English professor publishes an article on Henry James

Oct 15, 2010 | General News

Dr. Kim Vanderlaan, an assistant professor of English at Louisiana Tech University, had her article, “Empire and Allegory in Henry James’s ‘The Europeans,’” published by the prestigious Cambridge Journals in England.
James, who was born in 1843 in New York City, is author of several novels, including “The American” and “Roderick Hudson.”
“The idea came to me for this article as I was re-reading the novel, “The Europeans,” to determine if I would include it on the reading list for an upcoming course,” Vanderlaan said. “I had just — in an unrelated venue — read something on colonialism, and so as I was reading the novel, I saw what I came to understand as many subtle innuendos on the author’s part about the insidious and corrupting effects of colonialism in the 19th century.”
Vanderlaan said as far as she knew at that point, “The Europeans” had not been seen as one of James’s most important works.
“My main findings were as follows: Henry James may have been what we call a ‘Democrat’ in today’s terminology,” she said. “I am partially joking here, but what did become clear to me through studying thousands of letters James wrote and newspapers articles he read was that he was very much against imperialist endeavors. Politically and personally, his views were that monetary gain can never justify the dehumanization of others. I also discovered anew how effective allegory can be as a vehicle for serious political criticism.”
Vanderlaan’s article is out this month in “Journal of American Studies.” Vanderlaan makes use of historical research, biographical data drawn from sources such as James’s statements in his own letters to friends, in conjunction with a close reading of the text itself, to support her research.