Beyond the Walls-Potentiality Aborted. The Politics of Intersubjective Universalism in Herman Melville’s Clarel

  1. López Peña, Laura
Dirixida por:
  1. Rodrigo Andrés Director

Universidade de defensa: Universitat de Barcelona

Fecha de defensa: 18 de outubro de 2013

  1. Constante González Groba Presidente
  2. Cristina Alsina Rísquez Secretario/a
  3. William Charles Phillips Mockford Vogal
  4. Michael Jonik Vogal
  5. Carme Manuel Vogal

Tipo: Tese

Teseo: 358173 DIALNET lock_openTDX editor


This dissertation argues that Herman Melville’s Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876) is a universalist poem which analyzes the necessity, political potentiality, and challenges of intersubjectivity to the creation of more democratic human relationships beyond the walls of individualism and of traditional communities such as those organized around the notions of nation-state, ‘race’, culture, religious affiliation, or sexual identities. My argument is that, in Clarel, Melville conceives what I have termed ‘intersubjective universalism’ as an ethicopolitical process subjected to the potentialities and limitations of those who may either develop or neutralize it: human beings conditioned by their fears, egocentric behaviors, and ultimately, by their imperfect, limited, human nature. In this respect, Clarel, I claim, gives continuity to Melville’s recurrent exploration of the dangers, beauties, and interlacing of the (im)possibilities of intersubjectivity, universalism, and democracy, always torn between the democratizing potentiality the author located in interpersonal relationships and the bleak realization that human beings might never materialize such democratic project. My dissertation is divided into two chapters, which correspond to the two principal axes of my study: the defense and articulation of the intersubjective universalism I conceive in Melville’s Clarel from a theoretical perspective, on the one hand, and my interpretation of Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land as a universalist poem, representative of Herman Melville’s political literary project, on the other. In order to justify my defense of Clarel as a universalist poem, my dissertation incorporates the points of view of contemporary theorists such as Hannah Arendt, Etienne Balibar, Zygmunt Bauman, Martin Buber, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Ernesto Laclau, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Nancy, Martha Nussbaum, and Linda Zerilli, among others, whose analyses on community, intersubjectivity, interpersonal relationships, global ethics, and universalism, from the perspectives of poststructuralism, sociology, philosophy, or politics, have been enabling to my own work.