities.
Although dominant representations of martial bodies frequently emphasized boundaries, containment, and solidity, the fiction and imperial archives explored in this book expose problems of stability through tropes, images, and material evidence of perforation, penetration, and dissolution. In emphasizing the relationship between institutional imperial writing and popular discourse, Penetrating Critiques reveals that more complex, fraught, and critical approaches to imperialism and masculinity were circulating throughout Victorian culture than previously recognized.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 320 pages
- Illustrations: 12
- Dimensions: 6.2in x 1.4in x 9.2in
"Penetrating Critiques examines a series of crises that revealed in their own time the inefficacy of dominant notions of Victorian manhood. Bringing together impressive archival material, canonical texts, and popular literature, this book makes an important contribution to our understanding of fin-de-siècle British masculinity and the role of African exploration, military conflict, and the periodical press in reshaping British conceptions of manhood."
Andrea Kaston Tange, Department of English, Macalester College
"Penetrating Critiques brings together fin-de-siècle popular fiction and extensive archival research to chart a crisis in British imperial masculinity. Rich case studies of imperial anxiety in South Africa, Egypt and the Sudan, and West Africa foreground the historical contexts of prominent literary texts. The book makes a welcome contribution to critical debates on nineteenth-century masculinity, the imperial project, and the politics of popular fiction."
Minna Vuohelainen, Department of English, City, University of London
"In this consistently enlightening and persuasive study, Leslie Allin pursues the ramifications of a late-Victorian crisis in imperial masculinity as it appears across a wide range of genres and authors. Penetrating Critiques will be a boon to scholars working on fin-de-siècle popular fiction; on constructions of masculinity; on European perceptions of Africa and its peoples; and on the ever-volatile conceptions of the ‘imperial mission.’"
Stephen Arata, Department of English, University of Virginia
Author InformationLeslie Allin is an independent scholar with affiliations with the University of Guelph.
Table of contents
Part I: Ruptures in Adventure Romance
1. Permeable Boundaries: Violence and Fantasy in Zululand
2. H. Rider Haggard’s Inversions: Vulnerability and the Narrative Volatility of Imperial Romance
Part II: Gothic Penetrations
3. Transgression and Loss: General Gordon and Gothic Imagination
4. Marsh’s Perforations: Desire, Imperial Decay, and the Narrative Instability of The Beetle
Part III: Modernist Dissolutions
5. Bodily Disintegrations: Forensic Exposure and the Human Leopard Society in Sierra Leone
6. Getting to the Hearts of Darkness
Subjects and Courses