Date of Award

1993

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

William Demastes

Second Advisor

Patrick McGee

Abstract

This dissertation traces the development of an American masculinity, using the concept of the national subject (borrowed from Frantz Fanon), through three different stages of the American capitalism: mercantile, or market, monopoly, and corporate, or late-capitalism. It constructs a genealogy of American maleness and then examines how this genealogy was altered and reconstituted during times of economic crisis and technological innovation. It argues that successive technological revolutions in the symbolic apparatus of American culture allowed elite political and economic interests to gain consensus by deploying the national subject using various media. In the early national period Franklin and Crevecoeur used the national subject to encourage immigration and expansion; in the Jacksonian era, Jackson and his supporters used the national subject to sanction Manifest Destiny; and in the late 1880s, Andrew Carnegie and Horatio Alger, Jr. used the national subject to valorize the practices of industrial capitalism. In the forties, the national subject was resurrected to sanction the emergent structure of corporate capitalism, or what Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno called late-capitalism. The final three chapters of this dissertation examine the relationship between the writings of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller and the advent of late-capitalism. Specifically, I examine how O'Neill, Williams, and Miller challenge the dominant version of the national subject by offering a counter-discourse to the consumerism and nationalism advocated by popular conceptions of American masculinity. Using the writings of Jacques Lacan and the Frankfurt School, I attempt to situate the drama of O'Neill, Williams, and Miller in a broader historical context, a context which has thus far been either ignored or repressed.

Pages

262

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