Aliens within: Immigrants, the feminine, and American national narrative
AuthorBjornsson, Nina Gudrun
AdvisorDryden, Edgar A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study interrogates the figuring of the woman, and/or the feminized immigrant, in texts produced within the United States, in times of national dissonance, where the immigrant serves as the rupture in the text assuaging a contemporary cultural anxiety. I begin with the assumption that while cultural artifacts contribute to the construction of an "American" national narrative, one which I argue has traditionally sought to establish an originary "folk," and which sees capitalist expansion as necessary to that ongoing narrative, these texts point to the instability of this assumption. In examining two novels, Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills (1861) and Willa Cather's My Antonia (1918) I argue that, as the novel form historically mimics the structure of the nation, these novels are sources for investigating the use of the woman/feminized immigrant as an intervening point in a divisive socio-political issues unique to the United States. Life in the Iron Mills uses the immigrant iron worker, to subtly argue against Abolition. My Antonia presents a personal solution to the divisive debate surrounding Eastern European immigration, suggesting that the Bohemian woman immigrant serves as keeper of a museum enclave, preserving an originary America in the face of industrialization. As film has become the most globally, widely consumed text, I examine a Science Fiction film, Species, and a Western (a quintessentially American genre) each juxtaposed with a contemporary response to immigration; Species addresses the hysteria surrounding increased Latino/a influx, resulting in the passage of Proposition 187 in California; Unforgiven uses seemingly marginalized immigrant figures to present a white, male, capitalist disseminator of "story," as the new American cowboy.
Degree ProgramGraduate College