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Title page for ETD etd-08112008-133534

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Duques, Matthew Eliot
Author's Email Address matthew.e.duques@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-08112008-133534
Title Connected Genres and Competing Nations: From Lahontan's New Voyages to John Dennis's Liberty Asserted
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bridget Orr Committee Member
  • John Dennis
  • New France
  • Travel Narratives
Date of Defense 2008-08-21
Availability unrestricted
John Dennis’s Liberty Asserted is an early English effort to dramatize conquest and assimilation in divided North America. The play centers on an Iroquois abducted Huron mother and son whose affiliations with the French and the English represent the tenuous and inveterate alliances shaping King William’s War and the War of Spanish Succession. Richard Braverman argues that Dennis uses a Lockean state of nature to turn his Whig politics into national myth. Reading Liberty Asserted as a Roman drama, Julie Ellison locates a stock narrative in which a conflict between reproductive and homo-social relations parallels a generic, contested terrain.

This paper draws new attention to the importance of Dennis’s North American setting. I argue that the wildly popular publication of Baron de Lahontan’s New Voyages to North America and the French missionary accounts which precede it had a significant impact on Liberty Asserted. While the informed ethnographer speaking from New France and the distant multiplicity of voices performing these regions may appear irreconcilable, a cross reading of Lahontan’s and Dennis’s texts suggests that both genres were often explicitly political and both had a vested interest in the projection of verisimilitude. Their inter-textual relationship demonstrates a complicity between empiricism and allegory in colonial imaginings, where Native American representations serve to clarify contested forms of conquest and assimilation in North America.

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