Life at the Davis Hotel: A Contextual Study for a Work of Fiction.

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Title: Life at the Davis Hotel: A Contextual Study for a Work of Fiction.
Author: Currin, Derek Thomas
Advisors: Lucinda H. MacKethan, Committee Chair
Abstract: Currin, Derek T. Life at the Davis Hotel: A Contextual Study for a Proposed Work of Fiction. (Under the direction of Lucinda H. MacKethan.) This work is an outgrowth of a study in the ?constructedness of slavery.? It is not surprising that many novelists have been concerned with the portrayal of American slave life. The fictional narrative provides an appropriate forum for an investigation of slavery. The controversial issues surrounding slavery provide the author with and irresistible opportunity to arouse and persuade the sensibilities of the reader. By definition, fiction is considered narrative writing drawn from the mind's eye; however, because the imagination is not self-perpetuating, it must be stimulated by events of the outside world. All literature is written upon the occasion of some event?or perhaps more precisely, it is born in the spirit of some happening. In the case of Life at the Davis Hotel: A Contextual Study for a Proposed Work of Fiction, the novelist considers the possibilities for writing a work of fiction based upon historical fact. In the mid to late 19th century, a series of resort hotels emerged upon the North Carolina landscape in the township of Kittrell, North Carolina. According to historical accounts, there are two hotels of significance: The Kittrell Springs Hotel and The Davis Hotel, otherwise known as the ?Glass House.? This study explores the possibility of using The Davis Hotel as the primary setting for a work of antebellum fiction. Chapter one constructs and develops the fictional biography of William Franklin Davis, the novel?s main character. It explores critical aspects of the character?s early life, giving the novelist a view of the young man?s parental upbringing, education, and personal motivations. This chapter also introduces and develops the character of frontiersman Beck Warren, a secondary but crucial character in the story?s development. Chapter two develops the central story line of Life at The Davis Hotel. As a young man Davis goes south with Beck Warren on a fur-trading venture, where he meets Ella Catlin, daughter of The Kittrell Springs Hotel proprietor Hugh Catlin. The young couple fall in love, and they are soon married much to the chagrin of Ella?s parents who harbor deep resentment for Northerners. As a wedding present, Davis purchases and remodels a nearby existing hotel for his bride, and it rightfully becomes known as the elegant Davis Hotel. Acquisition of the hotel immediately places the young entrepreneur at odds with his father-in-law who sees the purchase in terms of competition. Young William?s initiation into marriage and life in the South is shocking; for as Ella insists upon using slave labor to run the hotel, he half-heartedly puts aside his anti-slavery views and reluctantly conforms to the ?vile? ways of the South. Chapter three explores the role of 19th century American women by looking specifically at the life of two historic females: Malvina Shanklin Harlan and Frances Anne Kemble.
Date: 2009-11-10
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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