Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation examines nine early historical novels of the Revolution that recover an important yet largely forgotten archive of American cultural history. In the years following the War of 1812 writers from the Revolution’s successor generation reinscribed the history of national origins through narratives of the Revolution that address issues left unresolved by the Revolutionary War and subsequent Constitutional debates; thus, the Revolution itself becomes an important and ubiquitous subject area for writers attempting to situate narratives of national history. These national allegories, consciously constructed as patriotic narratives, unconsciously “bring forth” figurations that represent the official nation’s Others, people excluded by race, class, and gender. Thus, the dissertation addresses these novels both in their dimension as official patriotic narratives of national history and also as narratives that introduce liminal figures that undermine naïve versions of a unified nation. Ultimately, early Revolutionary historical novels express complex and conflicted versions of an American nation as it was constructed in the years leading up to the jubilee celebrations of 1825-26. Among the texts explored here are Samuel Woodworth’s The Champions of Freedom (1816); James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy (1821), The Pilot (1824), and Lionel Lincoln (1825); John Neal’s Seventy-Six (1823), Lydia Maria Child’s The Rebels (1825); Eliza Cushing’s Saratoga (1824) and Yorktown (1826); and Giles Gazer’s (pseud.) Frederic de Algeroy (1825).
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Letter, Joseph John, "Reinscribing the Revolution: Genre and the Problem of National History in Early American Historical Novels" (2006). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 1962.
J. Gerald Kennedy