Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

English Language and Literatures

Sub-Department

English

First Advisor

Dassow Walls, Laura

Abstract

'A More Perfect Indian Wisdom' radically re-envisions the work of Henry D. Thoreau while also examining additional nineteenth-century authors to investigate the relationship between transcultural performance, exploration, and literature in the United States during the antebellum period. In a nation simultaneously freeing itself from colonial influence yet perpetuating similar nationalistic tendencies in order to territorialize the uncharted West, revolutionary authors such as Herman Melville, Susan Fenimore Cooper and Margaret Fuller construct narratives that overturn hegemonic paradigms and participate in a culture of dissent that reconceives U.S. American identity in a cosmopolitan sense. Henry D. Thoreau functions as a central figure in this culture of dissent because he most effectively transcends the cultural paradigms of oppression holistically, calibrating his sense of ethical rectitude via sympathy with his human and non-human neighbors.

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