Transatlantic Italy and Anglo-American Periodical Writing, 1848-1865

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Holmström, Josefin Maria Kristina 

This is a thesis about English and American imaginative identification with Italy in the period 1848–1865, facilitated by and expressed through periodicals and newspapers. At the centre of the thesis sits New England magazine The Atlantic Monthly, which during the Civil War emerged as a vehicle for abolitionist literature, but which also published extensively on Italy. The Risorgimento, the movement that sought Italian unification, triumphed in 1861—the same year that the battle of Fort Sumter signalled the start of the American Civil War that would last until 1865. This thesis investigates the transatlantic relationship between the Risorgimento and the Civil War as it emerged in The Atlantic Monthly, The Springfield Daily Republican and other nineteenth–century publications, and it does so through contextualised readings of Arthur Hugh Clough, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson. These three seemingly very disparate authors are connected by The Atlantic Monthly: Clough’s epistolary poem on the fall of the 1849 Roman Republic, Amours de Voyage, was first published there in 1858; Harriet Beecher Stowe serialised her historical Italian romance Agnes of Sorrento in The Atlantic Monthly between 1861 and 1862; and Dickinson was inspired to write a series of poems on Italy and volcanoes after reading both The Atlantic Monthly and local morning newspaper The Springfield Daily Republican. They are also connected by their fascination with Italy. This thesis argues that nineteenth–century periodicals need to be studied in a transatlantic context: they cannot be read, in the traditional style of Benedict Anderson, as simple affirmations of nationalism and national culture. Another way of putting it is to say that this thesis is about a series of exchanges of influence and thought that get attached to national projects but are in themselves international.

Meer, Sarah
Green, Fiona
Civil War, US, Poetry, Transatlanticism, Italy, UK, Literature, Novel, Risorgimento
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
AHRC CHESS/Cambridge Trusts Helge Ax:son Johnson Foundation