Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

John Funchion

Second Committee Member

Joel Nickels

Third Committee Member

Tim Watson

Fourth Committee Member

Colleen Lye


This study examines literary contestations of an imperial discourse I call Pacific Imminence, a ruse of American exceptionalism that framed U.S. Pacific ascendancy as an impending development inaugurating global economic prosperity and a harmonious community of humankind. Through the continental imaginary of Manifest Destiny, most Americanist scholarship has viewed the Pacific as a peripheral site of empire-building in the long nineteenth century. By contrast, I argue that the Pacific uniquely catalyzed a globalist re-branding of U.S. imperialism that American and East Asian writers resisted through fictional forms. Such works undercut Pacific imminence by narrativizing the persistence of colonial antagonisms. In the first two chapters, I examine the Pacific fictions of James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville, tracing the roots of Pacific imminence to the antebellum era. In the third and fourth chapters, I analyze counter-narratives of fraught cosmopolitanism in the work of Filipino author José Rizal and Chinese-American author Sui Sin Far (Edith Maude Eaton).


American Literature; U.S. Imperialism; Cosmopolitanism; Transnational Studies; Ethnic Studies; Asia

Available for download on Thursday, April 30, 2020