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The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930$
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Kate Flint

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691203188

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691203188.001.0001

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Sentiment and Anger: British Women Writers and Native Americans

Sentiment and Anger: British Women Writers and Native Americans

(p.86) Chapter Four Sentiment and Anger: British Women Writers and Native Americans
The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930

Kate Flint

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses the portrayal of Native Americans by British women writers. This treatment was often far more radical, and far more angry—whether focusing on racial issues or on imperial ambitions in general—than that found in the work of many male authors. Until the midcentury at least, the cultural work performed by those women writers who took Indians as their subject oscillated between mourning their imminent and inevitable demise and protesting against the specific political and racist attitudes that lay behind their treatment in America. After the middle of the century, although women's appropriation of the figure of the Indian occurred less frequently within serious imaginative writing, those poets who engaged with these native peoples showed an increasing tendency to extrapolate from the American context and turn their humanitarian gaze toward the workings of the British Empire itself. Women seem to have been particularly drawn to Indians as a poetic topic, both finding them a suitable object on which to expend the fashionable literary currency of sentimental compassion and, it has been argued, seeing them, in their apparent disempowerment and marginalization, as an analogue for their own condition as women.

Keywords:   Native Americans, British women writers, Indians, racist attitudes, racism, America, imaginative writing, British Empire, disempowerment, marginalization

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