Race and the Victorians
In Taming Cannibals, Patrick Brantlinger unravels contradictions embedded in the racist and imperialist ideology of the British Empire. For many Victorians, the idea of taming cannibals or civilizing savages was oxymoronic: civilization was a goal that the nonwhite peoples of the world could not attain or, at best, could only approximate, yet the "civilizing mission" was viewed as the ultimate justification for imperialism. Similarly, the supposedly unshakeable certainty of Anglo-Saxon racial superiority was routinely undercut by widespread fears about racial degeneration through contact with "lesser" races or concerns that Anglo-Saxons might be superseded by something superior—an even "fitter" or "higher" race or species.
Brantlinger traces the development of those fears through close readings of a wide range of texts—including Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Fiji and the Fijians by Thomas Williams, Daily Life and Origin of the Tasmanians by James Bonwick, The Descent of Man by Charles Darwin, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold, She by H. Rider Haggard, and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Throughout the wide-ranging, capacious, and rich Taming Cannibals, Brantlinger combines the study of literature with sociopolitical history and postcolonial theory in novel ways.
Patrick Brantlinger is James Rudy Professor of English (Emeritus) at Indiana University. He is the author of many books, including Dark Vanishings, Fictions of State, Rule of Darkness, and Bread and Circuses, all from Cornell.
Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800–1930
Brantlinger here examines the commonly held 19th-century view that all "primitive" races around the world were doomed sooner or later to extinction.
Fictions of State
Culture and Credit in Britain, 1694–1994
Rule of Darkness
British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914
A major contribution to the cultural and literary history of the Victorian age, this book maps the complex relationship between Victorian literary forms, genres, and theories and imperialist, racist ideology.
Bread and Circuses
Theories of Mass Culture As Social Decay
Brantlinger shows how the belief in the historical inevitability of social decay—a belief today perpetuated by the mass media themselves—has become the dominant view of mass culture in our time.