Waves of Futurity, Monstrous Attachments: American Literary Representations of Affect, Place, and Otherness (1797-1901)
The Thoreau Society
Award Amount: $500
Jillmarie Murphy, assistant professor of English, is the recipient of the Thoreau Society Short-Term Research Fellowship. This fellowship provides support for travel and research to candidates who will use the Thoreau Society Collections housed at the Thoreau Institute.
In her current project, Waves of Futurity, Monstrous Attachments: American Literary Representations of Affect, Place, and Otherness (1797-1901), Professor Murphy argues that in the literature under consideration the characters’ attachment needs illustrate the important role human-to-human and human-to-place bonding occupies in crafting a national identity. Humanistic geographer Yi-Fu Tuan claims that “Place is security, space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other” (Space and Place 3). These notions of security and freedom underpin her discussion as she investigates how writers in the early American republic help construct modernity as they restructure representations of interpersonal and place attachments, which are subsequently reimagined, reconfigured, and sometimes even rejected by writers in the long nineteenth century. Although there have been numerous eco-critical studies of and psychoanalytic approaches to American literature, to date no one has undertaken an extended treatment of literature that links these two theoretical approaches of interpersonal and place attachment.
On publication, Waves of Futurity, Monstrous Attachments promises to attract an unusually broad audience consisting of literary, historical, sociological, and psychoanalytic critics as well as general readers with an interest in the psychosocial elements of American literature. While all of the literary figures under consideration are in fact continually contemporary in an intense and fundamental sense, Thoreau—at once unsettling and inspirational—functions as a pivotal figure in this study. Walden along with “Walking” and Thoreau’s correspondence and journal writings invite constant rereadings and recontextualizations, a reification of attachments to emphasize the important historical and private moments that structured and continue to structure an American national identity. Waves of Futurity, Monstrous Attachments gestures toward those future readers who, in a decidedly Thoreauvian fashion, seek to explore new fields and new approaches in order to understand the underlying human motivations that continually inspire the American imagination.