Date of Award

8-17-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Christopher R. Orchard, D.Phil.

Second Advisor

Karen A. Dandurand, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael T. Williamson, Ph.D.

Abstract

Conrad’s time was drastically imperiled by the capitalist/imperialist rivalry that eventuated a geopolitical partitioning of the whole world. Europe’s ‘peripheral’ others, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, were thereby integrated into the evolving capitalist system and positioned in unbalanced relationships with the center. The centrifugality of capitalist ideology, the economic conditions within the ensuing global system, and the geopolitical peculiarities of the system’s peripheries are all paralleled in Conrad’s fiction. Thus, following the ‘dependency theory’ of core-periphery configuration, this dissertation aims at appraising the ‘success’ of capitalism in the peripheral settings of Conrad’s works. I examine the first setting in two Malayan novels, and I particularly focus on the role of ideology in deciding the outcome of the political and economic strife between the major ideological blocs. Eventually, capitalist practices in this periphery are de-ideologized and epistemologically annulled by an incorporeal, subaltern ideology. In Conrad’s African periphery, I trace the tripodal, discursive structure of true/false, power/knowledge, and the carceral that guarantees the continuity of the European capitalist enterprise in Africa. Yet, I show how disruptive points of resistance find space in the cogito/madness experience, effecting physically and discursively an imported rupture in Europe’s mission civilisatrice. Last, I scrutinize the historical ‘development’ of a neoliberal, capitalist paradigm in Conrad’s Latin America. Drawing upon the Hegelian triadic dialectics, I delineate the regressive ‘dementia’ that befalls capitalist history due to various, intrinsic contradictions. Consequently, nowhere in Conrad’s peripheral settings does the capitalist system survive the multiple, lethal probabilities that Conrad outlines. While my dissertation uses Marxist, as well as Postcolonial, theoretical methods in establishing this conclusion, I accentuate the fact that Conrad can hardly be categorized within his contemporaneous, Marxist tradition. The drama of failure in Conrad’s fiction unfolds a number of deviations from the capitalist routes anticipated by the Marxists of his time. Externalizing the role of subalterns and foreseeing capitalist continuity beyond the imperialist boundaries indicate Conrad’s singularity in comprehending the crises paralyzing the capitalist system.

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