Margaret Fuller and the Rhetoric of Transcendental Nationalism
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In this project, I track the development of Margaret Fuller’s rhetoric of transcendental nationalism within the context of the Roman revolution in 1848. My central purpose is to situate the legacy of Margaret Fuller in the field of rhetorical theory and criticism, as well as to position her dispatches from Italy as the culmination of her work—not an eclipse of her previous writings, but a vital part of any understanding of the woman, the writer, the Transcendentalist, the feminist, the nationalist, the revolutionary that was Margaret Fuller. Furthermore, I argue that Fuller’s dispatches offer a model for a distinctly transcendental form of nationalism through her combined skills, such as critiquing large networks of power, her classical knowledge and familiarity with the language of myth, her growing narrative form and structure, her love of German-Romantic philosophy and literature, her literary nationalist voice, and her deeply-rooted belief in the collective power of the Italian people. Although arriving as a travel-writer abroad, Fuller was also a foreign correspondent for the New-York Tribune with the task of reporting back on any and all happenings. Europe, at the time, was in a tumultuous state, which would soon erupt in open insurrection and full-blown revolution. And Fuller was right in the middle of it. After travelling through England and France, she arrived in Italy and quickly became a convert to the Italian nationalist cause. Although her dispatches begin with descriptions of her encounters with art, nature and culture, once in Italy Fuller adopts a more aggressive rhetorical voice that quickly evolves into a sophisticated rhetoric of transcendental nationalism. This dissertation will explore how Fuller transformed her Transcendental belief in the power of individualism and the art of self-culture into a radical, revolutionary, nationalist rhetorical style that called a nation together based on common origin, character, spirit, and destiny in an effort to pursue a new Democratic Order. This dissertation thus traces the works of Margaret Fuller beginning with her major publications in America, continuing through her dispatches from Europe (1846-1850), and ending with a distinct rhetorical form and style, which I call the rhetoric of transcendental nationalism.
Munson, David N (2018). Margaret Fuller and the Rhetoric of Transcendental Nationalism. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from