Empires of Gender

Constructions of Gender in the Age of Imperialism

Detailed Table of Contents

Ralph Crane and Radhika Mohanram: Gender/ Mutiny in Edwardian Fiction: Charles Pearce’s Fiction of 1857
Abstract: This article examines how political events in the far-flung spaces of the British Empire affected gender relations in Britain in the Edwardian period. It offers a reading of an alternate corpus of works which tracks masculine anxieties over changing gender relations that led to suffrage for women and shows the closely knit relationship between gender and race in early twentieth century in Britain.
Author's Bio: Ralph Crane is Professor of English at the University of Tasmania, Australia, and Radhika Mohanram is Professor in English and at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University, UK. Crane and Mohanram’s forthcoming work, Imperialism as Diaspora: Race, Sexuality and History in Anglo-India (in press, Postcolonialism Across the Disciplines series, Liverpool University Press, 2013) examines the seamless continuum between cultural history, art, and Anglo-Indian literary works. Specifically, they focus on the influence of the Sepoy Mutiny on Anglo-Indian identity; the trope of duty and the white man’s burden on the racialization of Anglo-India; the role of the missionary and the status of Christianity in India; and gender, love and contamination within mixed marriages.
Laura-Marie von Czarnowsky: Home and Away: Notions of In-betweenness in Tanika Gupta’s The Waiting Room.
Abstract: When faced with feisty Priya, heroine of Tanika Gupta's The Waiting Room, one cannot help but feel that ghosts on the stage have come a long way since Hamlet's gloomy father. Gupta's unlikely ghostly heroine dominates the play and all the characters in it, breaking a great many traditions as the plot develops. This article argues that Gupta's play presents a mode of cultural in-betweenness, offering alternatives to dichotomous pairs such as biography/fiction, East/West, life/death and tradition/modernity. In-betweenness as used and presented by Gupta serves as a means to criticise and reduce the ethnically limited reception and perception of British-Asian women's writers today.
Author's Bio: Laura-Marie von Czarnowsky holds an M.A. in English Studies, German Studies and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Cologne, where she is currently employed as an instructor by the English Department. She is working on a Ph.D., analysing the works of Neil Gaiman from a gender studies perspective. Her research interests include contemporary British drama, magical realism, representations of monstrosity in literature, and detective fiction.
Parminder Bakshi-Hamm: Masculinity under Imperial Stress: Mr Biswas and V S Naipaul
Abstract: In Mr Biswas, Naipaul creates his most destitute of protagonists. Born into a community of Indian labourers on a sugar estate, in a remote village of Trinidad, Mr Biswas grows to face a life without prospects. Cut off as much from the distant homeland of his ancestors in India, as from the African society around them, the circumstances of Mr Biswas and his people are a direct outcome of colonisation, and Indians in Trinidad are among the twice colonised. Claiming to be of Brahamincal origin yet uneducated, caught in poverty and demeaning labour, East Indians living in West Indies, the cicumstances Mr Biswas finds himself in are dire. His efforts to break out of this world to which he is politically and socially confined eventually crystallise into the one desire - to have a house of his own. The ownership of a house for Biswas is fundamental to establishing his identity as a man within the colonial context. This paper examines the impact of colonisation in the construction of masculinity in Mr Biswas, and insofar there are biographical parallels, and in Naipaul himself.
Author's Bio: Parminder Bakshi-Hamm has taught courses in English Literature and Cultural Studies in India, UK and Germany. One of her areas of research are race and gender issues in language and literature.