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Aristocratic Encounters: European Travelers and North American Indians

Overview

Aristocratic Encounters relates how an aristocratic discourse on American Indians took shape in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Titled and educated French and German visitors to North America, with the background of the French Revolution in mind, developed a new belief in their affinity with the warrior elites of Indian societies, whom they viewed as fellow aristocrats. The book includes chapters on major figures, such as Chateaubriand and Tocqueville, and on lesser, often instructive, ...

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Overview

Aristocratic Encounters relates how an aristocratic discourse on American Indians took shape in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Titled and educated French and German visitors to North America, with the background of the French Revolution in mind, developed a new belief in their affinity with the warrior elites of Indian societies, whom they viewed as fellow aristocrats. The book includes chapters on major figures, such as Chateaubriand and Tocqueville, and on lesser, often instructive, travelers. The book contributes to a burgeoning transatlantic, even transnational, form of historical writing, crossing national boundaries to ask how Europeans understood cultures vastly different from their own.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...this smoothly written, carefully constructed book is of interest to Indian historians. By broadening perspectives beyond American shores on the processes by which non-Indians have historically reinterpreted the meaning of Indianness, Liebersohn makes a contribution to a vital area of scholarship." American Indian Quarterly

"[Liebersohn's] book will interest all students of Romanticism, travel writing, and modernism. Evocative and gracefully written, Aristocratic Encounters brings to life the diverse culture of North American Indians and the images and categories through which European travelers tended to interpret that culture." Journal of Modern History

"...Aristocratic Encounters has many strong suits. It is clearly written and lacks jargon. It also possesses a creative structure." June Namias, The Journal of American History

"...the significance of this work for understanding the ways that nineteenth-century French and German elites perceived themselves and the ways that they employed symbols of the New World to demonstrate their social status in a new Europe is exceptional." The Historian

"Aristocratic Encounters is a valuable contribution to the history of travel writing and its relation to empire." Itinerario

"Harry Liebersohn has provided a compact, concise addition to the burgeoning literature on European contact with non-Europeans and European constructions of the 'other'...this book is truly European in its authorship and approach. The entire book, indeed, is a series of useful summaries of historical knowledge to date...admirable book." American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521640909
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Series: New Approaches to the Americas Series
  • Pages: 179
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. From Neoclassicism to Romanticism: France and American Indians 1682–1815; 1. Indians in the French Enlightenment; 2. Chateaubriand and the fiction of Native Aristocrats; Part II. Ending a Tradition: The French Romantic Travelers, 1815–48; 3. Critics and nostalgics; 4. Tocqueville and the sociology of native aristocrats; Part III. Founding a Tradition: The German Romantic Travelers: 5. Immigrants and educated observers; 6. Maximilian and the ethnography of Native Aristocrats; Epilogue: a world of new aristocrats.

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