Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 239 pages) : illustrations, maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Patricia Chu

Committee Members

Jennifer Greiman, James Lilley


Archives, Charles Brockden Brown, Herman Melville, James Fenimore Cooper, John Rollin Ridge, State Narratives, State, The, in literature, American fiction

Subject Categories

American Literature | American Studies


This dissertation critiques the treatment of State spaces in four 19th Century American novels--Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly (1793), James Fenimore Cooper's Wyandotte; or, the Hutted Knoll (1843), John Rollin Ridge's The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta (1854), and Herman Melville's The Piazza Tales (1856)--to expose underlying resistances to the limiting historical narratives that fuel and justify the imperialistic expansion of State. Through a close examination of the narrative construction and interpretation of geographic features, topographical layouts, and other environmental elements, I detail how these texts engage issues of State expansion and appropriation, establishing prominent correlations between territorial capture, the underpinning logics of imperialism, and the associated ideological manipulation of history. Such manipulated histories can be understood as "dominant" or "hegemonic" State narratives that establish and preserve national unity in a bid to maintain State power. Brown, Cooper, Ridge, and Melville turn to spatial relations to elucidate the mechanisms that produce these dominant historical narratives, and subsequently interject alternative histories that are heterogenic and non-teleologic in structure. Uncovering these early 19th Century novelists' awareness of the relationship between space and State power provides a picture of the diverse resistances to the early chapters of US imperialism. Further, this study attempts to expose the mechanistic tendencies of State regimes to create teleological narratives of history, and how such histories are resisted in contemporaneous fictions.