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'This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine': Edgar Allan Poe, Native Americans and property

Klotz, Kurt (2011) 'This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine': Edgar Allan Poe, Native Americans and property. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates depictions of male dismemberment at Anglo and Native American contact sites in the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. It argues for Poe’s subscription to a traditional theology that posits Neoplatonic concepts of the soul as mandatory for the constitution of rational humanity, and contends that he looks critically from this perspective at the contingency of national citizenship on property ownership in Jacksonian America. This investigation therefore involves an analysis of the link between property and national subjectivity, with emphasis on the recurrent trope in contemporary literature of the male body dismembered by ‘Indian warfare’, and how this body represents early America’s uncertain claim to its national territory and, by extension, the constituting condition of property. This thesis also assesses epistemological and religious formations in Poe’s fiction. Poe’s tales often express a theological anxiety, with tensions created as the knowledge systems that define Poe’s subjectivities subordinate spirituality to empirical mensuration and representation. Dramatizing this shift from teleology to epistemology and its disarticulating effect on the self are Poe’s ‘married women’ stories. Keeping in mind links between soteriological paradigms and identity construction, methodologies are partially organized around Poe’s presentation of women in his essays and tales, with particular emphasis on ‘The Poetic Principle’ and ‘Berenice’. The interpretive apparatus gained by historical contextualization and the assessment of Poe’s epistemological and religious formations is then mobilized towards reading the disarticulate male body as a nexus of Poe’s concerns about property ownership, epistemology and theology, and analyzing his tales pertaining to colonial contact, particularly: ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, ‘Morning on the Wissahiccon’, ‘The Man That Was Used Up’, ‘The Journal of Julius Rodman’, and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe, Native Americans, Property, Colonial violence, Masculinity, Disarticulation, Neoplatonism, Jacksonian America
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Gair, Dr. Chris
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: Dr Kurt Klotz
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2647
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:58
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2647

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