Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



My dissertation, entitled The Darkest Nation: American Melancholia in Modernist Narratives of the First World War, re-conceptualizes U.S. modernism by attending to how the historical event of WWI inaugurated melancholia, or sustained grief, as the cornerstone of a new form of nationalism. Scholars have focused either on how consolatory mourning bolstered patriotism or how melancholia led to the demise of such an imagined community and to the growth of cosmopolitanism. I consider, however, an American modernist commitment to the nation of loss expressed, surprisingly enough, in narratives about noncombatants. For a country that entered the military conflict near its end, noncombatancy (in the form of political neutrality and survivor's guilt) shapes the literary contours of America's melancholy wartime and postwar identity.



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Committee Chair

Kennedy, J. Gerald