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Title: Were it a new-made world : Hawthorne, Melville and the un-masking of America
Author: Broek, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 2696 6698
Awarding Body: The University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis explores issues of literary criticism, aesthetics and nationalism, arguing that Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville were among the first major American fiction writers to challenge the myth of American Exceptionalism, not in terms of their overt criticism of American values or myths, but as the result of an aesthetic operation that places competing and contradictory expressions against each other. The resulting clash of perceptions and the subsequent revelation of a new, unique mode of understanding constitutes a direct challenge to static, context-free mythologizing, i. e. a direct challenge to national exceptionalism. Section I of the thesis places this argument within the context of contemporary literary criticism, including an argument for the relative importance of aesthetic analysis, though cognizant of the pitfalls of such an approach. I propose a mode of considering aesthetics that grows out of an understanding of the "embodied" nature of language, the fundamental importance of metaphor in shaping perception, and the manner in which literary artists, such as Hawthorne and Melville, place perceptions against each other in such a way as to evoke new metaphors or ways of knowing. Sections 2 and 3 utilize these arguments in the process of analyzing all of the major novels of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, respectively, though of particular concern are Hawthorne's novel The Blithedale Romance and Melville's Moby-Dick. Section 4 forms an extended conclusion and extrapolates from these analyses to suggest an alternative mode of evaluating aesthetic "value, " specifically here in the sense of challenging the authority of any single, unambiguous narrative.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available