Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis employs a postcolonial perspective to explore the construction of white English male identity in four supernatural novels by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, H. Rider Haggard, and Bram Stoker: A Strange Story (1862); She (1887); Dracula (1897); and Lair of the White Worm (1911). The examination of this privileged subject position in late Victorian and Edwardian culture enables a new understanding of the techniques of imperialism. The thesis focusses in particular on two of imperialism's most pervasive supporting discourses: empiricism and science. In this critical context, the expression of imperial anxieties in the supernatural fiction of these eras might be understood as strategies of retrenchment and the call to vigilance for empire's privileged subjects. The sub-genre in which these four novels participate, which Patrick Brantlinger has called "imperiai Gothic," both expresses and attempts to supress the fear of foreign forces, manifesting in the texts as foreign monsters, which not only attack the protagonists, but threaten to subvert the foundations of their scientific and philosophical systems. The shift in the construction of science as an individual pursuit to its deployment as a means to guarantee the purity of the British "race" is revealed as a partial response to increasing concern over imperial security.
Smith, Melissa, "Monsters at Home and Abroad: The Crisis of White Male Identity in Four British Novels of lmperial Terror" (1999). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5988.
McMaster University Library