Ph.D., Yale University (1996)
A specialist in modern British history, Dr. Barczewski has been at Clemson since 1996. Her new book, Heroic Failure and the British will be published by Yale University Press in the Spring of 2016. The British love of failed heroes – ranging from the Charge of the Light Brigade to Scott of the Antarctic to more recent examples such as “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards” is often linked to postwar national decline. But in reality, it was a product of the era in which Britannia ruled the waves and a means for mitigating the uncomfortable realities of imperial power. The Empire could be imagined as a zone in which cultural enlightenment and Christianity were promoted, but this idealized vision was challenged by thorny issues such as slavery, which was not abolished until 1834, as well as by the massive military force that was required to maintain the security of existing colonies and to conquer new territory, which made it difficult to see the Empire as based on consent rather than coercion. This tension between ideal and reality required cultural conceptions of empire that de-emphasized its coercive and violent aspects. Such conceptions relied heavily on factual and fictional stories that depicted the Empire in a positive light. Those stories frequently featured failures as their heroes because they helped the British to see themselves as something other than conquerors and oppressors. By presenting alternative visions of empire, failed heroes maintained the pretence that the Empire was about things besides power, force and domination.
Dr. Barczewski's previous publications include Country Houses and the British Empire, 1700-1940 (Manchester University Press, 2014); Antarctic Destinies: Scott, Shackleton and the Changing Face of Heroism (Bloomsbury, 2007); Titanic: A Night Remembered (Palgrave Macmillan/ Hambledon and London, 2004) and Myth and National Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood (Oxford University Press, 2000), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She is also the co-author and editor of the textbook Britain since 1688: A Nation in the World (Routledge, 2014). Dr. Barczewski has been awarded the Gentry Award, Clemson's highest honor for teaching in the humanities, as well as a Faculty Award of Distinction for student mentoring from the Clemson National Scholars Program.
Dr. Barczewski's current research project concerns the links between union and empire in British history, and seeks to re-assess the United Kingdom as a pragmatic arrangement rather than a political entity based on cultural affinities.
Country Houses and the British Empire, 1700-1930 (Manchester University Press, Studies in Imperialism Series, 2014)
Britain since 1688: A Nation in the World (Routledge, 2014)
Antarctic Destinies: Scott, Shackleton and the Changing Face of Heroism. Continuum, 2009.
Titanic: A Night Remembered. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Myth and National Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood. Oxford, 2000.
Heroic Failure and the British (Yale University Press, 2016)