Traditionally, the British Empire is studied through the lens of British imperial
rule in Asia, Africa, or the Americas, while scholars brush aside what was the vortex of
British foreign policy in the second half of the nineteenth century—the Eastern
Question, or the question of what to do with the Southeastern European subject peoples
of the “decaying” Ottoman Empire. Reading closely late nineteenth-century British and
Balkan expository prose and fiction that deal exclusively with the Eastern Question, I
demonstrate that in the second half of the nineteenth century, Britain’s foreign policy
was formed not only in the context of its interests overseas, but also, and perhaps more
significantly, in the context of other existing empires in central Europe, as well as in the
near east, such as the Russian and the Ottoman.
A defining concern of this dissertation is also to demonstrate that the Balkans’
image of the other within Europe is largely a post-Enlightenment Western European
construction that was discursively hardened at the end of the nineteenth century by both
Western European and Balkan intellectuals. In discursive terms, I claim, this image was
virtually parallel to Orientalist constructions of Western Europe’s colonial territories in
Asia or Africa. My claim stems from reading in dialogue late nineteenth-century
Western European texts (Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man and Bram Stoker’s
Dracula) and Balkan texts (Aleko Konstantinov’s Bai Ganio and Dobri Voinikov’s The
Misunderstood Civilization). I position these texts in relation to a critical discourse of
nationalism and empire, as well as examine how these texts reflect or reconstruct these
notions’ accepted meanings and connotations in the second half of the nineteenth
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2009. Major: English. Advisor: Professor Andrew Elfenbein. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 158 pages.
Tchaprazov, Stoyan Vassilev.
The Eastern Question, Western Europe, and the Balkans in Fin-de-Siècle Literature..
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