"Ghosts" of the Civil War: The "Gothic Realism" of Ambrose Bierce

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dc.contributor.advisor Calder, A en
dc.contributor.author Pellegrino, Anthony en
dc.date.accessioned 2013-03-04T00:33:21Z en
dc.date.issued 2013 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/20121 en
dc.description Full text is available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland only. en
dc.description.abstract Ambrose Bierce’s war stories and testimonials reveal a realistic portrayal of the American Civil War, yet much of his writing is diffused with Gothic conventions. While critics argue whether Bierce was indeed an American Realist or not, the notion of connecting his Gothic style through realism remains mostly uncharted. I propose that through an understanding of “Gothic Realism,” one that defines reality’s ghostly nature, war can create the potential for Gothic expression. A conflict often generates feelings of dread and encapsulates situations that can seem surreal. Bierce would utilize focalization to express a character’s clouded perception from the chaos of battle, war’s absurd nature, and emotional states built upon fear. By doing so, the true “reality” of a war can be given full precedence through a Gothic-like nightmare. The introduction canvasses criticism, theoretical questions, and a general knowledge of both Bierce and the American Civil War. Through an analysis of Bierce’s “What I Saw at Shiloh,” Chapter one explores how the paradoxical qualities of “Gothic realism” are similar to a conflict’s contradicting nature. In Chapter two, discrepancies between what is witnessed and what is written are examined in further detail using two more testimonials: “What Occurred at Franklin” and “Four Days in Dixie.” Chapter three then investigates war’s violent nature upon language and its potential to disrupt a coherent account of reality within two of Bierce’s short stories: “Chickamauga” and “Parker Adderson, Philosopher.” Chapter four observes how words can function as weapons, creating violence and ultimately situations that can be perceived as unreal. Two more of Bierce’s short stories, “An Affair at Coulter’s Notch” and “The Story of a Conscience,” are utilized in this discussion. Finally, the conclusion considers how each analysis can ultimately be related to the uncanny, overlaying the American Civil War in an overall ghostliness. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights Restricted Item. Available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/ en
dc.title "Ghosts" of the Civil War: The "Gothic Realism" of Ambrose Bierce en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Masters en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The Author en
pubs.elements-id 374062 en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2013-03-04 en

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