Primal Matter : Deep Objects in Historical Accounts of the Glanton Gang Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/wd375z90t

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  • The question of deep time has been widely debated in the field of American Literature, with scholar Wai Chee Dimock arguing that a deep time perspective puts the chronology of different nations against one another. However, this argument has not adequately addressed the issue of how deep time theories would incorporate the material world. My thesis expands Dimock's theories of deep time in American historical narratives by including how these theories interface with natural structures and how those interactions might in turn shape social texts. In my work, I explore the way deep objects recode a set of historical events from American history: the textual representations of a group of scalphunters known as the Glanton Gang. I first look to Dimock's theories to tease out what a deep time reading would look like including deep objects. I then juxtapose Frederick Jackson Turner's definition of manifest destiny with two varying accounts of the Glanton Gang's travels: one historical memoir from Samuel Chamberlain and one fictional account from Cormac McCarthy. By tracing the interactions between deep objects and American historical narratives, I explore ways social texts are inevitably shaped by natural as well as anthropocentric objects and structures. I argue that by replacing stable histories with timelines of relationality, deep objects de-naturalize the expansion of America’s national border. In conclusion, this project, by closely examining the material world’s influence upon geologic history in American Literature, sheds light on the ways American empire has tried to naturalize its domination for centuries.
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