American becoming : poetics, space, and race in the travel narratives of Herman Melville and Jack Kerouac
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Prof. HUANG Yunte
Prof. STEVIC Aleksandar
This dissertation examines the travel narratives of Herman Melville and Jack Kerouac arguing that these works epitomize a literary ”becoming” in American history. Being a crucial component of Gilles Deleuze’s positive ontology, this ”becoming” mirrors a multiple and constant transformation toward the minor, the marginal, and the non-white and resonates rigorously with the literature of Melville and Kerouac. The representative works by these two canonical American authors, namely, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846) and On the Road (1957), construct aesthetic spaces in which readers are called upon to appreciate the American life of becoming-Pacific and becoming-beat. The geographical and psychological trajectories depicted in both works also allow for an ethical engagement with the Other. Drawing upon anthropology and literary criticism, I further argue that, against the background of imperial expansion and capitalistic production, both Melville and Kerouac’s narratives provide cultural insights that gesture toward an Avant-garde and futuristic cosmopolitanism.
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Song, Y. (2022). American becoming: Poetics, space, and race in the travel narratives of Herman Melville and Jack Kerouac (Doctor's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/otd/168/