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'At Home in the World': Robert Louis Stevenson's global literary networks

Gordon, Harriet 2019. 'At Home in the World': Robert Louis Stevenson's global literary networks. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

The peripatetic career of Robert Louis Stevenson has long been a subject of interest for scholars, with interest growing even since the conception of this study. Various Stevenson scholars have also noted the author’s exploration of globalization and modernity, as it manifested in the late nineteenth century. This thesis will link these two areas of interest to explore Stevenson’s engagement with the growing mobility of the late nineteenth century. Considering his lesser-known works, many of which have received little critical attention, this study will further distinguish itself from previous work on the subject by adopting a literary geographical approach; in particular I am reading Stevenson’s works through the cultural geographical concept of mobility. Examining his European, American and Pacific travel writing, as well as the little-known novel The Wrecker, I argue that Stevenson is acutely aware of and interested in the growing and changing mobility of the time, exploring in his literary works the developments in transport driving this increased movement of people, and considering the effects on the people and places he encounters. In the final chapter I argue that The Wrecker is the culmination of Stevenson’s varied experiences overseas, where he reflects not on the changes of place, but on how the developments in mobility have altered the nature of time and space in an increasingly connected world system. This concern with mobility is of course linked to his own itinerancy. As arguably the first ‘global’ author, Stevenson wrote and published from America and the Pacific, employing the very networks of transport and communication he writes about to enable his cross-continental publishing practices. Responding to calls to widen the scope of such studies, I extend the literary geographical approach with extensive use of Stevenson’s correspondence and that of his literary network. Alongside textual analysis, I will examine the production geographies and histories of his works, considering not only the influence of Stevenson’s itinerancy on the literary content, but also on the production and eventual reception of his writing. I argue that this complementary, combined approach allows for greater insight into Stevenson life and works, that the ideas and meanings in these texts are intimately bound up with their geographic histories of production. The overarching aim of this thesis, then, is to examine the mobility inherent in Stevenson’s works, considering both the spaces of the texts and the texts, themselves, in space.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Funders: AHRC (SWW-DTP)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 July 2019
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2019 11:42
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/124418

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