Date of Award

Summer 7-15-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Audrey Goodman and Dr. Robert Sattelmeyer

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Kocela

Abstract

It is the aim of this dissertation to discuss the creation of historiographic space in the works of Francis Parkman. More specifically, this dissertation intends to analyze Parkman’s The Oregon Trail and Montcalm and Wolfe as literary texts that examine geographies of cultural interaction and transnational empire building. Parkman’s historical narratives, this dissertation suggests, not only describe historically significant sites, such as the Oregon Trail and the Northern Frontier, but further create literary heterotopias. These textual counter geographies, as for instance his conceptualizations of the trading posts of the far West and the wilderness fortifications of the far North, allow Parkman to effectively interrogate American history. By investigating the fruitful juncture between history, geography, and literature this project aims to establish the importance of historical geographies for Francis Parkman’s methodology and define its function for the creation of a national consciousness. In addition to Parkman’s use of space, this dissertation further analyzes the historian’s depiction of historical characters and his subsequent attempts to define American identity. Thereby, my analysis specifically highlights the relationship between Parkman’s literary characters and their environment. In an attempt to trace the impact Parkman’s historical narratives exert on postmodern authors of American literature, the concluding chapters interrogate the re-negotiation of Parkman’s historiographic spaces in Thomas King’s Truth and Bright Water and William T. Vollmann’s Fathers and Crows.

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