Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hathaway, Heather

Second Advisor

Bodden, MC

Third Advisor

Ratcliffe, Krista


I began my graduate career thinking I would devote my scholarship to what I had deemed to be "classic" American texts, which I defined through age: works of the Colonial and American Renaissance periods caught my attention because I thought they offered a clear, and obviously agreed upon and respected, definition of both American and literature. Crevecoeur, Hawthorne, Poe and Emerson-these men knew the American mind (with all of its macabre and egotistical trappings) and could project it clearly through their writing. While in my second year of the Master's program, I looked ahead to a possible thesis topic and read Edgar Allan Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket on the suggestion of a professor who knew of my interest in "classic" American writers and my secondary interest (which to me seemed more like a hobby than a scholarly lens) of representations of race. The novel left me wondering why the only character to survive the horrible shipwreck which concludes the novel is Dirk Peters, a racially mixed character of white, black, and Native American blood. The only other characters on board the small boat with Peters, but who do not survive, are Pym, a purely white character, and Nunu, a purely black character. Their deaths are caused by a mysterious white fog which rolls over the boat, leaving Dirk alive. The metaphor of the white fog could not be lost on the deft reader. Was Poe trying to claim something about the longevity of the human species based on race? Would interracial mixing be the antidote to mortality? And, was mortality brought about by white forces?...



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