Furuya, Kohei (2015-05). Translation and Nation: The Question of Identity in the American Renaissance. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This dissertation investigates the significance of translation in the making of American national literature. Transition has played a central role in the formation of American linguistic, literary, cultural, and national identity. The authors of the American Renaissance were multilingual, involved in the cultural task of translation in many different ways. By the importance of translation has been little examined in American literary scholarship, the condition of which has been exclusively monolingual. This study makes clear the following points. First, translation served as an important agency in the building of American national language, literature, and culture. Second, the conception of translation as a means for domesticating foreign influences in antebellum American literary culture was itself a translation of a traditionally European idea of translation since the Renaissance, and more specifically, of the modern German concept of it. Third, despite its ethnocentric, nationalistic, and imperialistic tendency, translation sometimes complicated the identity-formation process. The American Renaissance writers worked in the complex international culture of translation in an age of world literature, a nationalist-cosmopolitan concept that Goethe promoted in the early nineteenth century. Those American authors' texts often take part in and sometimes come up against the violence of translation, which obliterates the marks of otherness in foreign languages and cultures. To elucidate these points, this dissertation focuses mainly on the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville, each of whom embodies some unique characteristics of the American theories and practices of literary and cultural translation in antebellum America.

publication date

  • May 2015