Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

French

Advisor(s)

Julia Przybos

Committee Members

Peter Consenstein

Bettina Lerner

Julia Przybos

Subject Categories

European History | French and Francophone Language and Literature | Inequality and Stratification | International Relations | Other International and Area Studies | Politics and Social Change | Science and Mathematics Education | United States History | Work, Economy and Organizations

Keywords

Jules Verne, Transatlantic Studies, Utopian Socialism, Utopia, Dystopia, France

Abstract

In my dissertation, I examine visions of the United States in Jules Verne’s (1828-1905) Voyages extraordinaires (1863-1905). Of the sixty-four novels that make up that series, twenty-three, over one-third, feature American characters or take place on American soil. I demonstrate that in his early novels (1863-1886), he presents the United States in an optimistic and utopian light, while in his later novels (1887-1905), his depictions of the United States take on a pessimistic and dystopian aspect. In also showing that Verne had been influenced by utopian socialists Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), Charles Fourier (1772-1837) and Étienne Cabet (1788-1856), I provide the key to understanding the author’s changing visions of the United States. As long as the author is able to reconcile socio-political and socio-economic structures in the United States with the ideas of the utopian socialists, he presents the United States as a utopian model for France. Indeed, the United States of Verne’s early novels resembles the industrialist-led, highly productive and cooperative society for which these philosophers called. When, due to new developments in American capitalism, he later becomes unable to reconcile evolving structures of American society with utopian socialism, his versions of the United States become both dystopian and anti-American.

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