Rarefied Imperialism: Discursive Representations of the Relationship between Exterior and Interior in Western Imperial Frontier Exploration and Everest Mountaineering Cultures

Christopher Sutch

Major Professor: Roger Lancaster

Committee Members: Dina Copelman, Amal Amireh

Johnson Center, 240A (Paul Robeson Room)
April 29, 2010, 09:00 AM to 10:00 AM


This dissertation examines the discursive representations of the relationship between exterior apparent phenomena and interior essential phenomena in the writings of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British imperial explorers, and in British and American mountaineers attempting to climb Mount Everest.  In case studies including Richard Francis Burton, T. E. Lawrence, John Noel, Francis Younghusband, George Mallory, and Woodrow Wilson Sayre, the dissertation charts a shift in the conceptual imagining of that relationship from the age of high imperialism through the decline of the British Empire and the rise of the Cold War.  This shift ran from an imagining of a solid essence of personal identity to a concern with the uncertainty of what might lie beneath the benign surface appearances of landscapes.

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