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Genre and the representation of violence in American Civil War texts by Edmund Wright, John William De Forest, and Henry James Open Access


Other title
American Civil War, 1861-1865
American literature
Popular literature
The Narrative of Edmund Wright
"The Story of a Year"
History--United States
Nineteenth century
"A Most Extraordinary Case"
"Poor Richard"
Henry James
Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty
J.W. (John William) De Forest
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zenari, Vivian Alba
Supervisor and department
Watson, W.G. (English and Film Studies)
Bucknell, Bradley (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Bartley, William (English, University of Saskatchewan)
Romeo, Sharon (History and Classics)
Wallace, Jo-Ann (English and Film Studies/Women’s Studies)
Department of English and Film Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation investigates the relationship between genre and the representation of war-time violence in five texts written during and shortly after the United States Civil War (1861-1865). The texts are The Narrative of Edmund Wright (1864), John William De Forest’s Miss Ravenel’s Conversion from Secession to Loyalty (1867), and three short stories by Henry James—“The Story of a Year” (1865), “Poor Richard” (1867), and “A Most Extraordinary Case” (1868). These texts deal with the theme of war violence through generic mechanisms associated with the spectrum of writings often dichotomized as romance and realism. The main theoretical approach to genre depends on a distinction between criterial theories of genre and contingency theories of genre. Criterial theories emphasize the shared characteristics of literary texts: that is, criterial theories of genre are classificatory in orientation. Contingency theories emphasize the ways in which social forces influence the act of classification: contingency theories of genre, in other words, concentrate on the notion that genres are social constructs. This dissertation maintains, in line with contingency theory, that genre is affected by the social, political and cultural circumstances of the period in which the genre operates; as a result, this dissertation uses documents from and about the American Civil War to substantiate its claims. The work of Alice Fahs, David Reynolds, and John Frow has influenced the approach to genre theory and to nineteenth-century American literary history.
License granted by Vivian Zenari ( on 2010-06-25T19:36:37Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Chapter 5 ��� Conclusion
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File title: Chapter 5 Conclusion
File author: Vivian Zenari
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