Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Robert Dodge

Number of Pages



The current study, in its broadest scope, explores the nature of literary art primarily as a moral experience. Specifically, it addresses ironic allegory---a genre of fiction born during the American Renaissance of the mid-nineteenth century. As an amalgam of two other oblique genres, Gothic fiction and Puritan allegory, ironic allegory was originally the product of Nathaniel Hawthorne's moral imagination and tragic sensibility; consequently, its primary themes are the properties of time, the problems of tragedy, the process of transformation, and the preeminence of truth. Focusing exclusively on the architectural metaphors in Cooper's Templeton trilogy, Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, and Melville's Pierre, the current study discusses the capacity of the edifice to mystify us with protection, possession, permanence, and ultimately pride. It also highlights key moments of irony, when detachment from an edifice leads to a demystifying Fall; It is the aim of the current study to promote a greater understanding, and thus appreciation, of America's great ironic allegorists by clearing up the confusion and cultural bias underlying the symbol/allegory debate among literary critics. Far from a static, dogmatic mode of expression, ironic allegory is in fact a dynamic, poetic literary genre that bridges the gap between romanticism and modernism. As the art of truth, it unflinchingly explores the doubleness of human experience; it celebrates art founded in morality, and beauty edified by truth.


Allegory; American; Architecture; Art; Cooper, James Fenimore; Cooper, James Fenimore; Hawthorne, Nathaniel; Herman Melville; James Fenimore Cooper; Nineteenth Century

Controlled Subject

American literature; Comparative literature; Architecture

File Format


File Size

6850.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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