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Twentieth Century Polish History Seminar
April 20, 2022 @ 6:15 pm - 7:00 pm
Joseph Conrad, Colonialism and Africa.
Profesor Robert Hampson (University of London, Institute of English Studies).
In this talk, Professor Hampson will consider Conrad’s engagement with colonialism in his African fiction. Although Conrad is associated in the popular mind with Africa, his early fiction drew on his experiences in the Malay Archipelago, and the Malay archipelago plays a much bigger part in his fiction than Africa.
Early reviewers described him as ‘annexing’ the archipelago for English literature, but, as Hampson will show, his depiction of Dutch and Spanish colonialism (and British interventions as well) is more sympathetic to the indigenous peoples than this would suggest. This provides the context for Conrad’s fictional engagement with Africa on which the talk will focus. Kiedy ” Heart of Darkness” was published, contemporary reviewers recognised its critique of King Leopold of Belgium’s takeover of the Congo. Hampson will discuss Leopold’s role in the Congo, but will also show how ‘Heart of Darkness’ (and Conrad’s other African story, ‘An Outpost of Progress’) extend their critique from the particular case of the Congo to the rhetoric of the ‘civilising mission’ that also underwrote other colonialisms.
Robert Hampson is a Research Fellow at the Institute for English Studies and Professor Emeritus at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of three monographs: Joseph Conrad: Betrayal and Identity; Cross-Cultural Encounters in Conrad’s Malay Fiction; and Conrad’s Secrets, which won the Adam Gillon Award from the Joseph Conrad Society of America. He co-edited Conrad and Theory with Andrew Gibson and Conrad and Language with Katherine Isabel Baxter, and has recently published a critical biography, Joseph Conrad, with Reaktion Books. He is Chair of the Joseph Conrad Society (UK) and recipient of the Ian P. Watt Award for Excellence from the Joseph Conrad Society of America.
Professor Hampson’s recent lecture on Conrad is available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se–ibps1aI
Zoom meeting (20th April, 06:15 PM London)