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Title: The idea of America in the works of Robert Southey, Joel Barlow and Walt Whitman
Author: Nigm, Soad Mohammad Ali Mostafa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 2348
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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The aim of this thesis is to investigate the impact of contemporary political upheavals on the formation of the idea of America in the writings of Robert Southey (1774-1843), Joel Barlow (1754-1812) and Wait Whitman (1819-1892). Focusing on three epic poems, the thesis considers Southey, Barlow and Whitman as epic writers during a period of great national and international turmoil, and analyses the relationship between the articulation of national identity and the conflicted politics of the day. I will argue that each of these writers, affected by contemporary events and dangers that threatened the unity and stability of the nation, attempted, through his work, to achieve national unity or create national identity. These attempts, I will argue, led to the formation of an idea of America that would serve the national identity of early nineteenth-century Britain in Southey's Madoc (1805), post-Revolutionary America in Barlow's Columbiad (1807) and mid-nineteenth-century America in Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855). The thesis examines how the epic provided the three writers with the means to reflect and comment on the political events which posed a threat to nationalism in their times. Chapter One explores Southey's endeavours in Madoc to inspire ambition and unify the nation in the face of a strong enemy. Chapter Two explores how far Barlow succeeds, in The Columbiad, in creating an American identity for the early Republic that would make her a model to be imitated by the whole world. Chapter Three examines Whitman' s new form which granted America literary independence. Through focussing on Whitman's treatment of the Mexicans, Native Americans and black people, in his prose and verse, the chapter argues that Whitman's attempt to create a new democratic identity for America was not altogether successful. The thesis argues that the idea of America is transformed from a colony in the first chapter, moving through half-independence in the second chapter, and towards complete independence and colonization in the third chapter. This will expose how the identities established by the three poets, through their depiction of America, become imperialist identities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available