Refiguring Speech
Late Victorian Fictions of Empire and the Poetics of Talk
Amy R. Wong



On the other side of the bitter struggles against domination and for the liberation of the imagination, there opens up a multiply dispersed zone in which we are gripped by vertigo. But this is not the vertigo preceding apocalypse and Babel’s fall. It is the shiver of a beginning, confronted with extreme possibility.

—ÉDOUARD GLISSANT, The Poetics of Relation (1990)

THIS BOOK ENGAGES AN unusual grouping of four late Victorian fictions of empire, selected for how they illuminate features of a crisis of speech that reached a particularly intensified pitch in the final decades of the nineteenth century. By speech, I mean a certain proprietary fantasy in the Anglo-American imagination that prizes a perfect tethering of expression to intent, as well as its associated aesthetics of self-possession. In such a fantasy, speech is the act of flag burning that will finally deliver a clear-cut judiciary decision. In more mundane contexts, speech is the fluent and articulate lecture, or the perfectly witty comment delivered at just the right moment. In two fictions that are well known, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), and two that are less so, George Meredith’s One of Our Conquerors (1891) and Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford’s jointly written The Inheritors: An Extravagant Story (1901), this kind of speech unravels in somewhat embarrassingly spectacular ways, alongside the colonialist selves and worlds that it sutures together. My approach to these fictions will be somewhat perverse in its bid to follow the logic of this unraveling further than these texts are willing to go. These fictions of empire share the sense that the unraveling of speech will mean the end of the world. My aim, instead, is to follow Afro-Caribbean thinkers—especially Édouard Glissant and Sylvia Wynter—to show how these texts imagine, if unwittingly, the end of colonial worlding.

In each of my readings, I “refigure” the materials of speech that these literary works have already begun to disarticulate into a different poetics of communication, which I have opted simply to call “talk.” Talk, which I see as emerging out of scenes where speech fails, stands on its own poetics in a manner that has always exceeded Anglo-American speech’s colonialist, proprietary underpinnings. Talk is what forms like mimicry, inarticulacy, and dysfluency are if they were not described in terms of speech’s degeneration. Talk is also what Babel could be—a condition of multilingualism that is not the end of the world—if Anglo-American speech were not so obsessed with the self-possession of native English speakers. For Glissant, the multilingual conditions of the Caribbean and creolization give rise to his reworking of the Babel myth: there is neither an outside to nor a “return” from colonialism; métissage is the ontological condition from which anticolonial poetics finds “the shiver of a beginning.” What Glissant reworks is not colonialism so much as the view of colonialism as an end or ending. Taking inspiration from Glissant, and from other Afro-Caribbean thinkers whom Victorian studies rarely engaged in its encounter with postcolonial theory in the 1980s and 1990s, this book develops a conception of talk that seeks what may be “on the other side” of a struggle with and liberation from speech, offering a way around questions that have stalled out before the insurmountable ideological barriers to subaltern speech.

When Glissant insists on an aesthetic that is “on the other side” of liberation from the colonial imaginary, he offers “errantry [errance]” as a new model of relation-making. According to Glissant, errantry is rhizomatic, with a nod toward Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s well-known formulation, but distinct from the nomadic movement shared by the Western exile and the conqueror alike.1 In both exile and conquest, argues Glissant, the origin remains a major point of reference: in the former, there may be a rejection of (or more complicated negotiation with) one’s roots; in the latter, the root becomes transient, striving to generalize that which is actually particular. This process of generalizing the particular, and erasing the traces of particularity, is central to the project of Western colonialism. Errantry, however, escapes such identificatory consolidations and makes space for what might be contingently formed through a relationship with others.2 Its dialectical movements are situated, where totality is merely “conceive[d]” and “any claims to sum it up or to possess it” are immediately “renounce[d].” An errant person “plunges into the opacities of that part of the world to which he has access.” But errance is by no means idle adventure or blind wandering—rather, as translator Betsy Wing has clarified, “errantry . . . knows at every moment where one is—at every moment in relation to the other.”3 One may begin with vertiginous feeling amid “the opacities,” but it is a moral imperative in errantry to attempt to know where one is in relation, as limited as that knowing may be.4

This is the manner of situating—rather than mapping—that I will take up, in my account of late Victorian fictions of empire, and in relation to other scholarly conceptions of speech I have encountered. Acknowledgment that the constellations I set up here are necessarily partial ones is also important for honoring the nonaerial view from which any “poetics of relation” works. When Glissant says “access,” I think of how we are primarily conditioned by our positioning in any given domain (professional, social, and so forth), though our conditioning is also produced from less structured—and more opaque—circumstances and experiences. For instance, my own path to borrowing a sense of “talk” from sociolinguistic understandings—as I will later elaborate upon—might owe as much to an immigrants’ child’s awareness of language bias and scholarly trends coinciding with my graduate education as to my own (nonexhaustive) review of approaches in search of an apt conceptualization of this book’s primary concerns. I wish to make clear up front that methodological positioning is always an immersed project of incomplete mapping and also that literary criticism itself is a constructed aesthetic: as Wynter cautions, “rethinking” the aesthetics of coloniality means turning a “deciphering practice” (we could say, a disarticulating one) not only on the objects of our criticism but also on how our criticism is made.5 Albeit from a perspective oriented less toward criticism as aesthetics, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has also warned that “the production of theory is also a practice; the opposition between abstract ‘pure’ theory and concrete ‘applied’ practice is too quick and easy.”6 It is important, given the particular arguments this book makes, to point out that what we have often thought of as “mapping out” our work in relation to what is imagined as a stable and bounded “field” hides its own citational politics; that politics, too, may be motivated toward proprietary—and colonialist—regulation.

Here, I will offer a brief detour into an account of a small archive of Victorian manuals on the art of conversation, which catalyzed a set of questions and concerns that would eventually result in this book. Though they will not be featured in the chapters that follow, I marshal them here as objects that not only tell something of an origin story for this project, but also are capable of telegraphically laying out the interwoven concerns of this book. My initial encounter with them several years ago inspired questions such as why somewhat abstract qualities of speech like fluency were entangled with proprietary rights of transfer, whether a disdain for mass print media in these manuals had something to do with the stakes of “owning” speech, and how late nineteenth-century concerns about Britain’s quickly expanding empire might enter into these manuals’ territorializing formations of a domestic, bourgeois speech community. These manuals (and sometimes also periodical essays written in a similar style) were clearly aimed at a growing middle and upper-middle class with aspirations to leisure, and became most popular in the 1880s before tapering off after the turn of the century. As I will lay out here, these manuals sought not only to naturalize certain social performances of speech, but also to regulate how speech should circulate; as such, they are a part of a territorialization of speech that, as I will argue, becomes markedly frenetic in the final decades of the Victorian era, and the British empire’s rush to its height.

The only scholarly survey of these handbooks and essays on conversation I have found is an account appended to E. A. W. St. George’s book, Browning and Conversation (1993); in his study of Robert Browning’s somewhat truculent conversational poetics, the manuals serve mainly to illustrate a form of Victorian bourgeois congeniality that Browning resisted.7 With an emphasis on conversation as a pastime or leisure activity (rather than, say, a form of idealized, rational exchange, as sought under a conversational paradigm familiar to eighteenth-century republicanism), these manuals were directed toward the naturalization of a certain upper-middle-class political aesthetic that had clearly emerged by the late nineteenth century.8 As Rosetta Young has argued, though the term “upper middle class” did not become common until around 1860, the nineteenth-century Anglo-American novel from Jane Austen to Henry James played a central role, alongside etiquette manuals, in establishing a certain form of sociable conversation as a speech genre possessed of quasi-magical, capital-generating qualities.9 Reflecting an upper-middle-class sense of leisure, Roger Boswell defines conversation in The Art of Conversation (1867) as “mak[ing] the time pass agreeably, for others as well as ourselves”;10 similarly, for J. P. Mahaffy—Oscar Wilde’s tutor at Trinity College Dublin—in his Principles on the Art of Conversation, conversation is a “daily pleasure,” a “recreation open to all.”11 Though such language suggests universality, these accounts do rather little to cover up the fact that these manuals were intended for those who could afford enough of an escape from routines of labor to develop congenial selves through the proper circulations of speech: after all, the manuals often reference settings of domestic, bourgeois interior spaces, such as drawing rooms, dining rooms, supper tables, and even staircases.12

Still, the Victorian art of conversation manuals maintained, at least rhetorically, this openness “to all.” In upholding principles of circulation, such as fluency, pacing, and balance, that remained somewhat abstract, these manuals also tried to reside in an impersonal realm of unquestioned common sense. What something like “flow” entails, for instance—if it is about pacing or rhythm, or if it is a property of a single speaker or a matter of conversational relays—receives little elaboration. Such abstracted principles of form and transfer without much further detail represent an important departure from both more prescriptive conduct manuals of the eighteenth century, and rather technical Victorian elocution manuals for the university elite.13 In a preface to his manual, The Ability to Converse (1912), for instance, Stanley M. Bligh expresses anxiety lest his readers mistake his work as a “guide to conversational formularies”; rather, his is a theory of conversational “planes” (anecdotal, personal, scientific, political, aesthetic, ethical, spiritual) that wishes, above all, that speakers remain “as free and unconstrained as possible” to “adapt and enlarge” conversation “to suit [their] own purposes.”14 Bligh considers his conversational planes something of an innovation, but they share with earlier manuals an ethos of what might be called form at a middle distance—in line, for instance, with what Mahaffy describes as the “natural easy flow of talk,” which “consists in following the chances of the moment, drifting with the temper of the company, suiting the discourse to whatever subject may turn up.”15

The matter-of-fact, the commonsensical: these are the accompanying affective tenors of form at a middle distance, which contribute to the naturalization of such properties as equality, flow, and adaptability. Such properties, in my mind, are ultimately preoccupied with embodiment and territorial control. Apportioning speech quantities, the regulation of flow, and the idealizing of a responsiveness to environment are aligned with proprietary logic, where to possess speech and to know how and when to transfer it slides into being a self-possessed person. But why this recourse to these proprietary abstractions of conversational form, at this time? Against what perceived threats, exactly, were these seemingly matter-of-fact art of conversation manuals defending?

One answer that the manuals themselves bring to the surface is a shared sense that the conditions of late nineteenth-century media, especially the growing availability of cheap print, caused regulatory anxieties about the entrance of working-class readers into the spaces of the virtual public sphere. Though, again, not always explicit about class, the art of conversation manuals typically take as given that conversation is a dying art in need of rescue because of the rise of cheap forms of mass print. It is not hard to see, for instance, that when Jane Francesca Wilde (Oscar Wilde’s mother) worries that newspapers, periodicals, and “cheap literature” were “destroy[ing] beauty, grace, style, dignity, and the art of conversation,” she is holding up an imagined, closed-off, and prior world of speech to counter anxieties about unsavory print materials infiltrating the social world of middle-and upper-class Victorians.16 Similarly, the class-inflected worries that mass print could have a degenerative effect on individual and social mores might be readily observed from how the author of How to Shine in Society; Or, The Art of Conversation laments that in “the present age, wherever you go, whether into a railway carriage, a steamboat, a restaurant, or a coffee-house, two-thirds of your fellow travellers have a book, a paper, or a pamphlet before them.”17 In the view of this author, these forms of print consumption easily become addictions, “like smoking or dram-drinking,” removing individuals from the commonsensical good of social circulation and converse. If such sentiments seem familiar in our own day—in injunctions to put down our phones and return to face-to-face interaction, as featured, for instance, in Sherry Turkle’s best-selling critiques of social media—it might be worth looking more critically at what world of speech such injunctions imagine a “return” to, and who makes it up.18

Of course, these Victorian art of conversation manuals were also a part of the burgeoning forms of print ephemera that they were railing against—and thus, many of them note their own existence as something of a rapprochement with the new conditions of media. When the authors of manuals considered the relationship between periodicals and conversation, for instance, they tended to say how the former should always be in service to the latter: commonplace books should be kept to store only article titles and other tidbits that might be recalled for conversation, as Roger Boswell recommends, and they should always be updated to avoid stagnant conversation.19 Likewise, Mahaffy regards popular “society papers,” such as Punch, as mere aids to agreeable chitchat, asserting that these papers “owe their circulation to their usefulness in furnishing topics for . . . conversation.”20 “Book men” and voracious consumers of newspapers, periodicals, and handbooks alike receive Mahaffy’s censure, for the “enormous increase of the means of acquiring knowledge . . . are by no means accompanied by corresponding strides in the art of conversation.”21 Whether thinking of print as a conversational aid, or pointing to reading and speaking as incommensurate skillsets, such comments tended to enact protective, territorializing distinctions to cordon off speech communities from the wider world of print.

When I was first considering these manuals, I was also thinking about which literary objects seemed most apt for illustrating different facets of a crisis in speech I was locating within the late Victorian period. On the one hand, fictions about empire seemed an obvious choice for understanding the stakes of speech in late nineteenth-century literature, given the moment in which nineteenth-century British literature became an important archive for postcolonial theorists—most notably, Spivak and Homi K. Bhabha—interested in the matter of limits to subaltern voicing. On the other hand, the question of subaltern speech has become, in both Victorian and postcolonial studies, somewhat over and done with, even a dead end, to be regarded, as Rey Chow has more recently brought up, with some wistful melancholy.22 Moreover, I wanted to retain what I was thinking about in relation to the democratizing but also increasingly fragmented media landscape’s perceived threats to longstanding Anglo-American understandings of speech, not least because of the obvious relevance of such matters to the twenty-first century. Given these considerations, it was not entirely clear to me how to proceed—and for someone specializing in Victorian literature, the study of media is often segregated from the study of empire and race.23

Mulling over these conundrums, I came across what can only be described as a gallingly racist but “throwaway” beginning to Mahaffy’s manual that I had glossed over in my earlier and admittedly cursory review of the archive of art of conversation manuals:

Whatever contempt the North American Indian or the Mohammedan Tartar may feel for talking as mere chatter, it is agreed among us that people must meet frequently, both men and women, and that not only is it agreeable to talk, but that it is a matter of common courtesy to say something, even when there is hardly anything to say.24

Now race is not explicit like this in most other manuals, nor apparent in the way that class politics is from how these manuals discuss media consumption. But as Rei Terada has cautioned, the demarcation of the racial from the “nonracial” is a colonialist nineteenth-century technology, traceable in particular to Hegelian philosophy’s understanding of historicity and consequently, what is “real” as nonracial.25 Though with a keener focus on racial logic and work from Black studies, Terada’s argument about the legacy of Hegel complements what postcolonial thinkers like Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, and Gauri Viswanathan have argued in their work on the inextricability of the nineteenth-century British literary canon from imperialism.26 It therefore occurred to me that the throwaway nature of Mahaffy’s comment and the general absence of race (the seeming “nonracial” concerns of the manuals) make race-thinking even more important, more grounding, more commonsensical.

Read with more attention, and in relation to other manuals, Mahaffy’s comment unfolds Darwinian-inflected, racialized hierarchies that point to speech as a matter of territorial control. The contrast between the ostensibly nonconversational (and by extension, noncongenial, uncivilized) Native Americans and Muslim Turks—two very different groups from very different parts of the globe strategically flattened and fused together—does more than distinguish the “us” of the civilized West from its “other.” It enables a universal consolidation of this “us,” which makes an ostensibly inclusive gesture by highlighting “both men and women,” as well as the already agreed-upon good of saying something for the sake of the also already agreed-upon good of “common courtesy.” Racial form thus bolsters class politics, in this moment when the English middle class was beginning to have more time for leisure, and thus might fill this time with “say[ing] something, even when there is hardly anything to say.”

With this in mind, a colonialist dynamic of selectively mapping, fixing, and containing an imagined terrain of speech (newly highlighted, but purportedly always there) becomes fairly obvious in these conversation manuals, while rhetorics of racial denigration—often in a Darwinian idiom—are applied liberally to bodies that are dysfluent, that claim too much speech, or are otherwise un-self-possessed. Some handbooks did turn more explicitly to the physical body, forsaking form at a middle distance, but only when elaborating features of “unnatural” speakers.27 In these elaborations I came to see Darwinian racialization as a powerful tool for delineating a certain form of selfhood—tagged to a certain aesthetic of speech—as universally human against a plastic sense of animalistic others. Poor conversationalists were proliferatively consigned to subhuman evolutionary backwardness: Boswell’s manual, for instance, devotes half of its pages to taxonomizing types of bad conversationalists (the Bear, Bully, Differential, Jabberer, Proser, Rigmarole, Punster, Joker, Monotone, Egotist, Self-Seeker, Exclusive, or Mute) who are paired with physiognomies tagged, through metonymic racializing markers, to class, gender, and disability. Notably, there is no section to taxonomize good conversationalists, who thus remain securely tethered to an abstract but commonsensically natural form of human speech. The prurient interest in the embodiments of “bad” speech meanwhile overtakes a reviewer of Beatrice Knolly’s and Florence Bell’s handbooks, who expends much energy mocking the poor conversationalist who “has given free play to his lingual and maxillary muscles,” his “wagging jaws,” and the animalistic way in which such speakers emit “mechanical beast-cries, dictated by the bodily instincts of the moment, akin to the twittering of birds, the purring of cats, and the lowing of oxen.”28 It is such degenerate specimens of humanity that the art of conversation tries to defend against.

As I will demonstrate through my readings of late Victorian fictions of empire, the kinds of selves that the manuals try to suture up—by figuring “natural” speech through forms of transfer that elide the embodiments of its ideal participants—unravel into the kinds of degenerate speech taxonomized above and more, sometimes together with the colonialist worlds that they hold together. In these readings, this book finds its primary focus in tracing how the unspooling of colonialist logics of speech often involves the use of “bad” aesthetics. Most obviously, the unraveling of speech and ownership is enacted through characters’ bodies and dialogue: speakers who cannot hold, store, regulate, or otherwise control their speech in ways that make them seem, sometimes, like glitching, broken media. These bodies—primarily white, and ranging from pirates and peasants to the Anglo-European imperial elite—in some instances parrot, and in other instances are excessively embodied, profusely inarticulate, and dysfluent in ways that underscore racialization’s elastic and proliferative mechanisms in marking unproprietary speech across class, gender, and disability.

These literary examples not only seem particularly concerned with scenes of un-self-possessed speech, but also allow for the migration of this sense of speech’s degradation into narration and other structural elements, such as plot and genre. In Treasure Island, for instance, the adventure plot’s dependence on a protagonist “adrift” with the flow of unexpected contingencies complements Stevenson’s apparent interest in the uneven and treacherous conditions that structure any exchange of speech in everyday talk. In Meredith’s One of Our Conquerors, the sense of the protagonist-conqueror’s inarticulacy, which owes to his desire to digest and distill into language more than he can handle, is registered also in the novel’s awkwardly profuse narration. As a group, Treasure Island, Dracula, One of Our Conquerors, and The Inheritors cross and hybridize between romance, imperial gothic, satire, comedy, realism, science fiction, and speculative fiction. In the context of their fairly explicit engagements with crises of territorialization, at the level of both imperial land grabs and the extension of media, I argue that these varied registers of formal and generic instability disarticulate colonialist notions of speech and selfhood.

In the wake of their disarticulation, we have to construct what else is possible, through different critical assemblages that have largely been missed in our approaches to the British empire and to Victorian literature. Out of speech’s dissolution, I argue, we can get to “the other side” of Glissant’s anticolonial imaginary by positing talk as a negative space of communication against which speech has always made and continues to make itself. In the following paragraphs, I will say more about the critical assemblages that will get us there, in relation to earlier work in Victorian studies and postcolonial theory, as well as where they meet up with deconstruction and sociolinguistic approaches to talk. I also provide more historical clarity regarding the crisis of speech I observe at the end of the British nineteenth century: how concerns about media came to be interwoven with concerns about imperial territorialization and how we can situate this crisis within a longer genealogy of speech and Anglo-American empire. This genealogy begins, in my account, with John Locke.


1. Édouard Glissant’s section on errantry and exile begins with an open reference to Deleuze and Guattari: “rhizomatic thought is the principle behind what I call the Poetics of Relation, in which each and every identity is extended through a relationship with the Other” (Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing [Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997], 11).

2. Glissant’s approach to relation and contingent selfhood in a world indelibly changed by Western colonialism is also resonant in Alicia Mireles Christoff’s readings of novels by George Eliot and Thomas Hardy in Novel Relations: Victorian Fiction and British Psychoanalysis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).

3. Glissant, Poetics of Relation, 20–21; Betsy Wing, “Introduction,” in Glissant, Poetics of Relation, xvi.

4. For an interesting defense of not-knowing as a form of tact, see David Russell, Tact: Aesthetic Liberalism and the Essay Form in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018), who argues that tact resists the “exploitative knowing” of free market liberalism, and may be traceable to a lineage of essayists from Charles Lamb to Walter Pater (2).

5. Sylvia Wynter, “Rethinking Aesthetics: Notes toward a Deciphering Practice,” in Mbye B. Cham, ed., Ex-iles: Essays on Caribbean Cinema (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1992), 237–79.

6. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, eds., Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (London: Macmillan, 1988), 275.

. E. A. W. St. George, Browning and Conversation (London: Macmillan, 1993), 30.

8. For a study of conversational culture in relation to periodical culture from the 1760s to the 1830s, see Jon Mee, Conversable Worlds: Literature, Contention, and Community, 1762–1830 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

9. Rosetta Young, “Big Talk: The Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Novel and the Rise of the Upper Middle Class,” PhD diss., University of California Berkeley, 2019. Young’s argument includes a fascinating revision, through the tracing of this fantastical economic quality to dexterous speech, of traditional views of the realist novel and its separation from late nineteenth-century romance.

10. Roger Boswell, The Art of Conversation (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1867), 23.

11. J. P. Mahaffy, The Principles of the Art of Conversation (New York: Macmillan, 1887), 2.

12. Andrea Kaston Tange, Architectural Identities: Domesticity, Literature and the Victorian Middle Classes (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), has brought emphasis to domestic architectures of the Victorian home as metonymic resources for self-making; I add here that we might view these spaces as further emplaced through the activity of (proper) conversation as forms of speech only possessable by, and transferable to, some bodies.

13. Charles Lunn’s preface to the second edition of The Philosophy of Voice (London: Balliere, Tindall & Cox, 1875), an elocution manual that found a crossover audience in a more popular realm, offers some self-conscious remarks about the technicality of the physiological descriptions of voice production.

14. Stanley M. Bligh, The Ability to Converse (London: Henry Frowde/Oxford University Press, 1912), v.

15. Mahaffy, Principles, 4–5.

16. [Jane Francesca Wilde], Social Studies (London: Ward & Downey, 1893), 58.

17. How to Shine in Society; Or, The Art of Conversation (Glasgow: George Watson, 1860), 22.

18. I am thinking in particular of Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2012) and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (New York: Penguin, 2015).

19. Boswell, Art of Conversation, 30.

20. Mahaffy, Principles, 107.

21. Mahaffy, Principles, 30.

22. See Rey Chow, Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as Postcolonial Experience (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).

23. Aaron Worth’s Imperial Media: Colonial Networks and Information Technologies in the British Literary Imagination, 1857–1918 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2014), is a notable exception. As Worth remarks in the introduction to his work, “‘the imperial network’ may have joined ‘the imperial archive’ as a convenient critical commonplace, but recent studies of nineteenth-century information technologies have, by and large, kept the colonial world at the margins” (6). For a broad-ranging history of the role of Western technology in Western imperialism, see Daniel Headrick, Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).

24. Mahaffy, Principles, 1.

25. See Rei Terada, “Hegel’s Racism for Radicals,” Radical Philosophy 205 (Autumn 2019): 11–22. Terada further develops the ideas in this essay in her book, Metaracial: Hegel, Antiblackness, and Political Identity (University of Chicago Press, 2023).

26. See especially Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism,” Critical Inquiry 12, no. 1 (1985): 243–61; Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989); and Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979); and essays in Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994).

27. In Conversation: Why Don’t We Do More Good By It? (1886), George Seaton Bowes criticizes this general tendency in conversation manuals to focus on classifying its negative forms, indicating that the practice may have been somewhat controversial. See Henry Hitchings, Sorry! The English and Their Manners (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013), 247.

28. “The Art of Chatter,” The Speaker, 2 December 1899, 243.