Even though Edward Said’s Orientalism inspired several generations of scholars to study the English novel’s close involvement with colonialism, they have not considered how English novels themselves were radically altered by colonialism. In Educating Seeta, Shuchi Kapila argues that the paradoxes of indirect rule in British India were negotiated in “family romances” which encoded political struggle in the language of domestic and familial civility. A mixture of domestic ideology and liberal politics, these are Anglo-Indian romances, written by British colonials who lived in India during a period of indirect colonial rule. Instead of providing neat conclusions and smooth narratives, they become a record of the limits of liberal colonialism. They thus offer an important supplement to Victorian novels, extend the study of nineteenth-century domestic ideology, and offer a new perspective on colonial culture. Kapila demonstrates that popular writing about India and, by implication, other colonies is an important supplement to the high Victorian novel and indispensable to our understanding of nineteenth-century English literature and culture. Her nuanced study of British writing about indirect rule in India will reshape our understanding of Victorian domestic ideologies, class formation, and gender politics.
In Reading the East India Company, Betty Joseph offers an innovative account of how archives—and the practice of archiving—shaped colonial ideologies in Britain and British-controlled India during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Drawing on the British East India Company's records as well as novels, memoirs, portraiture and guidebooks, Joseph shows how the company's economic and archival practices intersected to produce colonial "fictions" or "truth-effects" that strictly governed class and gender roles—in effect creating a "grammar of power" that kept the far-flung empire intact. And while women were often excluded from this archive, Joseph finds that we can still hear their voices at certain key historical junctures. Attending to these voices, Joseph illustrates how the writing of history belongs not only to the colonial project set forth by British men, but also to the agendas and mechanisms of agency—of colonized Indian, as well as European women. In the process, she makes a valuable and lasting contribution to gender studies, postcolonial theory, and the history of South Asia.
The Rhetoric of English India
Sara Suleri Goodyear University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress PR9484.3.S85 1992 | Dewey Decimal 820.93254
Tracing a genealogy of colonial discourse, Suleri focuses on paradigmatic moments in the multiple stories generated by the British colonization of the Indian subcontinent. Both the literature of imperialism and its postcolonial aftermath emerge here as a series of guilty transactions between two cultures that are equally evasive and uncertain of their own authority.
"A dense, witty, and richly allusive book . . . an extremely valuable contribution to postcolonial cultural studies as well as to the whole area of literary criticism."—Jean Sudrann, Choice
Spanning nearly two and a half centuries of English literature about India, Under Western Eyes traces the development of an imperial discourse that governed the English view of India well into the twentieth century. Narrating this history from its Reformation beginnings to its Victorian consolidation, Balachandra Rajan tracks this imperial presence through a wide range of literary and ideological sites. In so doing, he explores from a postcolonial vantage point collusions of gender, commerce, and empire—while revealing the tensions, self-deceptions, and conflicts at work within the English imperial design. Rajan begins with the Portuguese poet Camões, whose poem celebrating Vasco da Gama’s passage to India becomes, according to its eighteenth-century English translator, the epic of those who would possess India. He closely examines Milton’s treatment of the Orient and Dryden’s Aureng-Zebe, the first English literary work on an Indian subject. Texts by Shelley, Southey, Mill, and Macaulay, among others, come under careful scrutiny, as does Hegel’s significant impact on English imperial discourse. Comparing the initial English representation of its actions in India (as a matter of commerce, not conquest) and its contemporaneous treatment of Ireland, Rajan exposes contradictions that shed new light on the English construction of a subaltern India.