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South African Journal of Cultural History

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Venturing to “launch a woman’s opinion”: a feminist reading of selected letters of Lady Anne Barnard Jessica Murray

J Murray

Abstract


This article offers a feminist reading of the letters that Lady Anne Barnard wrote to Sir Henry Dundas during her stay at the Cape Colony between 1797 and 1802. As a female citizen of a colonising nation residing in a foreign country, the particularities of her subject position offer rich analytical possibilities. These possibilities, together with the abundance of material that she left behind, make it rather surprising that more scholars have not paid closer attention to her texts. By offering a close reading of selected extracts from the letters through the theoretical lens of feminist literary criticism, this article seeks to fill some of the lacunae in the critical engagement with Lady Anne’s texts. The article will demonstrate the nuanced negotiations that were
performed by a woman who enjoyed the power of belonging to a colonising nation, while simultaneously suffering the disempowerment of belonging to a subordinate gender.

Keywords: Cape Colony; feminist literary criticism; gender; Lady Anne Barnard; power; subject position




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