Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Second Advisor

Adetayo Alabie

Third Advisor

Cristina Delano

Abstract

Using Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, “The Plantation Pull: Modernities and Genre in the Anglo-Hispanic-Dutch Caribbean-Atlantic, 1831-1935” contrasts the idea of homogeneous national ideals with depictions in literature of stratified geopolitical regions deeply divided by issues of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status matching those ambivalent spaces described by Homi Bhabha in Nation and Narration. The project demonstrates in literature the way that the values of the capitalist plantation machine based around mechanization and modernization, what I term “the plantation pull,” nevertheless thwarts one of the major iterations of modernity in the nineteenth century: nation formation. The “plantation pull” encompasses the way in which the sweeping and polarizing effects of power and money in a colonial schema of a European/American populace consuming the products and profits of slave labor influenced not only the commercial markets across the globe, but affected everyday social norms, consumerism, psychology and ethics from New Orleans to Havana and London. Conversely, I argue that systems that I term "micro-modernities," which counter the workings of macro-plantation economies, and engagements in such modernities, especially by women and people of color, forward a unifying national agenda far more. The project utilizes slave narratives, melodrama, fiction, as well as historical data about routes that created plantation cultures and economies worldwide. Chapter one, “Caribbean-Atlantic Routes of Slave Writings: 'Resident / Alien' Circumnavigated” analyzes the psychological and economic pull of West Indian slavery from the perspective of the doubly-colonized slave/colonial subject in Manzano’s Autobiografía de un esclavo / Autobiography of a Slave and The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself. Chapter two, “The Mixed-race Melodrama of Plantation Romances” advocates for the inclusion of melodrama in plantation studies and deconstructs the function of multiculturalism and racial mixture in the British-/American-performed play, The Octoroon, and the Puerto Rican La cuarterona “The Quadroon,” in the context of nineteenth-century global protest drama. Chapter three, “Forging a New Identity, Forsaking Nostalgia for Some Forgotten Whole: Kate Chopin’s At Fault and Cola Debrot’s My Black Sister, Reconciliation Narratives that Diversify,” considers the post-colonial reconciliation moment of the U.S. South and the Dutch Caribbean in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, respectively.

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