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Title: Imagining the East Indies in early modern English literature, 1590-1660 : faith, trade, power and the metropole
Author: Soon, Emily Jing Yuen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 0797
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores English literary engagement with the East Indies in the decades surrounding the foundation of the East India Company in 1600. It is well-established that the political and economic exchange between East and West facilitated England's development; this thesis contends that there was a critical, yet critically-neglected literary dimension to this Anglo-Asian relationship too. To date, there exists no study on how English writers, working across a variety of genres, engaged with South and Southeast Asia in this formative period. This thesis bridges this gap, contending that long before England acquired colonies in the East, England was already developing a metropolitan relationship with South and Southeast Asia, as writers shaped their imaginative visions of the East Indies in order to intervene in issues that mattered to England internally and internationally. By illustrating how a range of individuals were creatively invested in Asia, I complicate scholarly assumptions about the gender and class divisions that are believed to typify early modern cross-cultural encounters; by illuminating how authors did not view their Eastern tales as being exclusively about the East, I demonstrate the need to recalibrate the interpretive approaches to early modern Asian fictions that have gained currency following the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism (1978). Each of the four chapters concentrates on a specific discursive phenomenon: Chapter One interrogates how late-Elizabethan writers archaised Asia, Chapter Two explores how Jacobean authors re-mapped the spiritual geography of Islamic Indonesia, Chapter Three interrogates how Henrietta Maria's court masques drew inspiration from India's Hindu culture and international commerce and Chapter Four traces how authors in the English Commonwealth perceived the prospect of an Eastern commercial empire. Taken together, these explorations of how Asia enabled English writers to negotiate issues regarding faith, trade and power extend our understanding of the pre-history of Orientalism and the 'Global Renaissance'.
Supervisor: McMullan, Gordon Alexander ; Massai, Sonia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available