The Demon of the Continent: Indians and the Shaping of American Literature

The Demon of the Continent: Indians and the Shaping of American Literature

by Joshua David Bellin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0812217489

ISBN-13: 9780812217483

Pub. Date: 10/28/2000

Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

In recent years, the study and teaching of Native American oral and written art have flourished. During the same period, there has been a growing recognition among historians, anthropologists, and ethnohistorians that Indians must be seen not as the voiceless, nameless, faceless Other but as people who had a powerful impact on the historical development of the

Overview

In recent years, the study and teaching of Native American oral and written art have flourished. During the same period, there has been a growing recognition among historians, anthropologists, and ethnohistorians that Indians must be seen not as the voiceless, nameless, faceless Other but as people who had a powerful impact on the historical development of the United States. Literary critics, however, have continued to overlook Indians as determinants of American—rather than specifically Native American—literature. The notion that the presence of Indian peoples shaped American literature as a whole remains unexplored.

In The Demon of the Continent, Joshua David Bellin probes the complex interrelationships among Native American and Euro-American cultures and literatures from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. He asserts that cultural contact is at the heart of American literature. For Bellin, previous studies of Indians in American literature have focused largely on the images Euro-American writers constructed of indigenous peoples, and have thereby only perpetuated those images. Unlike authors of those earlier studies, Bellin refuses to reduce Indians to static antagonists or fodder for a Euro-American imagination.

Drawing on works such as Henry David Thoreau's Walden, William Apess' A Son of the Forest, and little known works such as colonial Indian conversion narratives, he explores the ways in which these texts reflect and shape the intercultural world from which they arose. In doing so, Bellin reaches surprising conclusions: that Walden addresses economic clashes and partnerships between Indians and whites; that William Bartram's Travels encodes competing and interpenetrating systems of Indian and white landholding; that Catherine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie enacts the antebellum drama of Indian conversion; that James Fenimore Cooper and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow struggled with Indian authors such as George Copway and David Cusick for physical, ideological, and literary control of the nation.

The Demon of the Continent proves Indians to be actors in the dynamic processes in which America and its literature are inescapably embedded. Shifting the focus from textual images to the sites of material, ideological, linguistic, and aesthetic interaction between peoples, Bellin reenvisions American literature as the product of contact, conflict, accommodation, and interchange.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812217483
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2000
Series:
Literature/Cultural Studies Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.64(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction1
1.Indian Conversions14
2.The Charm of the Indian39
3.Radical Faiths71
Interlude98
4.Stories of the Land106
5.Mind out of Time131
6.Myth and the State154
7.Traditional Histories183
Conclusion208
Notes211
Index259
Acknowledgments273

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >