Citation

"Where Are My Kinsmen? The Trope of Loneliness in Coopers' The Last of the Mohicans and Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave"

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Abstract:

Nineteenth century America represented a young nation struggling with a “social” problem heavily grounded in race. By mid-century, these “United” states are divided into warring entities slightly held together by an economic and international need for one another. Yet, this warring time captured America’s historical and contemporary preoccupation – freedom. Writers of the time studied/felt this American dilemma, and scripted the internal conflict of a nation coming to terms with a history of injustices and crimes against humanity. Two writers in particular, understood America’s trek towards freedom and despite writing from two distinct racial groups, two different literary genres and two distinguished time periods, are subtextually linked in their treatment of freedom. One of these writers, James Fennimore Cooper, is noted as being one of America’s first novelists, and his historical novel The Last of the Mohicans narrates a powerful wrestling with the concept of freedom. The other writer, Frederick Douglass, is known for being the autodidactic ex-slave whose acquisition of literacy fueled his individual migration to be free, while his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave became a literary icon in American literature. A discussion of these two members of the American literati needs explanation, as their differences are too large to ignore. Cooper a white writer from the north writes historical fiction in 1826, whereas his contrast, Douglass a “Negro” ex-slave from the south writes in the genre of “narrative” in 1845. However, the racial, geographic and temporal distinctions of these men are not enough to disconnect how they similarly chronicle the individual’s departure from slavery. Their works both highlight how when a “man” leaves the structure or institution of slavery (that is to say, leaves “his” place of origin), “he” inevitably encounters a profound moment of loneliness where he can no longer claim the kinsmen he left behind. In an ironic paralleling of Cooper’s “Hawkeye” and Douglass’ “Self”, I argue that Cooper and Douglass record the loneliness that plagues one as “he” ascends from slavery. More importantly, juxtaposing how both writers treat this emotional moment of freedom, rewrites and revisions how America understands freedom. “Where Are My Kinsmen?: The Trope of Loneliness in Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans and Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave offers a new way of understanding race, freedom and the nature of emotion in an America consistently at war with itself.
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Association:
Name: 33rd Annual National Council for Black Studies
URL:
http://www.ncbsonline.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p302289_index.html
Direct Link:
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MLA Citation:

Gibson, III, Ernest. ""Where Are My Kinsmen? The Trope of Loneliness in Coopers' The Last of the Mohicans and Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave"" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 33rd Annual National Council for Black Studies, Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown, Atlanta, GA, Mar 19, 2009 <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p302289_index.html>

APA Citation:

Gibson, III, E. L. , 2009-03-19 ""Where Are My Kinsmen? The Trope of Loneliness in Coopers' The Last of the Mohicans and Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave"" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 33rd Annual National Council for Black Studies, Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown, Atlanta, GA <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p302289_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Presentation
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Nineteenth century America represented a young nation struggling with a “social” problem heavily grounded in race. By mid-century, these “United” states are divided into warring entities slightly held together by an economic and international need for one another. Yet, this warring time captured America’s historical and contemporary preoccupation – freedom. Writers of the time studied/felt this American dilemma, and scripted the internal conflict of a nation coming to terms with a history of injustices and crimes against humanity. Two writers in particular, understood America’s trek towards freedom and despite writing from two distinct racial groups, two different literary genres and two distinguished time periods, are subtextually linked in their treatment of freedom. One of these writers, James Fennimore Cooper, is noted as being one of America’s first novelists, and his historical novel The Last of the Mohicans narrates a powerful wrestling with the concept of freedom. The other writer, Frederick Douglass, is known for being the autodidactic ex-slave whose acquisition of literacy fueled his individual migration to be free, while his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave became a literary icon in American literature. A discussion of these two members of the American literati needs explanation, as their differences are too large to ignore. Cooper a white writer from the north writes historical fiction in 1826, whereas his contrast, Douglass a “Negro” ex-slave from the south writes in the genre of “narrative” in 1845. However, the racial, geographic and temporal distinctions of these men are not enough to disconnect how they similarly chronicle the individual’s departure from slavery. Their works both highlight how when a “man” leaves the structure or institution of slavery (that is to say, leaves “his” place of origin), “he” inevitably encounters a profound moment of loneliness where he can no longer claim the kinsmen he left behind. In an ironic paralleling of Cooper’s “Hawkeye” and Douglass’ “Self”, I argue that Cooper and Douglass record the loneliness that plagues one as “he” ascends from slavery. More importantly, juxtaposing how both writers treat this emotional moment of freedom, rewrites and revisions how America understands freedom. “Where Are My Kinsmen?: The Trope of Loneliness in Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans and Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave offers a new way of understanding race, freedom and the nature of emotion in an America consistently at war with itself.


Similar Titles:
The Social Decadence of Slavery in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

Revisiting Memory: Repetitious Slave Narratives and Neo Slave Narratives in American Consciousness

African American Women in the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass


 
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