Configurations of imperialism and their displacements in the novels of Joseph Conrad
This thesis examines certain configurations of imperialism and their displacements in the novels of Joseph Conrad beginning from the premise that imperialism is rationalised through a dualistic model of self/"other" and functions as a hierarchy of domination/subordination. In chapters one and two it argues that both Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim configure this model of imperialism as a split between Europe/not-Europe. The third and fourth chapters consider displacements of this model: onto a split within Europe and an act of "internal" imperialism in Under Western Eyes and onto unequal gender relations in the public and private spheres in Chance. Each chapter provides a reading of the selected novel in relation to one or more contemporary (or near contemporary) primary source and analyses these texts using various strands of cultural theory. Chapter one, on Heart of Darkness, investigates the historical background to British imperialism by focusing on the textual production of history in a variety of written forms which comprise the diary, travel writing, government report, fiction. It considers how versions of (imperial) history/knowledge are constructed through the writing up of experience. In chapter two, on Lord Jim, the hero figure is analysed as a product of the imperial ideology and the protagonist's failure is explored through the application of evolutionary theory. Chapters three and four, on Under Western Eyes and Chance, investigate displacements of the imperial model: the failure of an "enlightened" Western Europe to challenge Russian imperialism in Poland forms the basis for reading Under Western Eyes with Rousseau's writings and a nineteenth-century history of the French Revolution. Chance presents a further displacement of this model in its relocation of imperialist imperatives in the sexual/gender inequalities practised in the "mother" country.