Language in Crisis in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland

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Title: Language in Crisis in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland
Author: Singley, Sarah
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: This thesis examines Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland as a critique of Western philosophy. Brown questions the logos, rationality, and the ideal of God. Brown is profoundly skeptical about truth and knowledge as attainable goods: he is fearful of the unreliability of language and the instability of human consciousness (coterminous with language). The first part of the thesis investigates Clara’s and Wieland’s attempts at analysis and interpretation. This section arrives at Brown’s dismissal of Hume’s empirical model of human knowledge and consciousness. Brown also rejects monogenetism as the basis of language. The second part of the thesis studies the narrator’s task of constructing a tale, of manipulating language. Clara is aware of being in a text: as she highlights her inherent untrustworthiness as a storyteller and the various reads of any text, she subverts her own narrative. As Clara undermines our ability to see her as a credible source of information, she leads us to questions about the authority of text and language. The third part of the thesis looks at Brown’s take on religion: Brown is subversive of the traditional Protestant ‘God’ as the symbol of truth and natural order. Finally, the thesis turns to Brown as a linguist in his own right, situating him in relation to other theorists of language: Heidegger, Lao-tzu, and Derrida.
Subject: Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771-1810 -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771-1810. Wieland
Subject: Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771-1810 -- Views on religion
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Singley, Sarah. "Language in Crisis in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland". 2010. Available electronically from

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