Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

English Language and Literatures

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

David S. Shields

Abstract

This dissertation traces the literary history of the British American Loyalists as they spread through the Atlantic and across the North American continent during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in order to reassess our understanding of the origins of cultural nationalism and the early literary history of the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. As a result, it implicitly argues for a reconsideration of American literature as developing in a simultaneously hemispheric and transatlantic response to British Empire. I argue that the Loyalists, through their lived experience of the war, exile, and reincorporation back into the body politic, are necessary to the imaginative conditions of U.S. citizenship and the re-imagination of British Colonial subjecthood. While many reconsiderations of American literature have accounted for the British influence of American culture, none of these studies accounts for those Americans who fought for a desire to keep America British or how such people affected the nascent United States. While American literature defines itself by systematically imitating and appropriating British literature, there exists within it stylistic and historical remnants of the Loyalists and their continued place in American culture throughout the period. The residual effect of the Loyalists on American culture, as well as their role in the historical memory of the origins of the United States yet remains a problem ripe for further literary historical investigation, and it is the goal of this study to fill in such lacuna through the close analyses of select literary touchstones of the period.

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