"A wasteland fortunes": History, destiny, and cultural frontiers in American literature
AuthorGwinner, Donovan R.
AdvisorEvers, Lawrence J.
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.
AbstractThroughout the nineteenth century, American authors produced literature that depicted the processes and effects of the conquest of North America, particularly the formation of the United States of America. Twentieth-century American writers have continued creating literature that portrays the history of the continent following the advent of Europeans in the "New World." This dissertation analyzes the conventions of historically oriented American literature. Interpretations of John Gast's painting Manifest Destiny and of selected works by James Fenimore Cooper, Timothy Flint, James Kirke Paulding, and William Gilmore Simms yield an exposition of the relevant narrative conventions. Subsequent readings of works by Nash Candelaria, Willa Cather, Cormac McCarthy, Simon Ortiz, Leslie Marmon Silko, and William T. Vollmann provide a basis for understanding how twentieth-century American authors adhere to and depart from conventionality. The central concern with literary conventions in this dissertation is the representation of historical agency. The nineteenth-century expansionist ideology "manifest destiny" serves as a conceptual context in which to discuss authors' attempts to depict the processes and effects of the conquest of North America. Specifically, this study examines the ways in which all of the authors under consideration attempt to show that the conquest of America was historically contingent and/or inevitable. A significant component of interpreting the portraits of history is a thorough consideration of how these writers represent American ethnicities and cross-cultural relations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College