Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Number of Pages
Many modernist writers attempted to transcend nationality but are ultimately unable to do so because of an unyielding fact of post-eighteenth century existence; namely, that a person possesses a nationality is an unavoidable, requisite donnee of modern life. This dissertation argues that this paradox was effectively resolved in the Atlantic world, an especially active locus of modernist meta-nationality, where a dialogic, unfinalizable transatlantic "nation" or, using Benedict Anderson's term, "imagined community" formed. This study examines three particular writers and works that frame and contribute to the development of this imagined community. First, I argue that the ideal "Anglo-Saxon total" Henry James identifies in an 1888 letter to his brother William is his vision of this transatlantic imagined community and that The Golden Bowl represents James' most concentrated literary expression of this community. Second, I argue that Nancy Cunard finds her most appropriate national identity as a member of the transatlantic imagined community and that the text for which she is arguably most remembered, Negro: An Anthology, is itself an intensively dialogic textual space that sets up an unfinalizable interaction of European, American, African, and West Indian national groups. Negro's set of unfinalizable elements, therefore, collectively suggest that the text, like Nancy Cunard, is comprehensively unfinalizable in terms of Atlantic world national identity. For this reason, I argue it is a textual representation of the transatlantic nation. Finally, I argue that Wide Sargasso Sea is a paradoxical representation of transatlantic community and colonial opposition: an incongruity that lends Wide Sargasso Sea a precise sense of historical accuracy. Representing the transatlantic nation in the late 1830s and early 1840s, Wide Sargasso Sea focuses on the Atlantic world as it developed from Empire into community, from prescribed, hegemonic, and ideologically homogeneous imperialism into self-proclaimed, populist community made up of diverse, dialogic, and unfinalizable regional constituencies.
Anthology; Anderson, Benedict; Border; Bowl; Community; Cunard; Cunard, Nancy; Dominica; Golden; Golden Bowl; Henry; Imagined; Imagined Communities; James, Henry; Movement; Mystery; Nancy; Negro: Anthology; Perpetual; Rhys, Jean; Sargasso; Sea; Transatlantic; Wide; Wide Sargasso Sea
Literature, Modern; American literature; British literature; English literature--Irish authors; Irish literature; Caribbean literature
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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Melton, Oliver Quimby, ""Perpetual movement, and a border of mystery": The transatlantic imagined community and Henry James' "The Golden Bowl", Nancy Cunard and "Negro: An Anthology", and Jean Rhys' "Wide Sargasso Sea"" (2007). UNLV Retrospective Theses & Dissertations. 2796.