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The New Woman and the Empire

Iveta Jusová

“This book considers ‘colonial’ issues in broad, unhackneyed ways, looking afresh at everything from Sarah Grand’s use of Malta as a background for her fiction, to George Egerton’s handling of Ireland as a colonial property of England, to Amy Levy’s attitudes toward a Zionist homeland for English Jews. Jusová continually places the question of colonialism in relation to broader ideological matters involving late-nineteenth century notions drawn from biology, philosophy, and other disciplines.” —Margaret D. Stetz, University of Delaware

“A highly interesting study of four fin-de-siècle New Woman writers containing excellent close readings of mostly prominent but also lesser-known texts by the authors. Jusová’s explorations beyond the usual colonial subjects to those less often examined adds an important new angle to New Woman studies.” —Ann Heilmann, University of Wales, Swanse

The New Woman and the Empire examines the intersections of gender, race, and colonial issues in the work of four culturally, socially, and nationally disparate New Women: Sarah Grand, George Egerton, Elizabeth Robins, and Amy Levy. Iveta Jusová underscores essential differences in these women’s negotiations of the Victorian colonial narrative and ascertains how these authors located the fin-de-siècle New Woman project in relation to the late-Victorian colonial contest and the racially biased narratives of evolution.

Seeking to contribute to our understanding of the discursive strategies available to late-Victorian women’s efforts to create space for their feminist agenda in public discourse, the book urges the reader to confront the fact that the success of these strategies was often predicated on marginalizing others. It underscores the various ways in which the work of all of the examined authors supported British imperialist efforts. Viewing much of Grand’s and Robins’s works’ embracement of the official colonial narrative as a strategically motivated move, The New Woman and the Empire focuses on the limitations such a narrative choice placed on these authors’ feminisms. But the book also highlights various discursive strategies that Egerton and Levy, and to a lesser extent Robins and Grand, forged to express a more resistant position towards both colonial narrative and evolutionary discourse.

Iveta Jusová is director of the Women’s Studies in Europe Program and assistant professor of women’s studies at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Aug 2005
Literary Criticism/Feminist; Social Science/Feminism & Feminist Theory; Literary Criticism/European/English
264 pp. 6x9 4 illus.

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