Type of Document Thesis Author Taylor, Jennifer Renee URN etd-11242003-173915 Title Monsters More Than Men: Interrogating the Captivity Narrative in a Transatlantic Context Degree Master of Arts Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Dennis Moore Committee Chair Christopher Shinn Committee Member Daniel Vitkus Committee Member Keywords
- Renaissance Captivity
- Ottoman Empire
Date of Defense 2003-09-19 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
The third quiet revolution to which my title refers is occurring now. In both literature and history, important changes are taking place, with more and more scholars seriously questioning the methods of each discipline, the validity ofthe disciplinary boundaries institutionalized by our universities, the texts (in a broad as well as narrow sense) typically studied, and the ideologies embedded within our various scholarly enterprises.
Revolution and the Word
The quotation from Cathy Davidson’s Revolution and the Word still rings true after 17 years, as the revolution in academia she describes continues to take place. Scholars are redrawing or simply omitting boundaries, including those of nations and cultures, as well as of forms of literature. For this reason, it is time to consider how, for too long, scholars have remained quarantined within the era in which they have developed their expertise, and that narrowness has hurt literary studies. The following thesis includes a discussion of this very topic, and then sets out to demonstrate by discussing the difficult topic of origins. Where does a literary form or genre ‘originate?’ Is it an author, a place, an era? I contend that it is all three and neither, and no era may lay claim to any distinct form. Since this is true, compartmentalizing English departments into specialties of eras and forms with such little communication does not allow for the more complex readings necessary for understanding.
This complexity of origins is demonstrated thereafter with a discussion of captivity narratives, as they have lately been theorized to be the origins of the English novel. By complicating the history of the captivity narratives as a form, and by tracking some of the influences on the form as a whole, this thesis shows that the captivity narrative as a form also lacks a true origin. Why do we begin to separate history into eras, literature into forms, and therefore, compartmentalize ourselves into titles such as “Early Americanist?” Why do so few Early Americanists attend Renaissance conferences, for example?
Reaching as far out and beyond as an MA thesis will allow, my project interrogates the captivity narrative in a transatlantic context by mapping out influences and political agendas, and by breaking the divide between Early America and the Renaissance. An example of surprising information I have found by do so is that the narratives written in the English language have been influenced by Arabic culture as early as Medieval times.
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