Alumni

The nature of his engagement Nathaniel Hawthorne, the trans-Atlantic imaginary, and the politics of reform

View Full Record
Description: Nathaniel Hawthorne's response to antebellum reform movements was unsympathetic, and he is thus frequently characterized as apolitical. This thesis, however, explores his political and social concerns in The Whole History of Grandfather's Chair and The Blithedale Romance as a form of an American cultural imaginary inherited from the Puritans. One wing, Hawthorne's, located evil as a possibility within the self; the other---represented by reformers as the cultural imaginary became secularized---extruded it outward. This work explores four facets of Hawthorne's political views: (1) his interest in the English diaspora; (2) his representation of dissensus as constitutive of American society; (3) his depiction of slavery as a threatening obverse to English creole freedom; and (4) the contestation of genre in Blithedale as a mirror of the contestation in the pre-Civil War United States. These explorations show that Hawthorne's work is not absent an interest in political concerns such as the construction of freedom and dissensus and consensus, but intensely concerned with them.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work