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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Nick Bromell

Second Advisor

Britt Rusert

Third Advisor

Rachel Mordecai

Fourth Advisor

Hoang Gia Phan

Subject Categories

American Art and Architecture | American Literature | Literature in English, North America | Other American Studies | United States History


On Being Dispersed revisits the period of the “American Renaissance” (an era circa 1850 purported to have consolidated the nation around a series of literary “masterpieces”) to recover the lesser-known history of being dispersed. Dispersal is described with respect to diaspora, migration, dispossession, removal, settler colonialism, and political exodus, yet my primary aim is to show that being dispersed is as much a historical condition as a set of poetic practices: the arguments, imaginaries, and constraints through which its practitioners opened up a variety of unsettling, abolitionist ways of being and becoming. These practices are referred to first and foremost as the poetics of dehiscence, and special attention is paid to that word’s contemporary meaning as an opening in a plant allowing seeds to disperse as well as a gaping wound that is vulnerable to infection. Dehiscence is both a feature of nineteenth-century culture as well as a term of analysis that attends to the painful effects of U.S. history and the social possibilities of another.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.