The New Woman and the Empire examines the intersections of gender, race, and colonial issues in the work of four culturally, socially, and nationally disparate New Women: Sarah Grand, George Egerton, Elizabeth Robins, and Amy Levy. Iveta Jusová underscores essential differences in these women’s negotiations of the Victorian colonial narrative and ascertains how these authors located the fin-de-siècle New Woman project in relation to the late-Victorian colonial contest and the racially biased narratives of evolution.
Seeking to contribute to our understanding of the discursive strategies available to late-Victorian women’s efforts to create space for their feminist agenda in public discourse, the book urges the reader to confront the fact that the success of these strategies was often predicated on marginalizing others. It underscores the various ways in which the work of all of the examined authors supported British imperialist efforts. Viewing much of Grand’s and Robins’s works’ embracement of the official colonial narrative as a strategically motivated move, The New Woman and the Empire focuses on the limitations such a narrative choice placed on these authors’ feminisms. But the book also highlights various discursive strategies that Egerton and Levy, and to a lesser extent Robins and Grand, forged to express a more resistant position towards both colonial narrative and evolutionary discourse.
Reviews of this book have appeared in Nineteenth-Century Literature 61:2, The Journal of the Midwest MLA 36:1, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies 2:1, The Journal of Women’s History 21:1, ELT 49:3 and Literature Compass 4:4.