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Modernity and Its Other

The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century

Robert Woods Sayre

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 12/2017
Pages: 468
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9781496204776


In Modernity and Its Other Robert Woods Sayre examines eighteenth-century North America through discussion of texts drawn from the period. He focuses on this unique historical moment when early capitalist civilization (modernity) in colonial societies, especially the British, interacted closely with Indigenous communities (the "Other") before the balance of power shifted definitively toward the colonizers. Sayre considers a variety of French perspectives as a counterpoint to the Anglo-American lens,  including J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur and Philip Freneau, as well as both Anglo-American and French or French Canadian travelers in "Indian territory," including William Bartram, Jonathan Carver, John Lawson, Alexander Mackenzie, Baron de Lahontan, Pierre Charlevoix, and Jean-Baptiste Trudeau. Modernity and Its Other is an important addition to any North American historian's bookshelf, for it brings together the social history of the European colonies and the ethnohistory of the American Indian peoples who interacted with the colonizers.  


Robert Woods Sayre is a professor emeritus of English and American literature and civilization at the University of Paris East, Marne-La-Vallée. He is the author of several books, including Solitude in Society: A Sociological Study in French Literature, and the coauthor (with Michael Löwy) of Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity.


"This translation and expansion of the original French edition brings an international scholar's perspective and another dimension to the construction of what has been called 'the white man's Indian.'"—Colin G. Calloway, author of One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West before Lewis and Clark  

"Readers will discover new aspects to French American figures like Crèvecoeur and Freneau, as well as the charms of lesser-known travelers such as the Jesuit historian Charlevoix, the renegade officer Lahontan, and the colonial promoters such as John Lawson and Jonathan Carver."—Gordon M. Sayre, author of Les Sauvages Américains: Representations of Native Americans in French and English Colonial Literature  

"This is no tale of the Vanishing Indian (a fable chillingly historicized in the epilogue). By Sayre's account what has vanished, into commodity and property, is the counter-world admired in most of the texts and writers analyzed here, no matter how conflicted their accounts."—Mary Baine Campbell, author of The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400–1600?