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AN "ENLARGEMENT OF HOME": ANNA JAMESON AND THE REPRESENTATION OF NATIONALISM LISAVARGO University of Saskatchewan Armed with a supply of woollen blankets and a foot-muff, Anna Jameson crossed the Atlantic in late 1836 and embarked upon the journey recorded in her '"fragments' of a journal addressed to a friend," Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada. A short time after its publication in 1838, she commented, "At this moment I have fame and praise, for my name is in every newspaper." Joanna Baillie was moved to write, "... I may at any rate thank you for the agreeable amusement of the curious and interesting information we have received from it. You make the reader, both as to your internal world and external, live along with yourself, and an excellent companion we find you" (Thomas 139).1 The British public's curiosity was likely a product of interest generated by the Rebellions of 1837. But the internal world Baillie alludes to suggests that Jameson's narrative maps more territory than the terrain of Canada. Her particular concern is to present a critique and a rewriting of nationalism through the lens of domesticity. Because she did not expect to make Toronto her permanent residence, Jameson writes as a visitor who compares what she sees with her home country. In fact, she had left Canada by the time of the outbreak of the Upper Canada Rebellion in November 1837, but was witness to the climate of discontent, which she documents as part of her impressions. Winter Studies and Summer Rambles has received the attention of Canadian scholars for its description of these experiences, but more can be said with respect to what Jameson intends British readers to gain from her travelogue.2 Needless to say, her reflections are a product of the times in which she lives. The 183Os marked social and technological transformations, including the coming of the railway, the passage of the First Reform Act, the abolition of slavery in British dominions, the accession of a woman to the throne of Britain^ and the issue of a "People's Charter." If such changes confirmed to the British Victorian Review 24.1 (Summer 1998) 54Victorian Review that they were the pre-eminent power in the world, Jameson's contestation of this sense of superiority provides a theme to her work that is at least as important to the work as its portrayal of Canada. For all the exoticism of its locations, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles lodges many concerns in the familiar realm of the domestic, which was being entrenched along with nationalism in British society during the 1830s. Domesticity is the site where Jameson's internal and external worlds meet. Victorian domesticity has come to be regarded as having more depth than the arresting portrait of the all-sacrificing angel drawn by Virginia Woolf in "Professions for Women." Recently scholars have argued that rather than merely being angels of the house, bourgeois Victorian women wielded a significant amount of power and influence; Winter Studies and Summer Rambles incorporates this power, as well as an understanding of how its particular manifestation is deforming not only with respect to women but to the empire as a whole. Mary Poovey discovers in representations of gender an "unevenness" which destabilizes the binary opposition inscribed in Victorian culture that constructs places for men and women in terms of separate spheres. The unevenness both "characterizes the conservative ideological work of these representations" and allows for an "oppositional voice" on the part of women (Uneven Developments 4). Elizabeth Langland extends Poovey's notion of unevenness to consider the power it offered women. She argues that Victorian middle-class women controlled significant discursive practices to ensure a middle-class hegemony (9). The conflicted nature of inscriptions of the female subject became an avenue through which women eventually gained rights (Langland 11): "The image of the passive domestic angel, which complemented that of the active, public man, was contradicted by the bourgeois wife's pivotal supervisory role within the class system. These contradictions could not be fully bridged in the tracts, and the resulting representational gap became an opening for change" (Langland 62). If in the 183Os change was largely...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 53-68
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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