Date of Award

Spring 1998

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

David H Watters


The six novels and various other fiction pieces Charles Brockden Brown wrote between 1799 and 1801 coherently demonstrate the operation and effect of literary and artistic representation in early Republican America.

In original close readings of Arthur Mervyn, Edgar Huntly, Ormond, and several other works, this dissertation identifies transactional bond and describes how Brown charted the establishment of the public and private individual self through transactional bond in three specific arenas: relationships between the developing self and written, visual, or reported representation; relationships between master/mentors and apprentices; relationships among women.

Bonds that begin, operate, and dissolve between male characters are exercises in constructing young Republican manhood. Through individual young male's experiences, Brown describes a process for certifying male suffrage. Through the mentor/protege model, Brown makes explicit the questions that surround his society's structuring of that autonomous citizen-self. Female bonds work toward impressing a female self into the useful mold of the good Republican wife/mother. Transactional bonds in Brown's novels are explorations of gender, authority, and autonomy, complicated by the influence of written or visual gesture.

Brown actuates the competition among those forces by presenting explicitly visual "word portraits" in the narratives, employing techniques in text that parallel the directly visual techniques in paint of portraitists of the post-Revolutionary era.