LITR 5431 Seminar in American Literature: Romanticism

lecture notes

Memorial to historic Uncas (1588-1683),
ally of English in King Philip's War (1675-6);
monument raised 1833, 1842 on Mohegan
burial ground in present Norwich, Connecticut



Plays new cultural riffs on gothic color scheme of light and dark +- red, yellow

gothic color scheme




Western Civilization moral metaphysics

white as innocence, purity

black or darkness as evil, decay

blood? anger?

races of early North America

white people (European Americans); Alice, Duncan Heyward, Hawkeye

black people (African Americans)
Cora as "tragic mulatto"

the "red man" (American Indians);
Uncas, Chingachgook; Magua?



fates of characters, resolutions re "couples" + message about ethnicity and gender in USA


Cora and Uncas

Heyward and Alice

Hawkeye and Chingachgook (read Lawrence handout)  inter-racial buddies

+ Magua, David Gamut


Cooper as classic / popular 17.7-9; terrorist?



correspondence: 5.8

romance: 5.13 (honor), 8.51; chs. 11-12, 13.19, 32.57, 32.70-1, 33.16

gothic and sublime: 5.29, 5.32, 6.12, 9.3 American Indians: 6.4, 11.10, 12.16 Cora + Uncas?: 6.16, 8.37 (Cora), 8.51 > 16.11, 32.57, 33.15-16

Romantic nature: 12.25

Wilderness gothic: 5.8, 5.29, 13.5-13.9, 13.33;






Sentimental Stereotype

Sleepy Hollow 33, 46

Captivity of Mary Rowlandson 1.1a



6.4 Uncas as statue, uncorrupted

13.36 children of the woods

17.11 more than 2000 raving savages, drinking blood (cf. sentimental stereotypes)

17.16 Gamut interprets as "jubilee of devils"






American Indian texts:

1.What alternative realities or narratives emerge from texts representing repressed or marginalized voices? What mix of Romantic ideals & real conditions? (classic, popular, representative literature)

2. American dominant culture often wishes to romanticize the American Indian as either saint or sinner, God or dog, wise man close to nature or drunken Indian-giver. What different realities emerge when Indians speak (more or less) with their own voice?

Cherokee Memorials

[3] opposite of transcendence-narrative of romance

[4] Brothers

relinquish our possessions

5] The land on which we stand, we have received as an inheritance from our fathers, who possessed it from time immemorial, as a gift from our common father in heaven.

[6]  the faith and pledge of the U. States, repeated over and over again, in treaties made at various times. By these treaties our rights as a separate people are distinctly acknowledged

These governments perfectly understood our rights—our right to the country, and our right to self government.

[7] we cannot consent to abandon it, for another far inferior, and which holds out to us no inducements.

divest them of their liberty and country, and you sink them in degradation, and put a check, if not a final stop, to their present progress in the arts of civilized life, and in the knowledge of the Christian religion.

10 preserve us from ruin and extinction.

12 whether the power of self Government abided in the Cherokee Nation at the discovery of America, three hundred and thirty seven years ago, and whether it was in any manner effected or destroyed by the Charters of European Potentates?

13 how our right to self Government was effected and destroyed, by the Declaration of Independence

14 always written by the commissioners on the part of the United States, for obvious reason, as the Cherokees were unacquainted with letters

15 The Constitution of the United States, (article 6) contains these words; "all Treaties made under the  authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land," and the "Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the laws or constitution of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."  The sacredness of Treaties made under the authority of the United States are paramount and Supreme, stronger than the laws and constitution of any state.

20 This resort to us is a last one, and nothing short of the threatening evils and dangers that beset us could have forced it upon the Nation.  But it is a right we surely have



Apess, Looking Glass

1 God who is the maker and preserver both of the white man and the Indian, whose abilities are the same, and who are to be judged by one God, who will show no favor to outward appearances

2 The most mean, abject, miserable race of beings in the world—a complete place of prodigality and prostitution.

3 the females are left without protection, and are seduced by white men, and are finally left to be common prostitutes for them, and to be destroyed by that burning, fiery curse, that has swept millions, both of red and white men, into the grave with sorrow and disgrace—Rum.

3 their most sensible and active men are absent at sea

3 Their land is in common stock, and they have nothing to make them enterprising.

4 go upon Indian lands and cut and carry off their most valuable timber,

5-6 [If you think so well of us, why not treat us as though you do]

6 Perhaps some unholy, unprincipled men would cry out, the skin was not good enough; but stop friends—I am not talking about the skin, but about principles.

8 same unfeeling, self-esteemed characters pretend to take the skin as a pretext to keep us from our unalienable and lawful rights? I would ask you if you would like to be disfranchised from all your rights, merely because your skin is white, and for no other crime? I'll venture to say, these very characters who hold the skin to be such a barrier in the way, would be the first to cry out, injustice! awful injustice!

9 If black or red skins, or any other skin of color is disgraceful to God, it appears that he [Jehovah / God / Creator] has disgraced himself a great deal—for he has made fifteen colored people to one white, and placed them here upon this earth.

10 have you the folly to think that the white man, being one in fifteen or sixteen, are the only beloved images of God?

[11] Now suppose these skins were put together, and each skin had its national crimes written upon it—which skin do you think would have the greatest? I will ask one question more. Can you charge the Indians with robbing a nation almost of their whole Continent, and murdering their women and children, and then depriving the remainder of their lawful rights, that nature and God require them to have? And to cap the climax, rob another nation [African Americans] to till their grounds, and welter out their days under the lash with hunger and fatigue under the scorching rays of a burning sun?

[14] Did you ever hear or read of Christ teaching his disciples that they ought to despise one because his skin was different from theirs? Jesus Christ being a Jew, and those of his Apostles certainly were not whites

[18] Perhaps you will say that if we admit you to all of these privileges you will want more. I expect that I can guess what that is—Why, say you, there would be intermarriages. How that would be I am not able to say—and if it should be, it would be nothing strange or new to me; for I can assure you that I know a great many that have intermarried, both of the whites and the Indians—and many are their sons and daughters

19  Now if the Lord Jesus Christ, who is counted by all to be a Jew, and it is well known that the Jews are a colored people, especially those living in the East, where Christ was born—and if he should appear amongst us, would he not be shut out of doors by many, very quickly? and by those too, who profess religion?




1.4 pictorial

1.6 historical fiction

1.7 George Washington

1.8 captivity narrative cf. RVW 48

1.8-1.9 shift from history to fiction > 1.13 two females [+ cinematic]

1.17 Indian runner + Byronic marker

1.19 two females

1.21 light-dark + sublime  > 2.12


2.2 romantic rhetoric in dialogue

2.3 plot outrage

2.5 preview of Magua's past

2.12 skin is dark

2.13 dark and tangled pathway [wilderness gothic]

2.21 secret path

2.29 cf. Ichabod and forest

2.30 suspense + gothic forest







Historic Uncas in Of Plymouth Plantation 28.7

5.8 arches of the forest

6.3 romantic wildness

6.4 Uncas as statue, uncorrupted

6.7 the shade of his skin? > 6.8 embarrassed silence

6.12 spectral looking figure

6.16 Uncas attendant

6.37 cry in night

7.5 white man without a cross

7.12 horrid cry a horse gives

8.25 50 demons, one Christian soul

8.30 we are men without a cross

8.36 I should die as becomes my color

8.37 Why die at all?

8.43 reason + Christianity

8.50 Uncas will stay

8.51 go to my father

9.3-4 Alice & Magua


Ch 11 Magua as Byronic hero: 11.2 sat apart, deepest thought; 11.9 joy/malignancy passion; 11.21 supposed injuries; 11.30 scars

11.20 Cora repulsed

11.20 a chief, happy; fire-water

11.23 whose shades of countenance may resemble mine?

11.26-28 justice!

11.42 live in his wigwam forever

11.65 you stand between me and my God

11.74 [death before dishonor]


12.2 hand to hand

Uncas as action hero: 12.3, 12.7, 12.9

12.16 Uncas denies habits, nature

12.23 Book!

12.26 faith from the lights of nature


13.5 blockhouse

13.10 the son listening to the relation of the father

13.15 a fountain of crystal

13.19 dreaming a knight of ancient chivalry

13.33 gothic lighting, deceptive shadow, arches of the forest

13.36 children of the woods

13.43 gothic exit


16.1-5 domestic scene, Cora's sensitivity

16.29-31 Scotland, Caribbean, Cora's mother

16.34 a prejudice unworthy of my reason . . . deeply rooted

16.35 enriched by the marriage

16.36 Alice a woman without a cross


17.5 cinematic landscape; cf. spectacle & sublime (Jamie)

17.6-7 Cora's viewpoint

17.6 a hundred savages appeared as if by magic + Magua

17.6 women and children as alarmed and fluttering birds

17.7 tore the screaming infant from her arms

17.9 dashed the head of the infant against a rock

17.10 Magua, whoop

17.11 more than 2000 raving savages, drinking blood (cf. sentimental stereotypes)

17.13 foregrounding Munro, Magua, sisters

17.15 Alice had dropped senseless to the earth

17.16 Gamut interprets as "jubilee of devils"

17.18 dusky figures enacting their hellish rites

17.25 will the dark-hair go to his tribe?


29.1 an expression difficult to define

29.2 The Spirit that made men colored them differently; slave ships

29.4 pre-contact utopia

29.19 Cora rushes

29.21 like a beauteous and breathing model of her sex, looking up in his faded but majestic countenance, with a species of holy reverence

29.23 A woman. One of a hated race.

29.34 the Lenape were masters of the world

29.36 Is Tamenund a father?

29.39 maze of dark, glossy tresses

29.40 the pale faces are a proud and hungry race. I know that they claim not only to have the earth, but that the meanest of their color is better than the Sachems [chiefs] of the red man.

29.41 Cora manages for Uncas to speak


30.2 Uncas's grace

30.9 Does Tamenund dream? Have the winters gone backward? Will summer come again

30.17 small tortoise, beautifully tattooed

30.22 Uncas, the child of Uncas

30.27 two warriors of the unchanged race

30.30 charm of figurative language

30.88 our skins are not altogether of a color, and our gifts are somewhat different. Tell the Sagamore I never lost sight of him in my greatest trouble; and, as for you, think of me sometimes when on a lucky trail, and depend on it, boy, whether there be one heaven or two, there is a path in the other world by which honest men may come together again.

[30.92] The maiden drew back in lofty womanly reserve, and her dark eye kindled, while the rich blood shot, like the passing brightness of the sun, into her very temples, at the indignity.

30.94 Cora on Alice: correspondence + color code + unblemished


32.2 unbroken forest, no evident track of man, but

32.20 gothic trees?

32.39 scalping

32.40 dark and dense forest

32.43 warriors of my own color

32.48 Uncas at head of a hundred warriors

32.49 Magua conspicuous

32.51 the young Mohican braved the dangerous fire of his enemies, and soon compelled them to a flight as swift as his own headlong speed

32.53 gothic cave

32.54 white robe fluttering

32.57 Cora! Cora!

32.59 the way was rugged, broken

32.61 good action picture

32.64 I will go no further!

32.68 Cora diverts, changes dialog

32.69 choose!

32.73 a cry so fierce, wild, joyous



33.1 mourners, black and murky atmosphere, ravens

33.13 thrillingly soft and wailing

33.15 Cora and Uncas, will of the Great Spirit

33.16 a hunter would be her companion [transcendence]

33.16 That she [Cora] was of a blood purer and richer than the rest of her nation, any eye might have seen; that she was equal to the dangers and daring of a life in the woods, her conduct had proved

33.17 Alice less excellent

33.19 Scout shook his head

33.31 the heaven of their color

33.35 without distinction of sex, rank, color

33.41 the settlements of the pale faces

33.45 The gifts of our colors may be different, but God has so placed us as to journey in the same path. I have no kin, and I may also say, like you, no people.