Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe: De-essentialising Euro-Mediterranean History

Enza Maria Ester Gendusa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Informed by an interpretative framework where the theoretical paradigms of British Cultural studies and Black feminism inextricably interweave, the paper aims at illustrating a complex identity model of the Black British woman as delineated in Anglo-Nigerian writer Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe (2001).Published at the turn of the 21st century, Evaristo’s second novel-in-verse revolves around the life-experience of a young black woman born of Sudanese parents in Roman London, Zuleika, who ends up having an intense relationship with the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. In its highly orchestrated narrative fabric where prose and poetry conflate, this unconventional historical novel, in focusing on Black gendered identities, simultaneously engages with contemporary issues of racialization and national belonging, while, at the same time, transplanting them in Roman Britannia. By virtue of such temporal transposition, The Emperor’s Babe also inevitably allows for an imaginative reshaping of British national history in the context of a wider revision of the European classical past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd EMUNI Research Souk ‘Innovation and Employability – The Universities Challenge’
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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