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Chapman, Schuyler (2014) THE COMPLETE CITIZEN: THE MARINER AS CITIZEN IN ANTEBELLUM U.S. LITERARY CULTURE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although much political discourse of the antebellum period characterized the mariner as a problem for the emerging nation and its body politic to solve, the era’s literary culture adopted a position that contrasts the expressed ideas of early U.S. political figures in its more complicated perspective of the sailor. Ultimately fickle and variable, U.S. maritime literature published before the Civil War nevertheless demonstrates an intricate, nuanced understanding of what happens when citizenship finds itself unmoored and adrift in the currents of inter- and intranational aquatic spaces. In other words, antebellum literary culture rejects the postures of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Authors like James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, and J. H. Ingraham value the variegated political significance and ideals attached to their fictional sailors. They present their mariners as contributing necessary and positive features to the body politic, either by reinforcing extant civic models or proposing new ones. Of course, the representation of the sailor as citizen also emerges as a complicated, vexed topic in the literature of the era. While the common sailor might find himself an idealized civic model, other maritime figures—the pirate and the riverman—appear ultimately beyond the ken of the body politic. What we find, then, in the antebellum treatment of the mariner-citizen are two uneven strands of development: On the one hand, authors like Cooper, Ingraham, and authors of pirate narratives stake out conservative positions regarding the sailor’s civic fitness, recuperating the sailor as a political figure only by fitting him or her to extant models of citizenship and by removing the revolutionary threats embodied by the historical sailors described in work by Peter Linebaugh, Marcus Rediker, and Leon Fink. On the other hand, authors like Melville, Emil Klauprecht, and the often anonymous authors of Mike Fink legends employ their maritime narratives to take more politically progressive positions—using the mariner to redefine civic ideals or underscoring the ways that rivermen, necessarily national, internal maritime figures offer a more problematic challenge to U.S. civic ideals than the socially and politically egalitarian seaman.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chapman, Schuylersjc38@pitt.eduSJC38
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeikle-Mills, Courtneycaw57@pitt.eduCAW57
Committee MemberArac, Jonathanjarac@pitt.eduJARAC
Committee MemberGlazener, Nancyglazener@pitt.eduGLAZENER
Committee MemberRediker, Marcusred1@pitt.eduRED1
Date: 28 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 February 2014
Approval Date: 28 May 2014
Submission Date: 7 April 2014
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 298
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: Sailors in literature, American literature--nineteenth century, Citizenship--United States of America, Rivers in Literature
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 15:54
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 05:15


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