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Title page for ETD etd-07192013-121721

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Johnson, Shelby Lynn
Author's Email Address shelby.l.johnson@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07192013-121721
Title Traces of Haiti: Silence, History, and an Ethics of Reading in Frances Burney's The Wanderer
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Scott Juengel Committee Chair
  • Haiti
  • race
  • Frances Burney
  • The Wanderer
  • history
Date of Defense 2013-06-03
Availability unrestricted
In this essay, I wish to study Frances Burney’s theorization of history in her preface to The Wanderer, and her choice to frame Juliet’s representation through narrative deferrals and silences as the means through which this guiding aesthetic principle illuminates the novel’s consideration of an ethics of reading. I specifically argue that Burney’s particular imagining of history and reading is encoded within her representation of Juliet’s shifting racial presence in the novel. By invoking an “ethics of reading,” I would like to suggest that however permeable and changeable Juliet’s skin color becomes in the text, her representation becomes a site from which readers could encounter and respond to migrant figures circulating the Atlantic world, and that Burney carefully narrates an array of responses to Juliet through the voices of other characters in the novel. Finally, I argue that Juliet’s entrance in the novel as (seemingly) a francophone black woman would seem to reference the emergence of the first black republic, Haiti, in 1804 at the conclusion of the slave revolution in the French colony of St. Domingue, an event Juliet’s entrance appears to obliquely dwell on.
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