Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth and to Arnold

By Mary Jean Corbett | Go to book overview
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ALLEGORIES OF UNION
IN IRISH AND
ENGLISH WRITING,
1790–1870

In this book, Mary Jean Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's relationship with England throughout the nineteenth century. Through postcolonial and feminist theory, she considers how cross-cultural contact is negotiated using tropes of marriage and family, and demonstrates how familial rhetoric sometimes works to sustain, sometimes to contest, the structures of colonial inequality. Analyzing novels by Edgeworth, Owenson, Gaskell, Kingsley, and Trollope as well as writings by Burke, Carlyle, Engels, Arnold, and Mill, Corbett argues that the colonizing imperative for “reforming” the Irish in an age of imperial expansion constitutes a largely unrecognized but crucial element in the rhetorical project of English nation-formation. By situating her readings within the varying historical and ideological contexts that shape them, she revises the critical orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that currently prevail in Irish and English studies, and offers a fresh perspective on important aspects of Victorian culture.

MARY JEAN CORBETT is Associate Professor of English and Affiliate of Women's Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her publications include Representing Femininity: Middle-Class Subjectivity in Victorian and Edwardian Women's Autobiographies (1992). Her work has also appeared in Criticism, Eighteenth-Century Life, ELH, Studies in the Novel, and Women's Studies.

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