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Raciological thought in Victorian culture : a study in imperial dissemination O'Leary, Daniel Ralph J.


My thesis revives the term raciology to describe collectively the literature which emanated out of philological ethnology, that is, out of the studies of man inspired by the rapid advances in linguistic science in the early nineteeenth century. Raciological Thought in Victorian Culture is divided into two parts: it examines the development and dissemination of nineteenth-century raciological knowledge in the works of celebrated philologists and anthropologists; and then investigates typical features of raciological discourse in Victorian and Victorian Canadian culture. It views this regional British literature as a field for the political and educational deployment of British raciological conceptions, and comments on some of the implications of the circulation of raciological doctrine. My argument begins with discussion of the often overlooked celebrity and authority of philologists in Victorian culture, tracing the derivation from philology of raciological typologies which established the raciological associations of terms like "Britons," "Anglo-Saxons," and "Teutons" during the early and middle-Victorian periods. An important aspect of the thesis is a re-evaluation of the influence of Friedrich Max Muller, the most influential comparative philologist and mythologist in the Victorian world. I argue that his use of etymological study for archaeological data greatly contributed to the rapid dissemination of raciological thought among the educated and educating classes. The first part of the thesis concludes with discussion of issues which animated raciological discourse. The second part follows the dissemination of Victorian raciological thought to Canada, and illustrates its effects in an imperial context. It demonstrates the use of raciology in establishing Canada's legitimacy as a British nation, and documents the place of raciology in establishing the authenticity of Canadian continuity with a British culture running into deep antiquity. After discussing neglected raciological aspects of several important Victorian Canadian source works, it goes on to outline the importance of raciological mythology to the preservation of the Dominion from American annexation and Fenian incursion. My epilogue briefly documents the decline of raciological thought in Britain after the 1890s. By investigating numerous neglected Victorian sources, Raciological Thought in Victorian Culture establishes raciology as an important element in Victorian political-and, in particular, nationalist-thinking.

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