Tanya Agathocleous: Introduction to “Empire and Unfielding”


Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr’s recently-published Ten Books that Shaped the British Empire is a collection of essays that combines book history and empire studies to trace the ways that ten different colonial and anticolonial texts circulated in what they call an “imperial commons,” shaping ideas about empire and world literature as they traveled.

As a method, Ten Books explores some of the concerns of V21 – taking the Victorian object beyond its own time and space; having a commitment to presentism in that it considers empire then as well as what empire means now; historicizing the book as a medium; drawing together diverse theories in the spirit of experimentation that can speak to a range of constituencies; and interrupting logics of both historical and literary practice.  As an exhortation to experiment in line with V21’s methodological commitments, panelists were asked to choose one title, Victorian or otherwise, that queries the disciplinary relationship between Victorian studies and studies of empire.



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