Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Committee Member

David Coombs, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Erin M Goss

Committee Member

Andy Lemons

Abstract

Charlotte and Branwell Brontë’s collaborative writing project, the Glass Town saga, is rarely the subject of academic examination that does not analyze it as either a derivative of the works of Sir Walter Scott or a precursor to Jane Eyre and The Professor. This paper instead considers Glass Town as a work of early fantasy, a reading which allows for an examination of colonialism’s relationship to the genre in its infant stages. Connecting Glass Town to nineteenth-century European theories of African history and development, and to articles of African exploration and conquest, I contextualize the colonialist messages contained in the Brontës’ early writings. Establishing Glass Town as a created fantasy world, I show how the Faerie elements of the Brontës’ stories support their fictional, British heroes’ occupation and domination of West Africa. This work calls for a new consideration of the Glass Town saga, not as juvenilia, nor in terms of its relationship to Scott and the later works of Charlotte Brontë, but as a precursor to early-twentieth-century fantasy epics. Such an analysis allows for further examination of fantasy’s relationship to nineteenth-century British colonial expansion.

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