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Transformable RaceSurprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America$
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Katy L. Chiles

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199313501

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199313501.001.0001

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Transforming into Natives: Crèvecoeur, Marrant, and Brown on Becoming Indian

Transforming into Natives: Crèvecoeur, Marrant, and Brown on Becoming Indian

Chapter:
(p.107) { 3 } Transforming into Natives: Crèvecoeur, Marrant, and Brown on Becoming Indian
Source:
Transformable Race
Author(s):

Katy L. Chiles

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199313501.003.0004

Chapter 3 examines how J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer, John Marrant’s A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black, and Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly take up the natural-historical idea that race was a condition one managed to sustain rather than an immutable bodily fact. These texts explore racial transformation by featuring the protagonists’ journey among American Indian tribes. Understanding how Letters examines whites altering racially in the New World provides a new understanding of what Crèvecoeur’s “American” is. Marrant’s Narrative offers up a picture of an African American “becoming” Native American. Brown’s Edgar Huntly explores what might happen to creole whites by depicting the strange transformation Edgar undergoes. In these texts, the concept of racial transformation—rather than one of passing—underpins these literary depictions of how one’s race begins to change into that of another.

Keywords:   J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, John Marrant, A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black, Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly, passing, racial transformation, American

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