Extimacy of the Primitivized Others:Defining the American Self in Irving and Catlin’s Western Travel Narratives

Title
Extimacy of the Primitivized Others:Defining the American Self in Irving and Catlin’s Western Travel Narratives
Author(s)
정진만
Keywords
travel narrative; Irving; Catlin; noble savage; sublime; distantiation; pleasure principle; American identity
Issue Date
201312
Publisher
한국비평이론학회
Citation
비평과이론, v.18, no.2, pp.209 - 233
Abstract
This essay aims to investigate the shaping of American national identity within travel narratives written by Washington Irving and George Catlin. American identity invention is seen in Irving and Catlin’s Western travel narratives romantically primitivizing the American landscape and Native Americans. Their narratives exemplify that, in the first-half of the nineteenth century, the widespread trope of the “Noble Savage” and “distantiation” working in the Burkean aesthetics of the sublime were used as ideological frames for viewing “Others.” These romantic trope and aesthetic device are crucial in defining the American “self” by making the white Americans’ shift of association/dissociation with their primitivized Others possible. Through the romantic presentation of untamed nature and the Noble Savage, who is supposed to be free and simple, Irving and Catlin attempted to foreground national characteristics such as freedom and simplicity, and their attempts also encouraged the reading public to eschew the vices of European civilization. However, Native Americans and nature often engendered feelings of fear as well, for they were thought of as untamed, excessive, and violent. Distantiation, a crucial precondition of the aesthetic feeling of the sublime, provided an escape from the threatening aspect of primitivized Others. Aside from spatial distantiation, the trope of describing nature and Native Americans as vestige of antiquity was also employed, and these strategies of distantiation—in terms of space and time—permitted white Americans to reshape their identity as a civilized, youthful, and progressive people, while simultaneously maintaining their virtues of freedom and simplicity intact.
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/YU.REPOSITORY/27685
ISSN
1598-9089
Appears in Collections:
문과대학 > 영어영문학과 > Articles
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