Domestic Disturbances: Home and History in Transatlantic Women’s Writing translation missing: zh.hyrax.visibility.files_restricted.text

Harsh, Sarah (Summer 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/np193b20f?locale=zh
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Abstract

This dissertation explores how women novelists shape our understanding of the colonial past. Breaking with previous scholarship relegating women writers to a regional or national literary tradition, I chart points of connection and intersection across the Atlantic. Ireland, the American South, and the Caribbean share a history of settler colonialism. Twentieth-century women writers from these regions must contend with this legacy in their lives and literatures. Elizabeth Bowen, Eudora Welty, Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Jean Rhys, and Tana French excavate the colonial past within the walls of the home. Settler colonialism has produced distinct domestic spaces and corresponding literary genres. My focus on the Irish Big House and the southern and Caribbean plantation home locates colonial complicity within the family unit. Analyzing the domestic sphere reveals how women are implicated in upholding colonial power structures.

Although they approach the plantation from different times and places, Bowen, Welty, Allfrey, Rhys, and French share a set of questions and preoccupations about the past. These writers ask how the larger forces of history manifest in domestic spaces. The traces of colonialism, plantation, and slavery infiltrate the home in submerged and surprising ways. In A World of Love, Delta Wedding, The Optimist’s Daughter, The Orchid House, Wide Sargasso Sea, and The Likeness, the home is more than just a setting. It is a portal to the past. My project in this dissertation is to uncover the places where home and history meet.

Table of Contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………..1

Where Home and History Meet

Chapter One……………………………………………………………………………………...21

“A Secret History”: Elizabeth Bowen, Espionage, and the Big House

Chapter Two……………………………………………………………………………………...61

Domestic Destruction in Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding and The Optimist’s Daughter

Chapter Three…………………………………………………………………………….……..105

Paradox and Plantation in Dominican White Creole Women’s Writing

Chapter Four…………………………………………………………………………….……...142

A Change(ling) Ireland: The Celtic Tiger Big House

Coda…………………………………………………………………………….………………186

The Unsettled Past

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………189

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