In this book, Mary Jean Corbett explores fictional and non-fictional representations of Ireland's relationship with England throughout the nineteenth century. Through postcolonial and feminist theory, she considers how cross-cultural contact is negotiated through tropes of marriage and family, and demonstrates how familial rhetoric sometimes works to sustain, sometimes to contest the structures of colonial inequality. Analyzing novels by Edgeworth, Owenson, Gaskell, Kingsley, and Trollope, as well as writings by Burke, Carlyle, Engels, Arnold, and Mill, Corbett argues that the colonizing imperative for 'reforming' the Irish in an age of imperial expansion constitutes a largely unrecognized but crucial element in the rhetorical project of English nation-formation. By situating her readings within the varying historical and rhetorical contexts that shape them, she revises the critical orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that currently prevail in Irish and English studies, and offers a fresh perspective on important aspects of Victorian culture.

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