An analysis of the biographical basis for the political, economic, social and literary theories of William Dean Howells
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Robert Harper
As a result of a study of some of Howells' social novels, I became interested in the question of whether there might be an autobiographical basis for his social-democratic options, as expressed in his utopian novels of the 1890's. An investigation of the autobiographical works revealed evidence that Howells had developed through personal experiences an emotional attraction to the same socio-democratic values articulated philosophically in the utopian novels. This interest in the relationship between Howells' temperament and theories, as expressed in the 1890's, led me to extend my research to works and personal history belonging to periods of his life both before and after this time. It appeared reasonable to hypothesize that Howells developed a specific temperamental need for a system of equality. I therefore undertook a much more thorough study, in which I organized evidence from autobiographies, letters, poetry, etc., with a view toward determining the extent to which there is a relationship between personality and theory. More specifically, I attempted to narrow this study by confining it to the investigation of Howells' concern with human equality--a concern which constantly appears in his work, as well as in his personal life. The focus, then, has been to determine the extent to which Howells' concern with human equality is a key to literary theory, literary practice, political theory, and social relations.
Moldenhauer, Mary Lee, "An analysis of the biographical basis for the political, economic, social and literary theories of William Dean Howells" (1965). Student Work. 3240.
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A Thesis Presented to the Department of English and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1965 Mary Lee Moldenhauer.