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Lewis, Reina
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
This thesis examines the paintings of Henriette Browne and George Eliot's novel Daniel Deronda in order to explore the ways in which European women contributed to imperial cultures of the second half of the nineteenth century. In contrast to many cultural histories of imperialism which analyse Orientalist images of women rather than images by women, the thesis argues, first, that women did produce imperialist images and, second, that an analysis of the production and reception of images by women will develop an understanding of the interdependence of ideologies of race and gender in the colonial discourse of the period. To this end, the representations selected for study are read largely through their reception in the British and French critical press in order to assess the ways in which the gender-specific and author-centred criticism of the time produced a range of (often contradictory) meanings for women's texts and identities for their authors. It is argued that women's differential, gendered access to the positionalities of imperial discourse produced a gaze on the orient and the Orientalized 'Other' that registered difference less pejoratively and less absolutely than is\ud implied by Said's original formulation (Said, 1978). Thus, the thesis contributes to critical debates about imperial subjectivities; argues for a more complex understanding of women's role in imperial culture and discourse; intervenes in George Eliot scholarship; and provides the first detailed analysis of Browne's work. As an initial exploration of women's involvement in Orientalist art, the thesis also aims to indicate the existence of a larger, as yet unexplored, field of women's visual Orientalism and demonstrate the benefits of taking an interdisciplinary approach to the examination of women's interaction with and contribution to colonial and imperial cultures.
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