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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52949
Doc. No:TL22903
Call number:‭3292054‬
Main Entry:Matthew Merlino
Title & Author:Contemporary historical fiction and the unsettling of AmericaMatthew Merlino
College:University of Pennsylvania
Date:2007
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2007
Page No:315
Abstract:Contemporary Historical Fiction and the Unsettling of America reads the novels of Wilson Harris, Ishmael Reed, Bharati Mukherjee, and Toni Morrison as revisions of American spatial myths, from Biblical discourses of wilderness and typologies of a New Israel to nostalgic depictions of slave plantations. Attending to the significance of representations of place and migration, settling and exploring, I argue that the contemporary historical novel at once criticizes imperial attitudes toward space and redeems travel as a means of recovering what history has erased. My project proposes that recent historical novels have transformed the spatial and historical figures that once defined the nineteenth-century historical romance's opposition of conservative and progressive cultures, with the former relegated to the past and the latter celebrated as the inevitable future. Historical fiction today adapts the genre's conventional trope of travel in space as travel in time to explode linear histories and stable spatial boundaries, and consequently, to challenge Western imperial and American exceptionalist practices. Each chapter introduces those representations of space and travel from past literatures of the Americas revised by contemporary novels, including Walter Raleigh's The Discovery of Guiana (1596) and Josiah Henson's slave narrative (1849). Together, my readings reveal that the postmodern fiction of writers like Wilson Harris and Toni Morrison is continuous with the literary traditions of the Americas; but I also detail the critical stance of recent historical fiction toward this tradition. My cross-cultural approach to genre as socially symbolic form brings together novels from a variety of ethnic traditions; and I follow these writers' lead by maintaining a focus on the Americas even as I trace their visions of diaspora, pluralism, cosmopolitanism, regional migration, and globalization.
Subject:Language, literature and linguistics; Fiction; Harris, Wilson; Historical novel; Morrison, Toni; Mukherjee, Bharati; Reed, Ishmael; American literature; 0591:American literature
Added Entry:J. English
Added Entry:University of Pennsylvania