How Canada is Described in the Writings of Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women: The Feminine Experience in the Margins of the British Empire

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This book aims at introducing a new perspective on the general and popular debate on empire building and nation building in Britain in the early stage of the second British Empire.

The work investigates the representations of Canada circulating at the heart of the British Empire, in the "metropole", during the three decades preceding Canadian Confederation. The author takes Canada as an epitome for the "white" Empire and focuses on the representations of the Canadian colonies which circulated in the metropole, through women’s texts. By focusing on Canada and its representations, the author also brings new perspectives on the way the Victorians imagined their colonies.

The book shows that the British North American colonies took pride of place in the editorial world through the publication of women emigrants' personal narratives and women’s travel accounts on Canada. The author shows that there was clearly a female way of representing the Empire: from the margins of the colonies, but also from the margins of the publishing world where “colonial” books were assigned. The author clearly analyses the contribution of middle-class female authors to the current debates on colonial and imperial policies in Canada, thus taking part in and influencing official views on empire-building, at the heart of the metropole.


“Le Jeune is not only furthering knowledge in Empire and post-colonial studies but also contributing to gender studies. This is a far-reaching work, clearly worded and free of unnecessary jargon. The author has theoretical insight combined with a talent for close textual analysis; the result is an extremely stimulating volume that will undoubtedly make its mark in scholarly circles.”

-Prof. Charlotte Sturgess,
Strasbourg University

“Le Jeune will undoubtedly fuel fresh interest from readers in a historical period that has not received the attention it deserves. The author asks her readers to take a fresh look at the interventions of the male editors who retailored these female texts before they were deemed ready for publication, rendering the issue of creation and reception far more complex than one would naively assume it to be.”

-Prof. Claire Omhovere,
Paul Valery University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor Charlotte Sturgess


Chapter 1: Through women’s eyes, Canada in the margins of America (1821-1836) – Frances Wright’s Views of Society and Manners in America

Chapter 2: “A Woman’s Pen Alone…” Catharine Parr Traill’s The Backwoods of Canada (1837)

Chapter 3: Women’s Canadian narratives: in the margins of the publishing world

Chapter 4: Anna Brownwell Jameson’s Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada – With a woman’s “soul and senses” (1838)

Chapter 5: “The Empire Writes Back…” – Susanna Moodie, Roughing It in the Bush or Life in Canada (1852-1854)

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