Unsettled Spaces, Unsettled Stories: Travel And Historical Narrative In The United States, 1799-1859
Unsettled Spaces, Unsettled Stories examines the narrative forms that emerge from travel and settlement during the early nineteenth century. Drawing on work in postcolonial settlement studies, the dissertation explores texts in which travel over fictional topographies (that sometimes reference actual geographies) is repeatedly met with physical ruptures. Spaces like The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym's chasms, Edgar Huntly's cave, The Confidence-Man's Mississippi River, and the pit beneath Capitola's bedroom in E.D.E.N. Southworth's The Hidden Hand simultaneously enact settler colonialism's work of disciplining space and historical narrative, and unsettle any such attempts. Through such images, these texts confront the alwaysfraught process of crafting settler spaces and settler histories alike. Positing a -settler gothic[DOUBLE VERTICAL LINE] aesthetic that is concerned with the process of telling histories and of demarcating space and not only with how past histories haunt the present, Unsettled Spaces, Unsettled Stories positions fictional texts about travel, and texts that travel narratively, alongside historical travel narratives, from Columbus to Lewis and Clark. Settlement's unstable processes of geographic enclosure and historical narration, this project argues, begins with travel narratives that are themselves always unstable and contingent. And if the settler nation's unsettled process of plotting geographical space and plotting historical narrative finds a generic outlet in a gothic aesthetic that is in dialogue with the travel narrative, it also finds a formal outlet in a fragmented, recursive -structure of serialization.[DOUBLE VERTICAL LINE] Drawing on the concept of seriality as a publishing form, as well as on concepts of rupture, movement, and repetition inherent to the idea of the -series,[DOUBLE VERTICAL LINE] this dissertation shows that texts characterized by serial structures enact how repetitive travel through geographical and narrative landscapes nevertheless fails to cohere. The texts read in this project harness formal, narrative instability to trouble the emplotment of territory as it supports emplotment of the past, indicating that the narrative of providential progress often said to have structured historiographical thought in the early nineteenth century was less pervasive than it has been made to seem.
Samuels, Shirley R
Brady, Mary P.; Cheyfitz, Eric T.
English Language & Literature
Ph.D. of English Language & Literature
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis