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Title: Constructions of identity in nineteenth-century Scottish and American fiction : ideology and discourse
Author: Hughes, Keith John
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis examines the ways in which various nineteenth-century literary texts articulate the ideological and linguistic production of identity. I argue that the representation of individual and/or collective identity is problematized, and the determinant role of language accorded due weight, in these texts. A contested relationship with imperialist ideology and English 'centrality' in the nineteenth-century is a common factor for both Scottish and American culture: this thesis interrogates the paradigms of 'core-periphery' and 'provincialism' as applied to Scottish and American literature. Chapter One considers a number of travel narratives for production of subjectivity and authority - including Washington Irving's Tour in Scotland, Samuel Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands, and Frances Trollope's Domestic Manners of the Americans. Some of Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories and essays are then read for their ironic constructions of American identity. Chapter Two considers Herman Melville's Moby-Dick and Billy Budd, locating a critique of imperialist-capitalist practices as they impact on the production of identity. Chapter Three recontextualizes the Scottish 'Kailyard' as other than melodramatic. Precursors of Kailyard are considered - Adam Blair and Mansie Wauch - alongside William Alexander's Doric narrative Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk and a classic Kailyard text, J.M. Barrie's Auld Licht Idylls. Through its formulation of a 'British' Scottish identity, Kailyard embodies as text specific social and ideological contradictions; Barrie's Farewell Miss Julie Logan is seen to self-reflexively deconstruct the genre. Chapter Four considers Edgar Allan Poe's critique of America's literary 'provincialism', and his call for a specifically American literature as a marker of national identity. Using de Tocqueville's Democracy in America as historiographic counterpoint, Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast are seen to describe and inscribe a growing American hegemony; however, unlike most critics, I read Pym as destabilizing racist ideologies, not buttressing them. Frederick Douglass's 'The Heroic Slave,' furthers the connections between racism, language and power.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available