‘Have you anything to declare?’: Modernism, the customs officer, and contraband psychology

Emily Anna Maria RIDGE

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

Luggage has long been a source of intrigue as a point of access to a character in transit and was frequently foregrounded as such by modemist writers. Yet intrigue can take on an alarmist edge in a climate of socio-political insecurity. This paper will document an evolving suspicion of portable otherness during the interwar period as this is conveyed through interrogative appraisals of portable property. This development coincides with the sudden pervasiveness of the literary figure of the customs official from the late 1920s, cropping up in works by writers as divergent in styles as Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, and George Orwell, among others. This is a figure frequently aligned with the psychoanalyst, poised in a position of case-judgment and with an eye for the paper shows, this question of self-declaration becomes a critical one in conceptions and re-conceptions of character from modernism to late modernism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Citation

Ridge, E. (2015, November). ‘Have you anything to declare?’: Modernism, the customs officer, and contraband psychology. Paper presented at the CUHK English Department Research Seminar Series, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.

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