The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of The Frontier Romance

The Making of Racial Sentiment: Slavery and the Birth of The Frontier Romance

Cambridge University Press
August 2006
256 pages
Dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
Weight: 0.55 kg
Hardback ISBN: 9780521865395
Paperback ISBN: 9780521073042
Adobe eBook Reader ISBN: 9780511239465
Mobipocket eBook ISBN: 9780511247484

Ezra Tawil, Associate Professor of English
University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

The frontier romance, an enormously popular genre of American fiction born in the 1820s, helped redefine ‘race’ for an emerging national culture. Ezra Tawil argues that the novel of white-Indian conflict provided authors and readers with an apt analogy for the problem of slavery. By uncovering the sentimental aspects of the frontier romance, Tawil redraws the lines of influence between the ‘Indian novel’ of the 1820s and the sentimental novel of slavery, demonstrating how Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin ought to be reconsidered in this light. This study reveals how American literature of the 1820s helped form modern ideas about racial differences.


  • Introduction: toward a literary history of racial sentiment
  • 1. The politics of slavery and the discourse of race, 1787–1840
  • 2. Remaking natural rights: race and slavery in James Fenimore Cooper’s early writings
  • 3. Domestic frontier romance, or, how the sentimental heroine became white
  • 4. ‘Homely legends’: the uses of sentiment in Cooper’s Wept of Wish-Ton-Wish
  • 5. Stowe’s vanishing Americans: ‘Negro’ inferiority, captivity, and homecoming in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • 6. Captain Babo’s cabin: racial sentiment and the politics of misreading in Benito Cereno
  • Index.
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