Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern

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Lexington Books, 2003 - 231 pages
Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern explores the problematic formation of national culture within modern English society. In this ambitious work of post-colonial and cultural theory, C. J. Wan-ling Wee investigates the complex interaction between a modern, industrialized, metropolitan, and progressively rational English national culture and a nationalistic imperial discourse interested in territorial expansion and the valorization of an idealized agrarian past. Starting with the Victorian era, the work documents the complex relationship of concepts such as 'home' and 'frontier' and 'EnglishO and 'colonial' through an analysis of key literary-cultural figures in their historical contexts: Rudyard Kipling, Charles Kingsley, T.S. Eliot, and V.S. Naipaul. Wee brings the discussion of modernity into the present with a consideration of post-imperial Singapore-a neo-traditionalist modern society that reworks many of the colonial tropes and contradictions-to investigate the ambiguities and contradictions revealed in the West's engagement with modernity.
 

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Contents

Culture Empire Modernity
1
Primitive Vigor Empire and a Pure National Culture
37
The Recovery of the English Frontier in England
77
From National Imperialism to Imperial Nationalism
115
The Native Arrives
153
An East Asian Modernity and the Ironies of Postcolonial Culture
197
Selected Bibliography
221
Index
227
About the Author
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

C. J. W.-L. Wee teaches literature and cultural theory at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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