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Title: Verticality in American literature and culture 1900 to the present day
Author: Mackay, Ruth Elizabeth Fairgrieve
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 8901
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines the role of verticality in American narratives from 1900 to the present day, proposing that in this period vertical imagery is both conspicuous and under-interrogated. It proceeds from the assertion that American texts after 1900 do not conform to a traditional model in which 'up' is fixedly attached to positive ideas and, conversely, 'down' is made inextricable from negative concepts. This thesis considers the ways in which images of flying, falling, vertical collapse, and the inversion of what is up and down participate in discourses surrounding what might be termed the concretely vertical - in particular, the skyscraper, the oil derrick, and aviation. It argues that the energies previously attached to westward expansion were siphoned into vertical space after the closure of the frontier. Further, it contends that while the occurrence of imagery has reached new prominence after the distressing verticality of 11 September 200 I, post-9fll texts in fact illuminate the significance of representations of verticality across the twentieth century. This thesis considers a range of media, focussing on Winsor McCay's graphic work and animated films (1900-1917), Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! (1927), Alien Ginsberg's poetry and prose (1947-97), Toni Morrison's Sula (1973), Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead (1991), and the documentary film Man on Wire (2008). It examines a variety of discourses and places them in conversation with one another while maintaining the specificity of their formal and thematic procedures. It poses a model of cultural retroactivity to illuminate the way in which verticality recurs in the period after 1900 as an intertextual image initiating dialogue between apparently disparate moments that are nonetheless united by an underlying sense of disorientation in the face of cultural, technological, or epistemological change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available