Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rosalie Murphy Baum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Phillip J. Sipiora, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William H. Scheuerle, Ph.D.


Illumination, American Author, Expatriate, 19th-Century American Fiction, Fin de Siècle


Harold Frederic's The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896) is an important work of American fiction that deserves greater critical attention. My intention in creating a website devoted to Frederic's masterpiece is not only to promote awareness of the novel but also to provide high school and undergraduate students, as well as their teachers, with a resource that will situate The Damnation of Theron Ware within an historical as well as a literary and cultural context. Significant events and discoveries in the fields of science, technology, religion, philosophy, art, and literature shaped Frederic's thinking and writing, particularly the events and characters of The Damnation of Theron Ware. An understanding of this milieu is critical to understanding the issues of the richly complicated novel.

The Damnation of Theron Ware, or Illumination as it is known in England, is the story of a Methodist minister who loses his faith when he makes the acquaintance of a Catholic priest, a post-Darwinian scientist, a New Woman, and a pragmatic con artist. In the end, critics are in disagreement as to the extent of Theron's damnation or illumination. A best seller in the 1890s, The Damnation of Theron Ware was heralded as both "the great American novel" and as "anti-American" in its sentiments.

Conceived as an ongoing project and research tool, my thesis is an online study guide with annotated bibliography of criticism devoted specifically to The Damnation of Theron Ware. The website is divided into six main sections: (1) the home page, which briefly introduces users to the site, identifies the scope of the project and provides links to other pages; (2) "Harold Frederic," which includes a biography of the author, a timeline of significant events during his lifetime, a select bibliography of his writing, and a sampling of interviews with and articles on Frederic as author and critic; (3) "Bibliographical Studies," which lists bibliographies, checklists, catalogues, critical overviews, and online resources; (4) "The Damnation of Theron Ware," which includes a discussion of the contemporaneous critical reception of the novel, an annotated bibliography of criticism in list form and broken down by subject, a bibliography of dissertations and theses, and recommended discussion questions or topics for essays; (5) a "Glossary," which includes terms that may be unfamiliar to students; and (6) "Links of Interest," which directs users to other websites relevant to a study of The Damnation of Theron Ware.