Conrad Under Western Eyes

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Michael Damon Reid, Singapore University of Technology and Design


    My essay, uses the case of Joseph Conrad to document the shifting ways that Anglo-American scholars have written about this émigré Polish novelist over the course of the twentieth-century. Less a study of Conrad’s fiction than a reception history of the changing ways that Conrad’s fiction and authorial persona have been construed by Anglo-American scholars over the last century, my paper uses Conrad to chart the changing ‘imagined communities’ that emerge not in Conrad’s fiction but in the act of critical and scholarly engagement with his fictions. Typically thought as elusive, protean, and hard to place, Conrad in fact serves as an index who reveals how Anglo-American scholars themselves have both contributed to and been determined by a social imaginary riven between east and west. By studying how Conrad has been described, as a cultural hybrid, as a marginal man living between two worlds, we therefore learn something about the processes of simplification out of which imagined geographies and the ontology of the social world spring. Or such is the argument of my essay.