Reading the Transatlantic Gothic Fiction of Walter Scott and Edgar Allan Poe

  • George S. Williams

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Despite a substantial amount of critical work that has been produced concerning the transatlantic nature of early nineteenth century Gothic fiction, there remain areas that require further examination. While many of the recent studies on the subject seek answers to larger questions pertaining to Gothic and its relationships to social and political debates surrounding the Atlantic world, some of the fine details of these relationships have gone with little examination. By exploring some disparate but important characteristics of the genre from a transatlantic perspective, this thesis looks to fill some of these gaps left by scholarship that has largely overlooked the minutiae of transatlantic Gothic. Reading the Transatlantic Gothic Fiction of Walter Scott and Edgar Allan Poe looks to provide more detail about publishing histories, peritexts such as epigraphs and footnotes, the grotesque as a literary aesthetic, and the politics that surround these issues. Each chapter engages with scholarly research on the specified subject and views Scott and Poe’s engagement with the subject from a transatlantic perspective.

The first chapter examines the publication histories of both Scott and Poe not only to put these authors in a cultural and historical context, but also to demonstrate that with a shared network of readers, critics, editors, printers, and publishers, both Scott and Poe faced a volatile and enigmatic industry that fueled what some might consider to be a certain lack of confidence or insecurity in their more Gothic literature or, at the very least, the Gothic elements in their texts. In response, these authors began to position their works into a cultural model with an aim to please both the critics who were deriding Gothic fiction and the readers who still craved the supernatural. As I demonstrate in Chapter Two, epigraphs became a way to position their works into a respected cultural tradition, while footnotes became tools to tone down the supernatural by making it more plausible. As their texts were becoming more recognized as works of art, Scott and Poe began to develop and refine their own set of aesthetics. The third chapter explores what would become one of the most relevant aesthetics of Gothic fiction, the grotesque. Finally, Chapter Four briefly examines some of the political ideologies of Scott and Poe not only because politics was such an important part of early Gothic fiction, but also because the first three chapters of this research touch on the political positions of Scott and Poe.
Date of Award2019
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Dundee
SupervisorTimothy Morris (Supervisor) & Aliki Varvogli (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Walter Scott
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Gothic
  • Transatlantic

Cite this

Reading the Transatlantic Gothic Fiction of Walter Scott and Edgar Allan Poe
Williams, G. S. (Author). 2019

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy