Reflections on a British ‘Re-civilising’ Mission: Sarah (Bowdich) Lee's Playing at Settlers, or the Faggot House

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Abstract

Imperial and colonial juvenile literature is assumed to be ?an excellent reflector of the dominant ideas of an age? (Mackenzie). This article by contrast argues for a less mimetic view through close rereading of Mrs R. Lee's Playing at Settlers, or the Faggot House (1855), particularly its unfinished critiques of high colonialism from within. The actions of its enlightened British juvenile protagonists to educate their peers, and adult interlocutors, makes this text ?settler? and ?Robinsonade? fiction with a difference, as much for Britons at home as for those overseas. The tensions, cultural specificities and multi-colonial dimensions of the text explored in this article then suggest avenues for further research on juvenile works of the period, whether British or other European. Recovery of other similar, yet forgotten, works for children not only invites more informed reappraisal of them, but also of over-zealous postcolonial readings of the ?civilising mission? that have denied vociferous counter-colonial voices in juvenile, next-generational form.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Research in Children's Literature
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012

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