Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor's Name

Bruce Harvey

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committe Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jason Pearl

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Nathaniel Cadle

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Keywords

America, Antebellum, Literature, Poe, Melville, Space, Nautical, Gothic, Antarctica, Atlantic, Geography, Phenomenology

Date of Defense

11-12-2015

Abstract

My project examines the phenomenon of the hazy spaces on the periphery of the antebellum imagination that, while existing geographically at the very fringes of daily American life, are nonetheless active in the conceptualization, production, and representation of an idiosyncratic American sense of space: an anxiety of spatial fragmentation, formlessness, and modulation. In particular I am interested in Poe's “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym” and Melville's “Benito Cereno,” both of which deal with American transoceanic travel to the proximity of Antarctica and its surrounding seas. These gothicized nautical fictions demonstrate an important dialectic playing out in these extreme spaces: the oscillating experience of external and closed space. What becomes detectable in antebellum literature in which spaces of enclosure interrupt expansiveness are far-reaching, deeply-rooted anxieties of an ever-transforming American space at risk of fragmenting and necessitating reorientation via the sort of imaginary travel texts being examined.

Identifier

FIDC000178

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