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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

  • Author / Creator
    Zenari, Vivian Alba
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2010-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3S62T
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of English and Film Studies
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Bucknell, Bradley (English and Film Studies)
    • Watson, W.G. (English and Film Studies)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Wallace, Jo-Ann (English and Film Studies/Women’s Studies)
    • Bartley, William (English, University of Saskatchewan)
    • Romeo, Sharon (History and Classics)