Date of Award

Spring 1999

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Brigitte Bailey


Domestic Visions reexamines the tradition of the urban novel in America by reading the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Theodore Dreiser, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Edith Wharton, Abraham Cahan and Anzia Yezierska within the historical and cultural contexts of an evolving urban consumer culture. Bringing together not only a wide range of canonical and non-canonical texts, but also an analysis of America's shifting domestic ideals over the last half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this study traces the impact of a new spectacular urban public culture on both the private realm and those who are marginalized. As it illuminates the intersections between public and private realms of experience as well as the intersections between dominant and marginalized cultures, Domestic Visions complicates traditional approaches to urban literature. Analyzing canonical works such as The Blithedale Romance and Sister Carrie alongside such lesser known works as The Sport of the Gods and Bread Givers, this study highlights how urban novelists across the varied spectrum of gender, race, ethnicity and class shared a certain vision of America's new urban culture, and yet diverged in that vision in important and oftentimes surprising ways.