Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Michael Cody

Committee Members

Jesse Graves, Scott Honeycutt


During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many British poets attempted to establish a universal poetic image in the European nightingale, often viewing it as a muse or contemporary artist. This use of the songster became so prevalent that it was adopted, along with other conventions, for use in the United States. Yet, despite the efforts of both British and American poets, this imperialized songbird would ultimately fail in America, as the nightingale is not indigenous to the United States. The failure of this nightingale image, I contend, is reflective of the growing need to establish a national identity in nineteenth-century American literature, separate from British convention. In this process of cultural exploration, I believe the northern mockingbird becomes the replacement for the nightingale, and is developed as a distinctly American image through the poetry of Maurice Thompson, Walt Whitman, and others, exemplifying traits of the country through its charismatic song and personality

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.