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"We Only Have Words Against/ POWER SUPERPOWER": Literary Politics and the Subversion of Imperialism in Dos Passos' U.S.A.

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abstract
Despite a history of territorial expansion, "In the United States it is almost heresy to describe the nation as an empire" (Van Alystne 6). Refuting such tendencies for historical revisionism, Dos Passos' U.S.A. portrays an America where both classical and neoteric imperialisms pervade American political, media, and economic systems during the first three decades of the twentieth century. While various foreign entanglements provide America with classical territorial expansion, World War I facilitates America's transition towards a form of neoteric imperialism that necessitates the adoption of imperialistic systems of discipline in the domestic sphere. U.S.A. critiques America's neoteric imperialism by demonstrating how such methods, and specifically the manipulation of discourse, categorize the vast majority of Americans as "non-authentic" Americans who are less "American" than political, industrial, and media elites. However, I argue Dos Passos counters such detrimental public discourse by appropriating imperialistic systems of control for subversion. By exposing the damaging effects of colonial mimicry and exploiting a linguistic interpretation of mimicry through language's iterability, Dos Passos destabilizes imperialistically motivated fictions that oppress America's majority. Therefore, U.S.A. empowers marginalized Americans through recognition, as the trilogy provides a model of ethical subversion that limits the continuation of America's imperialistic discipline and control.
subject
imperialism
John Dos Passos
WWI
contributor
Rommel, Kathleen M. (author)
Maine, Barry (committee chair)
Kuberski, Philip (committee member)
Franco, Dean (committee member)
date
2012-06-12T08:35:38Z (accessioned)
2012-06-12T08:35:38Z (available)
2012 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/37246 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
"We Only Have Words Against/ POWER SUPERPOWER": Literary Politics and the Subversion of Imperialism in Dos Passos' U.S.A.
type
Thesis

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