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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Daughters of the Plantocracy: Jean Rhys, Elizabeth Bowen, and Postplantation Modernism
by Heller, Chadd David, M.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2020, 89; 27962583
Abstract (Summary)

This project examines the role of plantations in modernist fiction. The plantation as a global space and site of exchange represents the need to reconceptualize definitions of modernity by problematizing peripheral spaces rather than viewing them as archaic colonial forms. Rather than cast away plantations and plantation fiction to the backwaters and outposts of empire, I argue that plantations served to structure modernity and destabilize center/periphery binaries, where the plantation masquerades as a peripheral space while remaining central to empire and the imperial metropole. I emphasize the need to place colony and metropole in a single analytic field and examine the nuanced dialectic relationship between the two. Broadly speaking, this project examines modernist form in light of its colonial context and postcolonial aftermath and reads modernism as entangled with expanding empires and colonial consciousness. The fiction of Elizabeth Bowen and Jean Rhys offer an entryway into considering not only colonialism’s relationship with modernism, but also the plantation’s role in modernist literature. Novels like The Last September and Wide Sargasso Sea intimately explore the space of the plantation in Ireland and the Caribbean respectively and dramatize their material legacy in the history of colonialism. In looking at its supposed peripheries, I seek to complicate traditional narratives of modernism and aim to consider how modernism operates at the margins of empire and between its peripheries—a black and green Atlantic. By looking at the work of Rhys and Bowen from the perspective of plantation modernism, we can further understand how the spatial dynamics of colonialism contributed to the form of modernist fiction and the ways in which the plantation was always-already a modern space.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Winkiel, Laura
Commitee: Ho, Janice, Mallipeddi, Ramesh
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 81/12(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: British and Irish literature, Modern literature, Caribbean literature
Keywords: Caribbean, Colonialism, Ireland, Modernism, Periphery, Plantations
Publication Number: 27962583
ISBN: 9781083590190
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