Katherine Mansfield and Empire

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


As modernity, and by implication modernism, is increasingly interpreted as a global and transnational phenomenon, functioning through multiple interactions across social and geographical locations, and as empire is likewise often perceived as globally constituted, part of a world system, Mansfield’s dual affiliations to her New Zealand society of origin and the European world where she pursued her art have come under new scrutiny. This chapter draws on these expanded critical frameworks, seeing Mansfield as a colonial-metropolitan writer, who masked her colonial ‘otherness’ as British to enable an anonymous multi-positionality. It argues that her satire of German imperial values in stories published in In a German Pension (1911) belies an interior subjective space in which she cultivated in her art a colonial counter-imaginary focused on issues of gender and women’s place. Her chiastic crossover between imperial and colonial sensibilities, and enfolding and overlapping of their different geographies and temporalities, informs a reading of two early New Zealand ‘outback’ stories of savagery, “The Woman at the Store“ (1912) and “Millie“ (1913). Gaps and silences in these narratives indicate untouched areas of the colonial experience she would plunder in later stories and anticipate the postcolonial critiques of subsequent writers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBloomsbury Companion to Katherine Mansfield
EditorsTodd Martin
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781350111462
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Janet M. Wilson is Professor of English and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Northampton. She recently co-edited with Aimee Gasston and Gerri Kimber the collection, Katherine Mansfield: New Directions (2020), and has just published the edition, The General and the Nightingale: Dan Davin’s War Stories (2020). She is vice-chair of the Katherine Mansfield Society, co-editor of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing and series editor of Ibidem-Verlag’s Studies in World Literature.


  • Empire
  • colonial-metroplitan
  • 'otherness'
  • Katherine Mansfield
  • 'Millie'
  • 'The Woman at the Store'
  • In a German Pension
  • BadWorishofen


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