English Language and Literature ETDs

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The apparent indifference of nature toward man is a characteristic feature of Herman Melville’s writings that marks a distinction between Melville and his contemporaries, the romantics. Although Melville writes during the romantic period in American Literature and is both a romantic and a transcendentalist in many of his attitudes, he does not fully share the optimism and the worship of nature that was strong in the United States during the pre-Civil war period. In Britain the confidence of romanticism was giving way to the skepticism of the Victorians as Melville began his literary career. Melville’s own attitude of question, doubt, and pessimism reflects his acquaintance with Victorian writers and his dissatisfaction with contemporary romanticism. His treatment of nature during a period in which nature was the object of reverence among religious-aesthetic cults and the very source of being within naturalistic theories which almost assumed the proportions of religion among their adherents is an index to man facets of his thought and is certainly one measure of his acceptance of romantic standards of his own time and environment as well as his deviation from them.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

George Warren Arms

Second Committee Member

Ernest Warren Baughman

Third Committee Member

Hamlin Lewis Hill Jr.

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