Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Kathleen Kane

Commitee Members

Marton Marko, Robert Baker


Ahab, Bulkington, Capitalism, Globalization, Immanuel Wallerstein, Melville, Moby-Dick, Whales, Whaling


University of Montana


Reading Moby-Dick; or, the Whale (1851), this study examines literary arguments regarding Melville’s capacity to appear prophetic through his written works in his predictions of the vast empire that America would one day become and the strategies which the country would employ to do so. In my introduction I assert that Melville is not a “Prophet,” but rather, he is a keenly analytical observer of the world around him as he recognized in America patterns of imperialism: structures he charted in his global voyages as a merchant and then a whaler. In his observations, he saw that America was not merely concerned with continental expansion, but angling for expansion on a global scale. Utilizing Immanuel Wallerstein’s seminal text on the subject of the globalized economic system, World Systems Analysis (2004), I identify the concepts of the system as they are presented by Wallerstein and described by Melville in Moby-Dick. In Chapter One I outline and explain the essential aspects of the global economic system that Wallerstein details in his treatise on the subject, which have only in the mid-twentieth century garnered the serious attention of academic and professional study. Chapter Two chronicles Melville’s seemingly apparent understanding of the particulars of this system in Moby-Dick, with particular attention focused on Chapter Ninety Nine, “The Doubloon”. Finally, my third chapter concludes the thesis with a coda, wherein I describe more in depth the particulars of Melville’s upbringing in a family that struggled financially and his worldly experiences, factors which I believe led to his specific attention given to the global economic system and America’s role within it.



© Copyright 2012 Zachary Michael Radford