My dissertation interrogates the legacy of colonialism across cultures through the framework of family secrets. Domestic Disturbances: Family, Home, and History in Global Anglophone Women’s Writing argues that settler colonialism has produced literary forms which are uniquely invested in the issues of inheritance. Ireland, the American South, and the Caribbean share a problematic relationship with the past, one where cultural memory is continually contested and reimagined. Domestic Disturbances analyzes the ways that women writers navigate the violent history of the colonial past through the family home. My focus on the Irish Big House and the Southern and Caribbean plantation locates colonial complicity within the family unit. I read novels by Elizabeth Bowen, Eudora Welty, Jean Rhys, and Tana French to trace how domestic spaces collude with the narrative to conceal and reveal family secrets. Breaking with past scholarship relegating these writers to regional and national traditions, I read these authors as products of a transnational settler colonial canon. Ultimately, I conclude that home and family are crucial contexts for understanding, unpacking, and undermining colonial complicity.
Cover image by Valérie Anex from Ghost Estates