Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jonathan D. Greenberg

Committee Member

Patricia A. Matthew

Committee Member

James Nash


In the introduction to Modernism and Colonialism: British and Irish Literature, 1899-1939, Richard Begam and Michael Moses state that the “historical and cultural reality of modernism more often then not challenged the prevailing values of English culture, including its most powerful institution, the British Empire” (6). The problem of connection can be considered one of these troubled established ideologies. The English not only promoted relations between those of the same socioeconomic status and cultural upbringing, but actively discouraged connections of any other kind. This value system barred the English from any kind of social or political mobility because connections were continuously made within familiar circles and those that were different were considered off limits. An even larger result of this mentality was the indeterminacy of what it meant to be “English,” as this system denied the shared characteristics of people born and raised within the same country.

Through readings of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and George Orwell’s essay “England Your England,” this thesis explores how the Empire functioned without an emphasis on forming and sustaining relationships within and beyond the boundaries of England, and to also show how these works are in many ways a critique of the imperial system. The larger thematic implications of this thesis seek to examine the various ways these authors defied traditional notions of Englishness and Empire, and to re-negotiate a place for these texts in the Modernist canon as part of a tradition specifically writing on the subjects of colonial critique, and political and ideological renovation.

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