Title

A Creole Contagion: Narratives of Slavery and Tainted Wealth in "Millenium Hall"

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Department

English

Abstract

This article begins by suggesting that Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall (1762), a utopian vision of women’s independence, invites not only feminist but also postcolonial interpretations. The presence of colonial wealth, though seemingly incidental in a work that focuses on charitable women, betrays an underlying anxiety about slave labor. Significantly, both the narrator and the women of Millenium Hall possess fortunes acquired in the New World. By tracing how such fortunes compromise the health of the men who earned them, this article argues that the novel offers evidence of Scott’s apprehension that colonial wealth may be deeply tainted and may even become a source of moral contagion and physical deterioration whose effects can be mitigated only by a process of inheritance and transmission. After analyzing the role of the creole narrator, the article suggests that because the novel links colonial wealth to moral contagion, the women’s putative moral superiority is cast in doubt.

Publication Title

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

Volume

30

Issue

1

First Page

57

Last Page

70

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