How do I know you?: Identity Problems and Failure of Racial Binary in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

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How do I know you?: Identity Problems and Failure of Racial Binary in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

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Title: How do I know you?: Identity Problems and Failure of Racial Binary in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
Author: Shu, Ling
Advisor: Stadler, Gustavus T.
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of English
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: This thesis explores Poe's representations and understandings of race in Pym. After grounding the reader in racial understanding of Poe's time (1830's), the thesis explores binary theory in the context of race, where the key racial matrix is white versus non-white. Based on the understanding that binary pairs are negatively defined and thus structurally unstable and fluid, we can see evidence of racial trait blurring and identity bleeding in Pym. Racial identity determination is based upon both a physical (body) criterion and a performative criterion. We can see tension and contractions where the text struggles to uphold a racial binary but, to an extent, fails. These tensions and contradictions grow increasingly frequent as the narrative progresses. Identity is fluid and cannibalistic in nature. In a limited way, this thesis also addresses colonialism.
Subject: Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849 -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849. Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
Subject: Race in literature
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/6704

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Shu, Ling. "How do I know you?: Identity Problems and Failure of Racial Binary in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket". 2011. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/6704.

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