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Title: Republicanism and the American Gothic
Author(s): Michaud, Marilyn
Supervisor(s): Miles, Robert
Keywords: Republicanism
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Republicanism and the American Gothic is a comparative study of British and American literature and culture in the 1790s and 1950s. As the title indicates, this thesis explores the republican tradition of the British Enlightenment and the effect of its translation and migration to the American colonies. Specifically, it examines in detail the transatlantic influence of seventeenth and eighteenth century libertarian and anti-authoritarian thought on British and American Revolutionary culture. It argues that whether radical or orthodox, Whig or Tory, the quarrel surrounding the movement from subject to citizen nourishes Gothic aesthetics on both sides of the Atlantic. In America, particularly, the discourse of republicanism articulates not only the nation’s revolutionary goals, but defines national consciousness. This thesis further argues that republicanism is also a panic-ridden ideology, animated by fears of corruption, degeneration, and tyranny, and therefore supplies fertile ground for the development of a Gothic tradition in America. This dissertation then examines the continuing relevance of republican values and discourse in Cold War America. It suggests that the aesthetic, moral, and political imperatives that characterized republicanism in the late eighteenth century re-emerge in the post-war era as an antidote to the contemporary crisis in liberal subjectivity. In the Cold War, Gothic tales featuring doubles, vampires, and conspirators, not only dramatize contemporary fears of communism, conformity, and the rise of mass culture, but also engage with the nation’s historical fears of deception, corruption, degeneration, and tyranny. While grounded in the Gothic novel, this thesis is informed by the theory of republicanism that arose in the post-war years and which came to challenge many of the long held views of American revolutionary history. This thesis attempts to explore the influence of this historical approach on Cold War discourse generally, and on Gothic fiction specifically.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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