Kucich, John

Kucich, John

Imperial Masochism: British Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class

  • Published Date: Princeton University Press, 2006

John Kucich

altBritish imperialism's favorite literary narrative might seem to be conquest. But real British conquests also generated a surprising cultural obsession with suffering, sacrifice, defeat, and melancholia. "There was," writes Professor John Kucich, "seemingly a different crucifixion scene marking the historical gateway to each colonial theater." In Imperial Masochism, Professor Kucich reveals the central role masochistic forms of voluntary suffering played in late-nineteenth-century British thinking about imperial politics and class identity. Placing the colonial writers Robert Louis Stevenson, Olive Schreiner, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad in their cultural context, Professor Kucich shows how the ideological and psychological dynamics of empire, particularly its reorganization of class identities at the colonial periphery, depended on figurations of masochism.

Drawing on recent psychoanalytic theory to define masochism in terms of narcissistic fantasies of omnipotence rather than sexual perversion, the book illuminates how masochism mediates political thought of many different kinds, not simply those that represent the social order as an opposition of mastery and submission, or an eroticized drama of power differentials. Masochism was a powerful psychosocial language that enabled colonial writers to articulate judgments about imperialism and class.

The first full-length study of masochism in British colonial fiction, Imperial Masochism puts forth new readings of this literature and shows the continued relevance of psychoanalysis to historicist studies of literature and culture.

Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century

  • Published Date: University of Minnesota Press, 2000
John Kucich (Co-Editor with Dianne F. Sadoff)

Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century A foundational look at contemporary uses of the Victorian and the presence of the past in postmodern culture.  Celebrated films by Francis Ford Coppola, Jane Campion, and Ang Lee; best-selling novels by A. S. Byatt and William Gibson; revivals of Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll's Alice, and nostalgic photography; computer graphics and cyberpunk performances: contemporary culture, high and low, has fallen in love with the nineteenth century. Major critical thinkers have also found in the period the origins of contemporary consumerism, sexual science, gay culture, and feminism. And postmodern theory, which once drove a wedge between contemporary interpretation and its historical objects, has lately displayed a new self-consciousness about its own appropriations of the past. This diverse collection of essays begins a long-overdue discussion of how postmodernism understands the Victorian as its historical predecessor.

The Power of Lies, Transgression in Victorian Fiction

  • Published Date: Cornell University Press, 1994

John Kucich

altAlthough moral earnestness has long been considered characteristic of the Victorians, Professor Kucich maintains that English fiction in the nineteenth century was as interested in lies as in honesty. In this important book, Kucich explores the fascination with lying in novels by Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ellen Wood, Thomas Hardy, and Sarah Grand.