The Imperial Geography of Ulysses: Toward an Empathic Anti-Colonialism

Kerr, Ryan, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Luftig, Victor, Department of English, University of Virginia

James Joyce’s Ulysses depicts an environment wherein the British imperial presence dominates the interpersonal relationships among the Irish. As a result of colonial discourses and nationalist ideologies, racial divisions are strengthened and the colonized masses are turned against one another. The characters in Joyce’s Dublin, from the bourgeois Leopold Bloom to the violent Irish nationalists, have internalized the same ideologies of colonial oppression that the British use to exploit them. In this analysis, I aim to understand the affective states that result from the ideologies of the colonized as Joyce portrays them. The colonial environment gives rise to affects of fear and antagonism, displaying problematic relational models that separate the colonized, even though their attempts at empathy and nationalist colonial rebellion are ostensibly implemented to unify the Irish. Using theoretical frameworks found in Marxist theory and affect theory, I will explore the ways in which Ulysses depicts the importance of empathy in combatting the dominant colonial ideology, as well as the ways in which the novel illustrates the harmful effects of an absence of empathy among the colonized.

MA (Master of Arts)
Ulysses, colonialism, James Joyce, Marxist theory, Marxism, imperialism, nationalism, affect theory
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