Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)
Romancing the empire: Race, ethnicity, and nationalism in the writings of Winnifred Eaton and Laura Goodman Salverson
Sui Sin Far (Edith Eaton); Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton); US literature; American Literature; print culture; periodicals; suffrage literature, literature of social movements; 20th century American poetry; 19th-century American literature; race, class and gender; Asian American literature; public humanities; public pedagogy; alt-ac careers
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Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
This dissertation, which studies Wharton’s authorship through the lens of her periodical publications and subsequent book revisions, contrary to earlier evaluations of her career, portrays her as a modern writer attuned to the changing literary marketplace and able to cater to diverse audiences. It argues that studying Wharton’s authorship—her “trajectory” (Bourdieu, Field 189)—through her engagement with various periodicals (from the higher-brow Scribner’s Magazine to the middlebrow Pictorial Review and Delineator) and within the context of the American literary field at the turn of the twentieth century offers a more nuanced view of her career as a “series of positions” in the literary arena characterized by the progressive adaptation of her authorship to the marketplace. Examining Wharton’s trajectory through her involvement with periodicals shows her as a writer who in her Scribner’s stage (1904-1913), was, to an extent, still affiliated with genteel values about art reflective of Scribner’s ideology. Then, in the 1920s and early 1930s, during her affiliation with Pictorial Review and Delineator, she became a more commercially successful and critically acclaimed professional who understood how to navigate the changing field. During the later years of the Depression when Wharton’s sales decreased and her work was often rejected by mass magazines, she became a writer out of sync with the demands of the field. In addition to examining Wharton’s changing positions, this dissertation also studies the development of her “disposition” (Bourdieu, “Habitus” 43) regarding artistic compromise—selling one’s art for money. I present a detailed discussion of the magazine versions of her artist stories published in Scribner’s, “The Descent of Man“ (1904), “The Potboiler” (1908), and “The Verdict” (1908); her Pictorial Review ghost/detective stories, “The Temperate Zone” (1924), “Miss Mary Pask” (1925), and “The Young Gentlemen” (1926); and the novels that she serialized in Delineator, namely, Hudson River Bracketed (1928-1930) and The Gods Arrive (1932). Wharton employed what I call the authorial strategy of plasticity in her postwar work, which allowed her to simultaneously cater to both the middlebrow readers of women’s magazines and her higher-brow book audience—using textual revisions, unreliable narration/perspectivism, paratext, and genre hybridity/duality/renovation.
“Emily Dickinson, Material Rhetoric, and the Ethos of Nineteenth-Century American Women’s Poetry” examines the ethos of women’s poetry as it was negotiated through the material rhetoric of mid-nineteenth-century American periodicals, and Emily Dickinson’s strategic alignment with that ethos to paradoxically distance herself from the literary market. As I argue, Dickinson negotiated an enduring marginality that would forestall her entry into public modes of poetic address while she lived, in order to preserve a poetic address that could foster interpersonal affectivity. Establishing the methodological framework for my study, the introduction demonstrates how material rhetoric contributes to the ethos of poetry by defining ethos as emerging from a poetry’s delivery and reception in material contexts of address. Chapter 1 maps the ethos of women’s poetry as it develops in the U.S. between 1830 and 1864, and especially the crucial ground that Civil War newspapers provided for the negotiation of a gendered authorial ethos for women’s poetry. Chapter 2 demonstrates how Dickinson’s poetry was implicated in such negotiations, as her poems were published in her daily newspaper, the Springfield Republican, under literary editor Fidelia Hayward Cooke during the early 1860s. Arguing that this implication transformed her poetic address and prompted decisive action on her part to limit further publication, I then investigate the ethos Dickinson herself negotiated with poetry she addressed to correspondents. Chapter 3 reads Dickinson’s negotiation of an amateur ethos with her correspondent Thomas Wentworth Higginson as a deliberate move to indefinitely defer her entry into the literary market. Chapter 4 maps Dickinson’s practice of sending poetry as, in, or with letters to correspondents, to demonstrate her investment in mobilizing interpersonal affectivity through personal, specific—not public, unspecific—poetic address. This dissertation makes substantial contribution to the field in three ways: it redresses the critical omission of materiality in the study of the rhetoric of nineteenth century American women’s poetry; it extends feminist historiography of women’s rhetoric to include the materiality of poetic address; and it extends the study of Dickinson in context, by situating her among her peers, deeply and inextricably in the material context of mid-nineteenth-century periodical culture.
This dissertation contributes to the fields of Canadian literature, American literature, and transnational and hemispheric studies by examining Canada’s place in American Renaissance discussions about imperialism, citizenship, and racial and national identity. In the nineteenth-century US, Canada became symbolically important because of its perceived common origins with the US as well as its increasing resistance to forms of American imperialism. Canadian Migrations examines the significance of the Canada-US relationship by analysing literary representations of two population movements across the Canada-US border: the 1755 deportation of French Catholic Acadians from Canada to the American colonies and the antebellum flight of African Americans north to Canada. American authors gravitated towards these narratives of displacement to and from Canada in order to discuss the meaning of American citizenship and the treatment of racial minorities within US borders. I argue that both of these Canada-US movements prompted critical inquiries in US culture about forms of American imperialism. In Part One, I examine authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who portrayed the violent expulsion of Acadians by British troops justified the creation of the United States as a necessary defense against imperial rule. Yet the Acadian expulsion also prompted these authors to question the contemporary US government’s own displacement of racial and linguistic minorities through slavery and westward expansion. In Part Two, I examine the northward movement of fugitive slaves across Lake Erie to Canada. By crossing Lake Erie, Black migrants—and the iconic texts written about them—challenged the conceptual categories that sustained US slavery and imperialism. Authors such as Stowe, Josiah Henson, Lewis Clarke, and William Wells Brown described scenes of nautical transit and transformation across the Lake Erie Passage to contest US slavery and to develop notions of Black citizenship. By recovering this conversation about the significance of Canada-US cross-border movement, I position nineteenth-century Canada within the movement of people and ideas across the Black Atlantic world. Together, my chapters demonstrate how the imagined community of the United States emerged through a series of complex political, cultural, and literary negotiations with Canada.
My dissertation examines the cultural functions of poetry in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. After 9/11, poems could be found in many and unexpected places: they were posted on the internet in the tens of thousands; published in newspapers, magazines, and single-author books; read aloud on television and on radio and collected in at least ten anthologies. Seeking to explain this surge in poetry’s popularity, many critics have discussed the genre’s ability to provide comfort. I suggest that poems after 9/11 be seen also as examples of memory scholar Marita Sturken’s “technologies of memory”: politically-charged objects through which memories are shared, produced, and given meaning. I argue that poetry can be held accountable for its production of the memory of 9/11 and that it can be investigated for the multiple functions it serves in the aftermath of crisis. Using the resources of memory studies, and of cultural studies of poetry, my dissertation makes a case for poetry’s political, memorial, witness, and public-discourse functions. My chapters explore (1) the popularity of W.H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939” after 9/11 and the contemporary politics of the poem’s circulation; (2) the memorial function of poetry as that function is negotiated in a text installation in the newly-built 7 World Trade Centre; (3) the function of poetry as witness and the way the mediation of 9/11 invites a reconsideration of the witness position itself; and (4) the public-discourse function of poetry found, for example, at poetry.com, where 55, 031 people have uploaded their 9/11 poems. By studying poetry’s national presence after 9/11, I challenge the idea, dominant especially since the mid-twentieth century, that poetry is a marginal genre in literature and culture. I also challenge the mid-twentieth century notion that poetry’s value can best be found in its timelessness. Poetry had many timely functions after 9/11 and can be read as a set of discursive practices integrated in our everyday lives.
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
There is no documentary evidence that Louisa Burr (c.1784-1878) and her better-known brother John Pierre Burr (1792-1864) are the biracial children of U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. The oral history of their parentage, however, is persuasive and consistent over a period of 230 years. Descendants have continued to tell their children and grandchildren of their descent from Aaron Burr through as many as eight generations. Drawing on archival research, fiction, memoir, biography, news clippings, and naming practices, as valid evidence that supports oral history and situates it within the context of historical events that had the effect of silencing, I will recover the biography of one woman of color and pose research questions for the ongoing search for her mother. Louisa Burr’s various Philadelphia house addresses throughout her life, the social connections among Aaron Burr and his associates in 1790s Philadelphia, and the political activities of Louisa Burr’s family and friends in the first half of the nineteenth century, all provide circumstantial evidence that supplements the oral family history and demonstrates that Aaron Burr’s family of color not only participated in the growth of the Early Republic but made significant contributions to early African American activism, culture, and literature. The complex portrait of Louisa Burr that emerges is one of a biracial Northern woman who lived simultaneously—and apparently harmoniously—in both abolitionist and Southern-sympathizing households. Louisa Burr’s double life, bound by conflicting loyalties, gave her a rare ground-view perspective of the sectional crisis—a perspective that we can only now appreciate through the traces of refracted light emanating from her family and friends.
This thesis is a critical edition of His Royal Nibs, the final published novel by early Chinese Canadian author Winnifred Eaton Reeve, better known by her Japanese pseudonym, “Onoto Watanna.” Born in Montreal to a Chinese mother and a British father, and the younger sister to celebrated Chinese Canadian author Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far), Winnifred Eaton is best remembered as the prolific author of the hundreds of highly successful and immensely popular Japanese-themed romances she wrote as “Onoto Watanna” in the early twentieth century while living in the United States. Published in 1925 and signed “Winifred Reeve,” His Royal Nibs bears little resemblance to Japanese romances that captivated early American audiences and that, in their troubling appropriation and stereotyped depiction of Japanese identity, continue to challenge scholars today. Set on a cattle ranch near Calgary, Alberta, His Royal Nibs is the culmination of Eaton’s campaigns to become a “Canadian author” and insert herself into the bourgeoning networks of Canadian literature. Yet, while scholars acknowledge her life in Alberta, few have taken her Canadian works seriously and even fewer have paid attention to the significance of Eaton as a prairie writer.This edition seeks to correct this imbalance by situating Eaton’s final novel within her “Alberta Years.” The first edition of His Royal Nibs since its original publication in 1925, and the first standalone, annotated edition of Eaton’s novels, this thesis seeks to re-introduce critics to Eaton and demonstrate the significance of His Royal Nibs as both a text that offers a complicated meditation on identity and one that enters into contemporary debates surrounding the colonial histories of Alberta.