Identifier

etd-04052006-145017

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Although Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad are generally regarded as sea writers, both wrote numerous works concerned primarily with events on land. But critical approaches to both writers display a tendency to prioritize one set of environments. A result of such approaches is to overlook the manner in which Melville and Conrad explore the relationship between land and sea. This paper argues that one way to analyze how both writers examine that relationship is by locating it within the space of the modern world-system. Immanuel Wallerstein defines the modern world-system as the capitalist world-economy that qualifies as the only historical system on the globe--a role it has occupied since the sixteenth century. Thus, the modern world-system provides a global frame within which to position Melville and Conrad. Works such as Melville’s MARDI (1849) and Conrad’s NOSTROMO (1904) provide a unique approach to the world-system by employing a distinct process of spatial exploration as a means of examining geographic areas of the world that are at least partially imaginary. In the end, both Melville and Conrad are not merely sea writers, but rather world-system writers.

Date

2006

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Richard C. Moreland

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