McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
architecture, country house, gender, globalization, great house, postcolonial
This project explores the use of the symbol of the Western European Great House by contemporary postcolonial novelists and consists of four chapters, each focusing on the ways that the power structures connected to the Great House impact the lives of the characters in four different postcolonial locations: Ireland, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and India. The use of the Western European Great House in Edna O'Brien's House of Splendid Isolation (1994), André Brink's Imaginings of Sand (1996), Rosario Ferré's The House on the Lagoon (1995), and Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh (1995) reveals the continuing impact of colonial power structures in the wake of formal colonialism. The form and function of the houses in the novels provide insight into two key questions facing the postcolonial world: To what extent and in what forms are the power dynamics erected by Western European colonizers still operating? And, what can and should be done with the lingering power structures that divide and oppress by means of gender, race, and class? The Great House enables these writers to investigate and problematize the power structures it represents. The architectural settings reveal not only that the colonial power structures were never airtight and impervious but also that they still exist, even if in ruins, and must be dealt with. Bringing together novels set in diverse places exposes the continuing potency of the power structures erected through the colonial process while concurrently highlighting the differences in the ways the power structures operate in each specific postcolonial location. This project underscores the significance of architecture to postcolonial literary studies by highlighting the important relationship between the built environment and society.
Kloo, J. (2009). The Architecture of the Great House in the Contemporary Postcolonial Novel (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/758