Nicole Perry
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The savagery of America?
Nineteenth-century German literature and indigenous representations
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Widely considered the first female German author, Sophie von La Roche’s, Erscheinungen am See Oneida (1798), vividly recounted the fascination, expectations, and disappointments of a young man travelling through the Northeastern United States describes in his letters home. Thirty-five years later, Austrian writer Charles Sealsfield (Carl Postl) condemned the archaic lifestyle of the Oconee that was ostensibly impeding the American expansion West, which he compared to the monarchies of Europe in his 1833 novel Der Legitime und die Republikaner. With different underlying reasons, both authors evoked images of savagery and primitiveness that championed the necessity of the colonization of North America’s Indigenous peoples, yet both authors created Indigenous characters that cause the reader to contemplate who really was the ‘savage’.

This chapter explores the authors’ descriptions of indigenous America to analyze the use of pre-conceived European notions of North American indigeneity that engaged with and demarcated issues of gender, race, and colonization.

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Savage worlds

German encounters abroad, 1798-1914


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