Winner, The Early American Literature Book Prize
Ethnology and Empire tells stories about words and ideas, and ideas aboutwords that developed in concert with shifting conceptions about Native peoplesand western spaces in the nineteenth-century United States. Contextualizing theemergence of Native American linguistics as both a professionalized researchdiscipline and as popular literary concern of American culture prior to theU.S.-Mexico War, Robert Lawrence Gunn reveals the manner inwhich relays between the developing research practices of ethnology, works offiction, autobiography, travel narratives, Native oratory, and sign languagesgave imaginative shape to imperial activity in the western borderlands.
In literary andperformative settings that range from the U.S./Mexico borderlands to the GreatLakes region of Tecumseh’s Pan-Indian Confederacy and the hallowed halls oflearned societies in New York and Philadelphia, Ethnology and Empire
modelsan interdisciplinary approach to networks of peoples, spaces, and communicationpractices that transformed the boundaries of U.S. empire through atransnational and scientific archive. Emphasizing the culturally transformativeimpacts western expansionism and Indian Removal, Ethnology and Empire
reimaginesU.S. literary and cultural production for future conceptions of hemisphericAmerican literatures.
ContentsAcknowledgments ixIntroduction 11 Philologies of Race: Ethnological Linguistics and Novelistic Representation 172 Empire, Sign Languages, and the Long Expedition, 1819–1821 523 John Dunn Hunter, Tecumseh, and the Linguistic Politics of Pan-Indianism 834 Connecting Borderlands: Native Networks and the Fredonian Rebellion 1145 John Russell Bartlett’s Literary Borderlands: Ethnology, the U.S-Mexico War, and the United States Boundary Survey 145Indian Passports 177Notes 187Index 229About the Author 242
“An original, beautifully written book on the rapidly changing ideas about language in American culture during the early nineteenth century. Ethnology and Empire engages the social history of the borderlands and linguistics to introduce a new way of looking at the formation of ideas about race and ethnography in the antebellum period. A fascinating read.”-Kirsten Silva Gruesz,author of Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing
“Through masterful engagement with nineteenth century literary production and ethnology, Robert Gunn underscores how the cultural work of linguistic contact is vital to our understanding of the ideologies of empire that slowly gained force in the evolving U.S. nation-state. Ethnology and Empire makes a significant contribution in the hemispheric turn in American studies, threading together little-known histories that advance the field and push our thinking about borderlands in innovative ways.”-Robert David Aguirre,author of Informal Empire: Mexico and Central America in Victorian Culture
"Ethnology and Empire demonstrates the power and flexibility of postmodern approaches to the study of colonial relationships."-American Quarterly
“A superb work. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”-Choice