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Man Enough, White Homo Eroticism, Geoffrey Saunders

Man Enough, White Homo Eroticism, Geoffrey Saunders

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Published by: LCLibrary on Jul 04, 2009
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 ABSTRACTTitle of Dissertation: MAN ENOUGH: FRATERNAL INTIMACY, WHITEHOMOEROTICISM, AND IMAGINEDHOMOGENEITY IN MID-NINETEENTH-CENTURYAMERICAN LITERATUREGeoffrey Saunders Schramm, Doctor of Philosophy, 2006Dissertation directed by: Professor Marilee LindemannDepartment of English“Man Enough” construes mid-nineteenth-century literary representations of sameness as corollaries of the struggle during this volatile era to realize unity amongwhite men. I argue that three canonical authors envision homoerotic or same-sex eroticdesire as a mechanism through which men can honor and defend sameness. These authorsadvert the connotative power of sameness by envisioning or assaying erotic desirebetween men as democratic. This fraternally conjugal (or conjugally fraternal) unionserves as a consequence of the cultural directive to preserve the nation’s homogeneity.In chapter one I reflect upon the circulation of sameness in mid-nineteenth-century America. I provide an overview of the logic of sameness in conceptions of raceand then discuss how it textured sexual difference. As historians have recorded, new
homosocial spheres led to fraternal intimacy at a time when white men competed in thefree market economy. These new forms of friendship were erotically—though notnecessarily sexually—charged.In the second chapter I argue that in The Blithedale Romance Hawthornerepresents homoeroticism as effecting strong, yet tender erotic bonds between men thatcircumvent women and feminizing domesticity. He ultimately registers that same-sexerotic desire imperils male individualism and autonomy since it demands submission.Chapter three begins with an observation that critics fail to consider howdominant attitudes about race and gender shaped Whitman’s representations. Anotheraspect of his Leaves of Grass that has eluded attention is the prevalence of California inhis work. As I argue, Whitman's references to California in his own “Blue Book” copy of the 1860 edition suggest his desire for a racially and sexually homogeneous gay nation.Herman Melville's Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War is the focus of my finalchapter. In this poetry he underscores that the homosocial martial life of war providedAmerican men with an opportunity to forge fraternal intimacy with one another. Seekingto memorialize the sacrifices of Union soldiers, Melville sentimentalizes their losses somuch that his poetry comes across as a homoerotic epic. Melville in Battle-Pieces offers amodel of fraternity in which men eroticize racial and gender sameness.
 MAN ENOUGH: FRATERNAL INTIMACY, WHITE HOMOEROTICISM,AND IMAGINED HOMOGENEITY IN MID-NINETEENTH-CENTURYAMERICAN LITERATUREbyGeoffrey Scott Saunders SchrammDissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of theUniversity of Maryland, College Park in partial fulfillmentof the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy2006Advisory Committee:Professor Marilee Lindemann, ChairProfessor Jonathan AuerbachProfessor Robert S. LevineProfessor Deborah RosenfeltProfessor Martha Nell Smith

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