Student Research Projects

The Heartbeat of Darkness: British Colonists, Dehumanization, Emasculation, and Objectification of Their Colonial Subjects through the Lens of Conrad’s Novel

Student Brianne Cork, ‘14
Department History
Course HIST 353: History of Women in Europe since 1700


The grey area between imperialism and colonization during the early twentieth century, specifically 1899-1911, was a time of exploration, discovery, and supposed civil inclusion of the colonial subjects. The narratives that illustrated the events of these twelve-year time span were filled with racism, hatred, misunderstanding, and ethnocentricity. These were the underpinnings from which the mind frame of the western world was sewn. For British men who experienced the New World first hand, the sights, sounds, and smells were completely novel. The novelty of the new environment enticed these men and, this evolved into a dangerous obsession with the exotic. Joseph Conrad writes, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty bit thing when you look into it too much.”