Dissertation
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Border Crossing

Author XiangZuoNi
Tutor ZhuGang
School Nanjing University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Cormac McCarthy Western American fiction border crossing Americanness transnationality
CLC I712.074
Type PhD thesis
Year 2013
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McCarthy Studies focuses on either Americanness or transnationality of his Western fiction. Positioning his Western fiction within the broad context of American literature and culture, most critics have studied his representation of the history of the American West, his vision of the American Western landscape, his portrayal of characters, and his illumination and deconstruction of American myths, which reinforces to an extent the isolated view of the US literary study by excluding anything un-American. Repositioning McCarthy in post-nationalist American studies, a few critics have studied how his Western fiction is involved with Mexico and the Southwest borderlands, which though less insular and more internationalist runs the risk of ignoring the uses to which various nationalisms are still put in literary studies.This dissertation attempts to go a step further to disclose the interconnection between Americanness and transnationality in McCarthy’s six Western novels by studying how he participates in yet transgresses the genre of American Western fiction through invoking and transforming its staple elements to set up co-ordinations between these two elements in the context of transnational interactions of the US-Mexican borderlands from around the US-Mexican war to the post-apocalyptic future. Working at the intersection of literary studies and transnational American studies, this dissertation analyzes McCarthy’s re-conception of the West, deconstruction of the racial/cultural integrity of his characters, and deployment of dual borders, both physical and metaphorical. McCarthy reconceives the West as an arena where conflicting cultures intersect and influence each other instead of as a place of instituting an essentialized American identity. He deconstructs the racial/cultural integrity of the hero by juxtaposing its subjectivity with that of the Other in a dialogic relationship. Taking border crossing as a central point for artistic and ideological orientation, he has undergone an enormous revolution in the configuration of Americanness in Western American fiction by setting up co-ordinations between its two aspects:the American man for himself alone and the American man in its relationality to the Other. This disintegration of the racial/cultural integrity that an individual has possessed in traditional Western American fiction serves as a necessary preparatory step toward a transcendent humanism embodied in a higher level of human community that transcends borders of race, culture, and nation.In conclusion, McCarthy’s participation in and transgression of the genre of Western American fiction not only speaks to the utility and richness of the genre but also illustrates his originality as well as ability to respond to changes in American culture. This model of interpretation has portrayed McCarthy as a transnational writer and his Western fiction as transnational fiction because he is concerned with the nature of border despite the fact that he is not ethnic or diasporic. It suggests that the interpretive framework of transnational cultural studies has displayed great scholarly potential, has been transformed from a fashionable slogan to scholarly ethos, and can therefore be expanded in its scope of application to transnational literature in general.

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