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The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition

Description: The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth centuryIgnatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho (1782), Ottobauh Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), and Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)to illustrate how black rhetoric was appropriated by whites to fulfill their own kairotic desires. By examining the rhetorical strategies employed in both white and black rhetorics, the dissertation illustrates how the abolitionists thought the movement was shaped by, and how they were shaping the movement through, kairotic time. While the dissertation contends that the abolition movement was rhetorically designed to provide redemption, and thus salvation, it illustrates that the abolitionist's intent was not merely to save the slave, but to redeem blacks first in the eyes of white Christians by opening blacks to an understanding and acceptance of God. Perhaps more importantly, abolitionists would use black salvation to buy back their own souls and the soul of their nation in the eyes of God in order to regain their own salvation lost in the slave trade. But ironically, they had to appear to be saving others to save themselves. So white abolitionists used the black narratives to persuade their overwhelmingly white audience ...
Date: December 1999
Creator: Evans, Dennis F.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Animals-as-Trope in the Selected Fiction of Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison

Description: In this dissertation, I show how 20th century African-American women writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison utilize animals-as-trope in order to illustrate the writers' humanity and literary vision. In the texts that I have selected, I have found that animals-as-trope functions in two important ways: the first function of animal as trope is a pragmatic one, which serves to express the humanity of African Americans; and the second function of animal tropes in African-American women's fiction is relational and expresses these writers' "ethic of caring" that stems from their folk and womanist world view. Found primarily in slave narratives and in domestic fiction of the 19th and early 20th centuries, pragmatic animal metaphors and/or similes provide direct analogies between the treatment of African-Americans and animals. Here, these writers often engage in rhetoric that challenges pro-slavery apologists, who attempted to disprove the humanity of African-Americans by portraying them as animals fit to be enslaved. Animals, therefore, become the metaphor of both the abolitionist and the slavery apologist for all that is not human. The second function of animals-as-trope in the fiction of African-American women writers goes beyond the pragmatic goal of proving African-Americans's common humanity, even though one could argue that this goal is still present in contemporary African-American fiction. Animals-as-trope also functions to express the African-American woman writer's understanding that 1) all oppressions stem from the same source; 2) that the division between nature/culture is a false onethat a universal connection exists between all living creatures; and 3) that an ethic of caring, or relational epistemology, can be extended to include non-human animals. Twentieth-century African-American writers such as Hurston, Walker, and Morrison participate in what anthropologists term, "neototemism," which is the contemporary view that humankind is part of nature, or a vision that Morrison would ...
Date: August 1999
Creator: Erickson, Stacy M.
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Sensory Tour of Cape Cod: Thoreau's Transcendental Journey to Spiritual Renewal

Description: Predominantly darker than his other works, Cape Cod depicts Henry David Thoreau's interpretation of life as a struggle for survival and a search for salvation in a stark New England setting. Representing Thoreau's greatest test of the goodness of God and nature, the book illustrates the centrality of the subject of death to Thoreau's philosophy of life. Contending that Thoreau's journey to the Cape originated from an intensely personal transcendental impulse connected with his brother's death, this study provides the first in-depth examination of Thoreau's use of the five senses in Cape Cod to reveal both the eccentricities inherent in his relationship with nature and his method of resolving his fears of mortality. Some of the sense impressions in Cape Cod--particularly those that center around human death and those that involve tactile sensations--suggest that Thoreau sometimes tried to master his fears by subconsciously altering painful historical facts or by avoiding the type of sensual contact that aggravated the repressed guilt he suffered from his brother's death. Despite his personal idiosyncrasies, however, Thoreau persisted in his search for truth, and the written record of his journey in Cape Cod documents how his dedication to the transcendental process enabled him to surmount his inner turmoil and reconfirm his intuitive faith. In following this process to spiritual renewal, Thoreau begins with subjective impressions of nature and advances to knowledge of objective realities before ultimately reaching symbolic and universal truth. By analyzing nature's lessons as they evolve from Thoreau's use of his senses, this dissertation shows that Cape Cod, rather than invalidating Thoreau's faith, actually expands his transcendental perspective and so rightfully stands beside Walden as one of the fundamental cornerstones of his canon. In addition, the study proffers new support for previous psychoanalytical interpretations of Thoreau and his writings, reveals heretofore unrecognized historical ...
Date: December 1999
Creator: Talley, Sharon
Partner: UNT Libraries