McGettigan, Katherine Ellen (2014) The material text and the literary marketplace in the novels of Herman Melville. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines Herman Melville's representations of the material text and the literary marketplace in the novels he published between 1846 and 1857. Thus far,
scholarship has emphasized Melville's hostility towards literary production in mid­nineteenth century America, and positioned the book object as a constraint on his
imagination. However, this thesis argues that the industrially produced and commercially circulated book was also a powerful source of inspiration for Melville, and that the printed book is both the subject of and a tool for literary representation in his novels. Combining book history and literary criticism, the thesis considers
Melville's aesthetic engagements with the material text in order to provide new perspectives on central concerns in Melville's writing: authenticity, ambiguity, irony, and originality.

Chapter 1 gives an overview of the technological, economic and social
conditions of literary production in antebellum America, contemporary responses to those conditions, and previous studies of Melville's representations of and relations with the literary marketplace. Chapter 2 examines Melville's ludic uses of print in Typee and Omoo, and Chapter 3 considers the relationship between book covers, the market, and selfhood in Redburn and White-Jacket. Chapter 4 explore's the circulation of the book object in markets and metaphors in Moby-Dick. Chapters 5 and 6 return to the materiality of the text, examining the ambiguities of paper and papermaking in Pierre, and The Confidence-Man's construction of original writing through
technologically reproducibility. The Conclusion then suggests that the material text and literary marketplace can be best understood as embodying potential for Melville, functioning as partial and contingent spaces in his works, in which a union of aesthetic and economic value is never fully realized, but is always possible.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2017 10:54
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2017 10:54
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/4161

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