Show simple item record

dc.contributor.author Bucksbarg, Jenny A.
dc.date.accessioned 2016-12-15T16:57:23Z
dc.date.available 2016-12-15T16:57:23Z
dc.date.issued 2011-05
dc.identifier.citation Bucksbarg, J. (2011) "Let the Islands be populated with Americans": Travel-Burlesque and U.S. Imperialism in Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii (unpublished master's thesis). Indiana University South Bend, South Bend, Indiana. en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2022/21151
dc.description Thesis (M.A.)--Indiana University South Bend, 2011. en
dc.description.abstract Previous scholarship exploring Mark Twain and U.S. imperialism runs a wide spectrum from an avoidance of the subject to a critical analysis of even his earliest writings. At times, Twain seems to be reductively celebrated for his humor as entertainment, but not for the complex engagement with national issues that this use of humor often reveals. Conversely, Twain scholars will often recognize that his work is anti-imperial, but usually the texts discussed are those later works criticizing the U.S. involvement in the Philippines or Twain's rejection of European colonialism in Africa. Scholars often point to these obviously anti-imperial texts as the only evidence of Twain's engagement with the discourses of U.S. imperialism. However, Amy Kaplan argues that Twain was both influenced by and engages with U.S. imperialism at the beginning of his career in her article "Imperial Triangles: Mark Twain's Foreign Affairs" (1997). She claims that Letters from Hawaii engages with imperialist and nationalist ideology linking Twain's personal stake as an author with a national stake in expansion to the Hawaiian Islands. Her argument that the foreign space of Hawaii is significant to both Twain as an author, but more importantly as a reflection of the postbellum nation, is compelling because it not only brings attention to Twain's engagement with the discourses of U.S. imperialism at the beginning of his career, but points to the expansionist practices and ideology of the U.S. long before the usually agreed upon imperialist time period of the U.S.'s involvement in the Philippines. Drawing upon and extending Kaplan's suggestions about American identity, I argue that Letters from Hawaii as travel writing, specifically "travel-burlesque," simultaneously supports the imperialist use of foreign space to solve domestic, economic issues and critiques this expansionist culture. In my analysis, I draw upon Franklin Rogers, whose Mark Twain's Burlesque Patterns (1960), suggests that Twain's burlesque is a "humorous imitation and exaggeration of the conventions in plot, characterization, and style peculiar to [travel writing]." Applying and adapting the term travel-burlesque to Twain's Letters furthers both past scholarship and current work on Twain as a quintessential American author, for it allows us to see the complex ways that his travel writing both supports and critiques U.S. imperialist discourses in the mid-nineteenth century. In the first part of this essay, I provide historical context of Hawaii during the second half of the nineteenth century. In the second part, I suggest that Twain's text employs and burlesques the writing conventions of comforting, entertaining, and informing the reader to both support and critique expansion to Hawaii as a way to provide economic opportunity for Americans. However, this expansion is also troubling because it may "corrupt" the fresh paradise of the Islands. The third part focuses on Twain's burlesque and use of the conventions of instructing and comforting the reader about the whaling industry to both reinforce and challenge the naturalization of the use of the foreign space to solve domestic concerns through market expansion. The text suggests that while the whaling industry in Hawaii can provide a solution to the domestic, economic concerns of the U.S., moving the center of the whaling industry suggests the solution to these same domestic concerns could happen within the nation. And finally, in the last section, I claim Twain's "factual" report about the sugar plantation is a place where the text uses the travel writing conventions of instructing and entertaining the reader. Twain seems to champion the use of the "coolie" labor system and uphold the nineteenth century racial hierarchy, but the text also undercuts these claims. Therefore, I argue, Twain both employs and burlesques travel writing conventions and as a result, the text both reinforces and challenges imperial discourses. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Twain, Mark, 1835-1910--Political and social views en
dc.subject Twain, Mark, 1835-1910--Letters from Hawaii en
dc.title "Let the Islands be populated with Americans": Travel-Burlesque and U.S. Imperialism in Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.altmetrics.display true en


Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

Search IUScholarWorks


Advanced Search

Browse

My Account

Statistics