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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Olive Schreiner and the labour of writing
Author:Green, LouiseISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review
Geographic term:South Africa
About person:Olive Emilie Albertina Schreiner (1855-1920)
Abstract:Written in the 1870s, while Olive Schreiner was working as a governess on a farm in the Cradock District, her 'The story of an African farm' represents the beginning of her lifelong engagement with the dominant imperialist discourse on human nature and social identity. This paper explores the way in which her writing reflects the tension between the decontextualized knowledge of scientific positivism and social Darwinist theory and her own experiential knowledge deeply marked by the context she inhabited. As a white woman living in South Africa at the turn of the century, deeply concerned with scientific developments and their social implications, she occupied a disturbing position. Scientific study, particularly the emerging field of biology, was turning its attention more and more towards the body and particularly towards the body marked by race and gender. She found herself in the awkward position of being both an authoritative subject, participating in discussions about the role of women in contemporary debates, and at the same time the passive object of investigation. Particular attention is paid to Schreiner's 'The story of an African farm' and 'Woman and labour'. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]