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Hole, Jeffrey (2008) INVENTION OF AN INFIDEL:HERMAN MELVILLE'S LITERARY HERESIES AND THE DOCTRINES OF EMPIRE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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"Invention of an Infidel" examines Herman Melville's prose fiction written in the wake of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Specifically addressing Moby-Dick, "Benito Cereno," and The Confidence-Man, I argue that these imaginative works attempt to expose the catastrophic associations between the U.S.'s domestic "problems"—such as Negro slave revolt and Indian insurrection—and the U.S.'s broader global interventions in politics and commerce. I show that it was through invention, through historical discovery and re-making, that Melville was able to characterize new and intense forces of domination and regulation over human populations, property, and networks of exchange that accompanied American interests in opening and liberalizing commerce. Melville's heretical inventions, I further show, were not necessarily limited to religious and theological contexts, as many previous critics have presupposed, but rather had developed simultaneously in relation to a dominant U.S. discourse that conflated the religious notions of redemption and election with liberal and secular expressions of American power. These expressions, or what I call doctrines of empire, were often evinced in the discourse of the American sublime and American transcendentalism. Writing in the midst of and attempting to provide a literary understanding of the intensification and transnational reach of American power during the nineteenth century, Melville's heretical inventions make possible a theorization of American power that, I argue, is important for studies of the U.S. and its geopolitical influence over the globe in our own moment.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hole, Jeffreyjwhst17@pitt.eduJWHST17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBove, Paul A
Committee MemberPease, Donald E
Committee MemberGlazener, Nancy
Committee MemberJudy, Ronald A. T
Date: 24 January 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 25 October 2007
Approval Date: 24 January 2008
Submission Date: 6 December 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aesthetics; Asymmetric Conflict; Herman Melville; Infidel; Insurrection; Liberalism; Stasis; Sublime; Heresy; Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Other ID:, etd-12062007-003035
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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