Imperial masculinities of the modern romance : how intellectuals used imperial rhetoric to reassert middle-class masculinity in late 19th-century Britain
Metadata[+] Show full item record
In this thesis, I argue that authors of the modern romance in late Victorian Britain used imperialism and imperial rhetoric to reassert constructions of British, middle-class masculinity. I do so by examining the life and works of three authors, each with a different relationship and proximity to the British Empire: H. Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells, and Bram Stoker. In doing so, I show that this use of imperialism was not limited to ardent imperialists, such as Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad, but that it could be used by a broader spectrum of middle-class men, including anti-imperialists, like Wells, and imperial collaborators, like Stoker. Each of these authors, despite their vastly different political and social views, wrote stories in which a white, middle-class man was thrust into some unknown territory or wilderness in which he had to engage in conquest of a physical and sexual nature. Through an analysis of each man's non-fiction and fiction works, I demonstrate that these imperial power relations were deeply enmeshed within the very fabric of Victorian life on the domestic front and reveal how they shaped gender, race, and class in this period. Finally, I reveal how such constructions of imperial masculinity persist in the 21st century in both Britain and the United States.