Nick Enright

Robinson’s Garden. Literature and the Colonisation of Lands

Nick Enright

Doctoral Candidate

Address Habelschwerdter Allee 45
Room JK 33/106
14195 Berlin
Email n.enright@fu-berlin.de

Nicholas Enright, born 1985 in Australia, studied Germanic Studies, French Studies, English Literature and Government in Sydney, Aix-en-Provence und Berlin. He completed his Master's in Germanic Studies in Berlin in 2013. His research interests include utopian literature, the Robinsonade, knowledge history, andthropology and postcolonial studies. 

Seeding, planting, transplanting and re-organising – since the beginning of recorded human history such practices were always inextricably linked to the idea of a righteous inhabitancy and occupation of the land. In the eighteenth century, with its overriding spirit of progress and universal prosperity, these and other technologies of horticultural and agricultural ‘improvement’ formed part of a new notion of empire not bent on conquest or the enslavement of conquered peoples, but instead intent on cultivating the lands to be colonised for ‘mutual benefit’. As the thesis shall argue, the re-invention of the concept of empire in the eighteenth century would scarcely have been possible without the vast array of texts and images that accompanied the real and concrete attempts to transform the landscapes which Europeans encountered, order them according to rational principles and thus adapt these landscapes to European needs and designs. Traversing a vast terrain of fictional literary texts ranging from Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe to Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloïse, from landscape paintings to travelogues (eg. Georg Forster) and beyond, I intend to uncover the discursive and aesthetic practices that, often contrary to their own anti-imperial and abolitionist sentiment, served to legitimise and even strengthen European claims to appropriate non-European territories.


- ‘Eine “Geschichte des Menschen im Kleinen.” Johann Karl Wezels Neubearbeitung des Robinson Krusoe (1779/80) und die Vierstufentheorie Adam Smiths’ [A "History of Mankind in Miniature": Johann Karl Wezel's Adaptation of Robinson Crusoe (1779/80) and Adam Smith's Four Stages Theory'], Britisch-deutscher Literaturtransfer, 1756-1832, ed. Lore Knapp and Eike Kronshage (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016), 93-112.

Conference activity

- '"Chaste Beauty." Constructions of 'Race' in Georg Forster's Essay Der Brotbaum (The Breadtree, 1784).' Draft chapter presented at the 11th Conference for Literature and Science History, Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte (Berlin), 15.07.2016.

- 'George Anson's Landscapes. The English Garden and Imperial Power.' German Graduate Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, Sedgwick Site (Department for Germanic Studies), 13.06.2016.  

- "'Desert Island' Paradise and the Invisible Hand of Civilisation: Transplantation and/as Empire in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel Julie, ou La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761)." Workshop 'Pazifik-Literatur um 1800 / um 2000, Universität Bern, Haus der Universität, 12.03.2016. 

- 'Adam Smith in Johann Karl Wezels Bearbeitung des Robinson Crusoe (1779/80)' [Adam Smith in Johann Karl Wezel's Adaptation of Robinson Crusoe (1779/80)]. Schlegel-Studientage, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Grimm-Zentrum, 11.10.2014.