Uncanny Capitalism: The Gothic, Power, and The Market Revolution in American Literature

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194283
Title:
Uncanny Capitalism: The Gothic, Power, and The Market Revolution in American Literature
Author:
Parker, Michael Lynn
Issue Date:
2009
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
In Uncanny Capitalism, I examine works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that incorporate literary elements typically associated with gothic fiction into their depictions of America's capitalist economy. In so doing, I trace a widespread tendency found throughout American literature to some of its earliest and most revealing manifestations, arguing that the gothic lent itself to such uses because eighteenth-century thinkers had long relied upon the fictional mode to represent the divergence between their own commercial societies and the feudal economies of the past. In the course of its development, capitalism occasionally displayed characteristics that linked it with the gothic practices it had supposedly left behind. When it did, my chosen writers used the gothic to represent the convergence between America's commercial economy and its putative other.Chapter one examines the dichotomy that J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur establishes between Europe and America in Letters from an American Farmer that is founded upon two opposing forms of power: an oppressive European one and another that is American and productive. This opposition collapses in the letter devoted to Charles Town where Europe's feudal institutions have made an uncanny reappearance on American soil. Chapter two reads the self-incriminating narrators of Edgar Allan Poe's tales of murder and confession as grotesque examples of the types of coercion upon which the nation's emerging market economy depended in the nineteenth-century. Chapter three examines Frederick Douglass' alternation between the formal techniques of the realist and gothic novels in his 1845 Narrative, and argues that Douglass uses the figure of the gothic monster to apprehend the way in which slavery violates the natural order by commodifying human beings and placing them on a par with the brute creation. I conclude the dissertation with an analysis of the uncanny episodes in The Blithedale Romance that Nathaniel Hawthorne uses to reveal the long reach of the commodity form and the futility of any efforts at escaping the deleterious effects of the market revolution via a Transcendentalist retreat into nature.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Economics; Gothic; Slave Narrative; Uncanny
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
English; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Hogle, Jerrold E.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleUncanny Capitalism: The Gothic, Power, and The Market Revolution in American Literatureen_US
dc.creatorParker, Michael Lynnen_US
dc.contributor.authorParker, Michael Lynnen_US
dc.date.issued2009en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn Uncanny Capitalism, I examine works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that incorporate literary elements typically associated with gothic fiction into their depictions of America's capitalist economy. In so doing, I trace a widespread tendency found throughout American literature to some of its earliest and most revealing manifestations, arguing that the gothic lent itself to such uses because eighteenth-century thinkers had long relied upon the fictional mode to represent the divergence between their own commercial societies and the feudal economies of the past. In the course of its development, capitalism occasionally displayed characteristics that linked it with the gothic practices it had supposedly left behind. When it did, my chosen writers used the gothic to represent the convergence between America's commercial economy and its putative other.Chapter one examines the dichotomy that J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur establishes between Europe and America in Letters from an American Farmer that is founded upon two opposing forms of power: an oppressive European one and another that is American and productive. This opposition collapses in the letter devoted to Charles Town where Europe's feudal institutions have made an uncanny reappearance on American soil. Chapter two reads the self-incriminating narrators of Edgar Allan Poe's tales of murder and confession as grotesque examples of the types of coercion upon which the nation's emerging market economy depended in the nineteenth-century. Chapter three examines Frederick Douglass' alternation between the formal techniques of the realist and gothic novels in his 1845 Narrative, and argues that Douglass uses the figure of the gothic monster to apprehend the way in which slavery violates the natural order by commodifying human beings and placing them on a par with the brute creation. I conclude the dissertation with an analysis of the uncanny episodes in The Blithedale Romance that Nathaniel Hawthorne uses to reveal the long reach of the commodity form and the futility of any efforts at escaping the deleterious effects of the market revolution via a Transcendentalist retreat into nature.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectEconomicsen_US
dc.subjectGothicen_US
dc.subjectSlave Narrativeen_US
dc.subjectUncannyen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairHogle, Jerrold E.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberDryden, Edgar A.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberScruggs, Charlesen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWhite, Susan M.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest10587en_US
dc.identifier.oclc752260926en_US
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