National Consciousness in Washington Irving's Western Writings of the 1830s

Title
National Consciousness in Washington Irving's Western Writings of the 1830s
Author(s)
정진만
Keywords
Washington Irving; travel narrative; the West; pathfinder; Jacksonian democracy; progress
Issue Date
201208
Publisher
19세기영어권문학회
Citation
19세기 영어권 문학, v.16, no.2, pp.211 - 232
Abstract
This essay aims to explore the shaping of national consciousness in Washington Irving's three western travel narratives−A Tour on the Prairies (1835), Astoria (1836), and The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837). Irving's western writings are highly involved with his contemporary agenda or needs to forge a national identity, through his portrayals of American pathfinders, a term indicating hunters, trappers, and traders lively engaged in the nation's fur business in the Western wilderness. In his three Western narratives, Irving “recreated” the class of mountain men and others leading self-dependent and self-reliant lives on the frontier as exemplars of the new republic's socio-political value of Jacksonian democracy, celebrating their freedom and pitting them against European (especially British) fur trappers. The pathfinders have a symbolic significance in that the images and meanings implicit in Irving's representations work as a discourse strengthening American identity and even pride in relation to Europeans, while discouraging them from identifying themselves with Europeans or European aristocracy. Additionally, in a biblical trope the pathfinders are described as westering pilgrims looking for the Promised land, which leads the American reading public to identify itself as a chosen people of progress. In order to do justice to Irving's western travel writings of the 1830s, they should be understood in terms of a national literature serving to shape American selfhood.
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/YU.REPOSITORY/27461
ISSN
1598-3269
Appears in Collections:
문과대학 > 영어영문학과 > Articles
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