Genki Chiu (Chiu Pui Sang)
I am currently writing on the novels of Charlotte Brontë and Henry James, with an interest in the strategies by which they render the nuanced character constellations that both symptomize and challenge the dominant configurations of nineteenth-century British identities. In particular, I intend to explore the relational dynamic between the governess, the man of the world and the child in terms of a microcosmic economy of exchange where ostensibly impermeable social categories react with one another to expand and even synergize peripheral subjectivities. The confessionary rhetoric and the making of self-knowledge, the power and purview of sympathetic engagement, and the queering of the cosmopolitan register of an evolving genteel masculinity are some of the crucial issues my project sets out to interrogate. My research has also brought me to situate the nineteenth-century ideation of childhood within a psychological framework adjunct to yet not wholly dependent on the thematic formations from which it apparently derives its narrative currency. I wish to read in the fictionalized juvenile consciousness a socialized individuality that is neither quixotically symbolic nor deceptively ambivalent, but sufficiently aware of and rationally responsive to the suspicions and assumptions surrounding its development. The perpetual obsession with relational morality that is at the core of so many Victorian representations of the three archetypal figures under study might be better understood if, instead of fixating on externalized, isolated instances of frictional contact, the lens of criticism first turns to the complex interactions of distinctive mental mechanisms which pluralize desires, mediate between sensibilities and stipulate the context of affinities.