Birth Marked - Captive (Tome 3) (French Edition)

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Colonies in literature. Slavery in literature. Slaves in literature. Mary Rowlandson Boston, The effects of innumerable exchanges are inscribed throughout this book. I pay tribute to some of those exchanges here, if only as a way of acknowledging my continuing indebtedness. Neil Schmitz, Ken Dauber, Deidre Lynch, and Bill Warner were among the earliest and best readers of this project, and I am grateful for their advice and encouragement.

Of its most recent readers, I thank particularly Don Pease and Mary Kelley for their careful and helpful responses to the manuscript, which has benefited much from their comments.


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Some of the ideas in this book were presented as lectures at Auburn University, and I appreciate the exchanges and dialogue generated there among colleagues and graduate students. Taylor Stoehr helped set me on my way at the very beginning and read the manuscript with care later on; I know that I would have done well to adopt more of his excellent suggestions.

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I have been fortunate in receiving a research grant-in-aid from the Office of the Vice President for Research at Auburn University, which enabled me to travel to The Newberry Library in Chicago, and a summer research grant from the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. I am grateful also to Dennis Rygiel for granting me the release time necessary to complete the project. Phil Pochoda at the University Press of New England has been generous in his support and enthusiasm for this project.

And to Chip Hebert, who asks the best questions. Earlier versions or portions of three chapters in this book have been published elsewhere. I thank the Arizona Board of Regents for permission to reprint portions of that essay here.


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All rights reserved. I know not, reader, whether you will be moved to tears by this narrative; I know I could not write it without weeping. T HE IMAGE OF Cotton Mather weeping over the stories of colonial Anglo-Americans held captive by Indians and his subtle injunction that readers do the same provokes the simple question with which I began this project: why does captivity, particularly the captivity of women, so often inspire the sentimental response of tears?

From the biblical image of the captive Israelites weeping on the banks of a river in Babylon to the sentimental media coverage of Americans held hostage in the Middle East, the representation of captivity has invariably, it seems, been accompanied by tears—and perhaps more by the tears of spectators than by those of the captives themselves. Moreover, those tears historically have signaled a sensation of belonging that is felt as pleasurable, quite in spite of the representation of suffering that inspires it.

This book repeatedly turns to moments and texts in early American cultural and literary history in which the figures of captive women have elicited this ambivalent sentimental response. It repeatedly finds that what is at stake in the fate of these figures is nothing less than the reproduction of the nation. Most explanations of sympathy ignore its element of pleasure and accordingly miss its profound ambivalence.

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The easiest way to explain sympathy, for example, has been to invoke the seemingly obvious mechanism of spectatorial identification: if we are moved by scenes of confinement and homelessness, it is because we imagine ourselves in the place of the suffering captives. But like tears themselves, this explanation blurs rather more than it clarifies. More specifically, by focusing on the affective relation of similarity between the captive and her audience, it obscures the complex exchanges between the captive and her alien captors. In this respect, the traditional understanding of sympathy repeats the same strategies of narratives and novels of captivity.

Like the media portrayal of hostage crises, captivity literature constructs and reinforces a binary division between captive and captor that is based on cultural, national, or racial difference. Since captivity typically takes place in colonial contexts of cultural as well as military warfare, this rhetorical opposition serves to justify the political and social antagonism that both propels and results from the sentimental representation of captivity.

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One aim of this book is to expose critically this strategic element of captivity literature but also to complicate it by examining a further dynamic obscured by the paradigm of sympathy outlined above by Burke and Fisher. One symptom of this hidden dynamic is the fascination, the almost subversive pleasure, with which audiences have responded to captivity scenarios. Why and how does captivity literature function as escape literature, and what might the sentimentality of these texts tell us about the terms of such escape?

What is the source of the pleasure that underwrites sympathetic response? The following chapters pursue such questions by examining texts published in North America from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries that depend on a central and sympathetic figure of a captive woman. The genres studied are not always easily distinguished from one another and indeed, their shared political and affective strategies indicate exchanges between them that are muted by efforts to contain them within coherent generic boundaries.

What brings together the colonial American captivity narratives, Anglo-American sentimental novels, and African American slave narratives studied here is their mutual engagement in a project much like the one Cotton Mather invokes in the epigraph above: provoking their readers to cry for their captive heroines.

In their narrative content as well as in their circulation as print commodities, these texts traverse those very cultural, national, and racial boundaries that they seem so indelibly to inscribe. Ethnohistorical studies likewise remind us that the exchanges that take place across these early American zones of contact are framed and transected by the practice of and resistance to colonialism.

Narratives and novels of captivity demonstrate that crossing transcultural borders exposes the captive to physical hardship and psychological trauma.

But they also reveal that such crossings expose the captive and her readers to the alternative cultural paradigms of her captors. In collision with other, more dominant paradigms, these emergent hybrid formations can generate forms of critical and subversive agency, both within and outside the text. These popular texts accordingly function as escape literature because their heroines so often indulge in transgressive behavior or enact forms of resistant agency, not in spite of their captivity but precisely as a result of it.

The tears that so often accompany accounts of female captivity both mark and mask that agency; sentimental discourse at once conceals the movement across such boundaries and legitimizes the transgressive female agency produced by it. When writers from Cotton Mather to Susanna Rowson to Harriet Beecher Stowe invite their readers to cry, they allow them the disavowed pleasure of indulging in unlegislated escape. But they also invite their readers into a national community that is experienced affectively precisely because its claim to integrity whether geographical or moral depends on remembering to forget the border transgressions and colonial violence that have secured it.

Indian captivity narratives emerge during this period, circulating the subversive possibilities of cultural exchange and enlisting those possibilities in the reproduction of a national community. Narratives about women, in part because their aggressive acts generally required more careful justification and posed more danger of subversion than those of men, acquired a particular cultural appeal.

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This ambivalent trope of female captivity becomes refigured in later historical periods to serve—and sometimes to resist—the representational and affective imperatives of American nation-building in popular sentimental novels of the revolutionary period chapter 3 , frontier romances of the Jacksonian era chapter 4 , and abolitionist literature of the decade preceding the Civil War chapters 5 and 6. The traditional formulation of sympathy as an identification with those suffering figures whom we are or could be like obscures these ambivalent sites of agency and their colonialist context by positing a model that reifies and segregates cultural, national, and racial identities.

Literary histories and the categories they produce frequently do much the same thing. American studies, for example, has only recently begun to reassess and critique its exceptionalist foundations by examining the ways in which national and local categories are constructed, revised, and reinvented in a complex of transnational and cross-cultural relations. By doing so, it also interrogates the specifically sentimental appeal of the exceptionalist myth.

Like the texts examined here, exceptionalist narratives of American literature and culture have historically obscured their colonialist origins and the production of cultural difference within them. Earlier I gestured toward an alternative model for understanding sympathetic tears as a cover for the physical and imaginative violation of borders of difference.

Captivity scenarios and sentimental response are in these terms mutually constitutive, dependent on the specifically colonial confrontations that produce them. This formulation resists the onetime convention of treating captivity narratives and sentimental fiction as two separate and distinct traditions whose eventual merger signaled the decline of the former. But the tendency to locate the source of this influence in the purportedly English origins of the novel hints that, in some accounts at least, a more specifically nationalist anxiety might inflect this narrative of corruption and diminishment.

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Christopher Castiglia, for example, persuasively argues that, by virtue of their very implausibility, sentimental captivity tales allowed women writers to articulate for themselves and their readers otherwise unimaginable feminist alternatives. For all their differences, these two accounts have in common a privileging of the emotional relation established between the white female captive and her implicitly white and largely female audience, a focus that follows the definition of sympathy shared by Edmund Burke and Philip Fisher as an identification based on resemblance.

But as I suggested earlier, that relation ignores the Amerindian captors who formed the backdrop and support for these sentimental equations and who frequently became the victims of that equation. These texts put into circulation critical and feminist materials, but those materials depend on the cultural surplus generated in exchange with groups that are simultaneously slated for destruction, removal, or exploitation.

Just as captivity narratives have been positioned within a rhetoric of exceptionalism, American sentimental novels have been read within isolated national and cultural contexts, encouraging a persistent lack of attention to the ambivalent products of the contact zone, where cultural difference emerges amid colonial exploitation. The myth of exceptionalism is therefore founded on a gesture that, by aligning sentimental fiction both with women and with Europe, at once masculinizes and isolates American literature.

In fact, the isolationist foundations of American literary history have been as often reinforced as they have been dismantled by the inclusion of this once marginalized body of literature. As a result, the transnational and intercultural origins of sentimental discourse and the very reliance of sentimentality on the kinds of colonial relations associated with contact zones have continued unacknowledged. The moving bodies of captive women documented in the books studied here are inscribed by tensions between, on the one hand, their service to national or cultural reproduction and, on the other, the threats they pose to such reproduction.

It is precisely this irresolvable tension between national agents and minority agency that sentimental discourse adjudicates. In his own act of exorcising sentimentalism, Leslie Fiedler makes a confession that betrays a different sort of difficulty posed by writers of sentimental novels like Susanna Rowson, one that has nothing to do with his own overt concerns with standards of aesthetics or masculinity.

Captivity and Sentiment is concerned with the interstitial sites marked precisely by these two paired indicators: the distress of classifiers and the mobility of bodies. While critics have sometimes placed captivity literature and sentimental literature in contest with each other on a field defined and critiqued in terms of gender, that field has been consistently surrounded, as it were, by an isolationist fence that has blurred the relations of contestation that take place on and across its containing borders.

As chapter 2 argues, bringing eighteenth-century stories of female captivity into transcontinental dialogue highlights the arenas of friction and exchange that exceptionalist paradigms of American studies, like sentimental nationalism, conceal.

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The Captive & The Fugitive

The texts studied in this book often resolutely inscribe the boundaries on which isolationism and exceptionalism depend, but attending to their transgression of those same borders encourages them also to circulate as the unwitting bearers of cultural difference within American literary and national histories. Captivity and Sentiment locates agency at those overlooked sites of cultural difference. The category of agency has been an ongoing source of concern within cultural studies, in large part as a result of the dilemma posed by the model of agency and its containment associated with the work of Foucault.