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Title: America and the perverse Shakespearean imagination
Author: Hamilton, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 2575
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2015
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I argue that each of the five American authors in my study of the antebellum era in American literature had dissident responses to Shakespeare’s perverse sexual energies. These reader responses took the following forms, with significant consequences for American history: 1.Conversion As Perversion. This strategy, demonstrated by Emerson and Whitman, employs the structure of perversion by affirming, in Emerson, the healthy imagination, in Whitman, healthy sexuality. In doing so, it commits itself to a confident rhetoric of health that evades and so magnifies anxiety about perverse sexual disease. It attempts to “convert” the reader to its view of the healthy imagination as a way to ward off the perversion it sees everywhere. 2.Perversion As Conversion. This strategy, employed by Hawthorne and Melville, initiates a descent into the terrors of the perverse imagination as a means of exorcising it and reconciling the individual to the consolations of the hearth and home of middle-class American society. 3.Perversion As Subversion. This is the strategy employed by Dickinson in her tense, dramatic lyrics. It employs Augustinian non-being in order to subvert progressive American projections of meaning into the future through a form that I call “perverse reading.” It eschews all identities, and remains menacing, dangerous, and, in my view, profoundly ethical.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature ; PS American literature