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    Encountering the unhomely in the post-imperial British novel

    Gholami, Soudabeh (2020) Encountering the unhomely in the post-imperial British novel. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis aims to develop and expand different ways of understanding home and belonging by focusing on the post-imperial British novel and its evocation of unhomeliness and estrangement. I look at sites of divisions and uneasy co-existence in various spaces–cultural, political, historical–to analyse what this unhomeliness reveals to us. Drawing on Freud’s unheimlich, translated as unhomely and uncanny, this study captures an England, which caught between its imperial past and post-imperial present, articulates ambivalence and enforces strangeness and unhomeliness upon those who struggle to belong. The three novels that take centre-stage in this thesis–Julian Barnes’s Arthur & George, Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood, Marina Warner’s Indigo–delve deeper in British history, probing issues of race, slavery, gender and different modes of existence. They demonstrate that Britain’s post-imperial identity partially accommodates different identities within its nation space. I argue that Barnes, Phillips and Warner show how we can diversify our understanding of home by acknowledging the plurality of identity and unrootedness; diaspora, displacement and other forms of ‘not-at-homeness’ play an integral role in the nation’s post-imperial identity, and thus, by focusing on conflicts, national division and uneasy ‘co-habitation’ of different cultures, paradoxically we better understand what can connect and unify. Taking the reader on a journey through different variants of the postcolonial unhomely, this thesis finally argues that, when read together, these novels gesture at moving beyond a postcolonial framework since the complexity of British society today cannot be reduced to its colonial past.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2021 13:17
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:52


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