Skip to main content Accesibility Help


  • Patricia McKee (a1)

In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847), multiple discursive strategies contend with the difficulty of determining racial identity. My aim here is not to delineate a straightforward or unambiguous racial discourse in the novel but rather to clarify the usefulness of ambiguity to the narrative's racialism. If, as Ann Laura Stoler has argued, racism in the nineteenth century depended on flexible rather than fixed criteria, Brontë's novel allows for the study of such criteria and of the discursive displacements that assign them to diverse human qualities.

Hide All
Abrahams, Yvette. “Images of Sara Bartman: Sexuality, Race, and Gender in Early-Nineteenth-Century Britain.” Nation, Empire, Colony: Historicizing Gender and Race. Ed. Pierson, Ruth Roach and Chaudhuri, Nupur. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998. 220–36.
Armstrong, Nancy. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. New York: Oxford UP, 1987.
Bellis, Peter J.In the Window-Seat: Vision and Power in Jane Eyre.” ELH 54.3 (1987): 639–52.
Brody, Jennifer DeVere. Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity, and Victorian Culture. Durham: Duke UP, 1998.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. London: Penguin, 1996.
Buzard, James. Disorienting Fiction: The Autoethnographic Work of Nineteenth-Century British Novels. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005.
Coombes, Annie E.Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture and Popular Imagination in Late Victorian and Edwardian England. New Haven: Yale UP, 1994.
Dames, Nicholas. Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction,1810–1870. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001.
David, Deirdre. Rule Britannia: Women, Empire, and Victorian Writing. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995.
Dyer, Richard. White. London: Routledge, 1997.
Ferguson, Frances. Pornography, the Theory: What Utilitarianism Did to Action. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004.
Goodlad, Lauren M.E.Beyond the Panopticon: Victorian Britain and the Critical Imagination.” PMLA 118.3 (2003): 539–56.
Grewal, Inderpal. Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel. Durham: Duke UP, 1996.
Kromm, Jane. “Visual Culture and Scopic Custom in Jane Eyre and Villette.” Victorian Literature and Culture 26.2 (1998): 369–94.
Lloyd, David. “Race under Representation.” The Oxford Literary Review 13.1–2 (1991): 6294.
Lloyd, David, and Thomas, Paul. Culture and the State. London: Routledge, 1998.
Makdisi, Saree. Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.
McCann, Andrew. Marcus Clarke's Bohemia: Literature and Modernity in Colonial Melbourne. Melbourne: Melbourne UP, 2004.
Meyer, Susan. Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women's Fiction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996.
Michie, Elsie. “White Chimpanzees and Oriental Despots: Racial Stereotyping and Edward Rochester.” Jane Eyre: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Newman, Beth. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996. 584–98.
Poovey, Mary. “The Production of Abstract Space.” Making Worlds: Gender, Metaphor, Materiality. Ed. Aiken, Susan Hardy, Brigham, Ann, Marston, Sallie A., and Waterstone, Penny. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1998. 6989.
Poovey, Mary. Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1988.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992.
Said, Edward W.Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979.
Schacker, Jennifer. National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2003.
Stepan, Nancy. The Idea of Race in Science: Great Britain 1800–1960. Hamden: Archon, 1982.
Stoler, Ann Laura. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Durham: Duke UP, 1995.
Stoler, Ann Laura. “Racial Histories and their Regimes of Truth.” Political Power and Social Theory 11 (1997): 183206.
Thomas, Sue. “The Tropical Extravagance of Bertha Mason.” Victorian Literature and Culture 27.1 (1999): 117.
Welsh, Alexander. The City of Dickens. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1971.
Young, Robert J. C.Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race. London: Routledge, 1995.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed