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Title: Why can't she stay home? : expatriation and back-migration in the work of Katherine Mansfield, Robin Hyde, Janet Frame and Fleur Adcock.
Author: Neale, Emma Jane.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3440 4212
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1999
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My thesis examines changing conceptions of colonial, artistic and female identity. I build on the work of previous critics (including Ash, Parkin-Gounelas, Pride, Sandbrook, Wevers), but I seek to place renewed emphasis on literary-historical context and questions of aesthetic value. My introductory chapter grounds the twentieth-century works in literary analyses of a sample of published nineteenth-century accounts by British women of their emigration to New Zealand. These women align expatriation with bereavement, yet advocate the colony's new egalitarianism. The chapter ends with a reading of Victorian fiction by 'Alien' (Louisa Baker: once popular, but now seldom read), for whom expatriation was already a complex matter. For 'Alien', the New Zealander's return to England connotes artistic selfbetterment and women's entry into valuable work: themes crucial to Mansfield, in whose early prose expatriation represents similar liberation. However, connections between travel and social freedom become increasingly questionable; Mansfield's stories illustrate the restrictiveness of European sexual moeurs, establishing disturbing correspondences between expatriation, the lost past, the undermining of identity, and death. Hyde takes up Mansfield's preoccupations, in works which richly dramatise the scope and limits of expatriation for a colonial woman artist. The inclusion of backmigration in her narratives reconciles expatriation with rising literary nationalism. Adcock's initial poetry repeats Mansfield's adolescent depiction of New Zealand as stifling. Although her stance on the relationship between self and homeland grows more conflicted throughout her career, she rejects Hyde's idea of redemptive backmigration. Return merely leads to reiteration of insoluble debates over identity. Janet Frame's novels parody - and repudiate - previous perspectives on expatriation. Her autobiography partially returns to modernist structures (expatriation as arrival at self-possession), yet her total oeuvre finds its only possibility of home in interiority. . I conclude with a brief examination of fiction by Kirsty Gunn and Emily Perkins, both of whom use expatriation to signify moral uncertainty. My study aims to deepen a sense of the intertextual relationships between the selected authors. I hope that my account opens new ways of interpreting the links between history and gender in narratives of leaving home.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature