Over the river and through the woods: Miscegenation and the American experiment
Crosby, Shelby Lucille
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This dissertation examines how early American authors utilized the concept of miscegenation as a way to alter the American experiment. By invoking and exploring the paradox that Thomas Jefferson writes into existence with the Declaration of Independence and Notes on the State of Virginia, this dissertation seeks to illuminate the ways that early American authors were influenced by Jefferson's paradoxical thoughts on race in America. How do these authors attempt to solve the Jeffersonian conundrum? In chapter 1, "Practical Love: Lydia Maria Child's Hobomok, Miscegenation and Nation," Child forwards miscegenation as a way to successfully combine Native American culture with Euro-American culture. In chapter 2, "The Body Politic and Cultural Miscegenation in Hope Leslie or, Early Times in the Massachusetts, " I am intrigued by Sedgwick's character, Magawisca. She becomes an agent of nation formation; it is through her that Hope learns self-control and composure. Ultimately, I interrogate Magawisca's position in the nation state and her disappearance at the end of the novel. In chapter three, "Challenging the Body Politic: William Wells Brown's Clotel; or the President's Daughter and Jeffersonian Republicanism" and chapter four, "'This is my Gun': Frank J. Webb's Radical Black Domesticity," I shift the discussion to African American literature and its use of miscegenation. In Clotel, William Wells Brown creates a fictionalized account of Thomas Jefferson's African American descendants. Using Jeffersonian myth, Brown invokes the nation's founding documents and develop mulatto characters that are the physically embodiment of the Jeffersonian paradox. And in chapter four I examine Webb's use of domesticity and miscegenation as a way to forward a new black middle class that is capable of being free and, more importantly, being citizens.