Heart of Darkness: The unconventional adventure story

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
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This research re-situates Heart of Darkness within the contexts of the English adventure fiction genre during the period of high imperialism and brings to light a feature of the novel that has escaped scholarly analysis, that of the racialization of white Eureopeans. In re-situating Heart of Darkness in its literary historical contexts, this thesis identifies the adventure genre as a whole as more complex and ambivalent concerning both race and Empire than has previously been recognized. Although these inconsistencies complicate the genre, adventure fiction nonetheless reinforces the status of whiteness in order to promote contemporary racial hierarchies and imperialism. Heart of Darkness, however, does not. Conrad presents his adventure story and its white heroes with a substantial degree and frequency of unconventionality that both critiques imperialism and disrupts its promotion. Moreover, through his unconventional representation of whiteness, Conrad generates a rather startling ambivalence toward white racial identity.
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