Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

English

Major Professor

Misty G. Anderson

Committee Members

Heather Hirschfeld, Katy Chiles

Abstract

Exploring Memory’s Terra Incognitas explores two narrative concerns in Frances Burney’s The Wanderer: Juliet’s opacity as a heroine and her troubling entrance in the novel disguised in blackface, only to be later revealed as white and British. This project argues that both Juliet’s lack of interiority and racial instability represent Burney’s sensitivity to changing notions of the self at the end of the 18th century. Drawing on Dror Wahrman and Joseph Roach’s recent work on historical notions of the self, theater, performance, I suggest that Burney’s maligned last novel represents a generic achievement in the history of the novel, but also displays a profound awareness of the challenges of representing and remembering minority, especially black, narratives of the self in history. Individual chapters investigate The Wanderer’s response to the challenge of testifying to the slave revolt in Haiti, to the “bleaching” of Imoinda on stage in Thomas Southerne’s adaption of Aphra Behn’s novella, and to the quotidian meaning of the Mansfield Decision in a culture saturated by an already complex consumer and colonial past.

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