From Knight Errant to Exploring Pioneer: The Influence of Medieval Romances on the Depiction of Human and Non-Human Others in John Filson’s “The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon”


This article analyzes, through a comparative approach, a frontier narrative, John Filson’s “The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon” (1784), in relation to selected medieval chivalric romances from an ecocritical perspective, exploring the way in which medieval patterns have been employed in the American mythopoeic process, especially in relation to the frontier and the wilderness myths. In fact, medievalist narratives have been often employed to justify an anthropocentric, expansionist, and imperialistic agenda with grievous consequences on the way in which Americans engage with nature and with nonhuman species. At the same time, this tendency is often accompanied by an androcentric and ethnocentric rhetoric, contributing to the marginalization from dominant national discourses of significant sections of the population due to their race and gender. For this reason, attention will be also given to how attitudes toward the nonhuman can reflect and bear an impact on those toward other humans. By investigating how narratives develop, evolve, and circulate across time and space, it becomes possible to reveal the harmful logic they carry, and stress the importance of shifting the narrative in the direction of more sustainable intra- and inter-species relations.


Medievalism; Frontier Narratives; Early American Literature; Ecocriticism

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Published : 2022-12-31

MagroG. (2022). From Knight Errant to Exploring Pioneer: The Influence of Medieval Romances on the Depiction of Human and Non-Human Others in John Filson’s “The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon”. Review of International American Studies, 15(2), 187-210.

Giulia Magro
Sapienza University of Rome & University of Silesia in Katowice  Italy

Giulia Magro is a Ph.D. student in Studies in English Literatures, Cultures, Language and Translation (Literary and Cultural Studies curriculum) at the Sapienza University of Rome and at the University of Silesia in Katowice. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Linguistic, Literary and Translation Studies at the Sapienza University of Rome, with a dissertation titled “The Knight Keeps Setting Forth: An Analysis of the Continuity of Medieval Chivalric Romances in American Literature.” During her Master of Arts degree, she studied abroad at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. for nine months, thanks to the Erasmus Plus program. In May 2021, she participated to the masterclass “Key Concepts in World Literature and the Environmental Humanities,” organized by the Sapienza University of Rome. During the first year of her Ph.D., currently in progress, she has taken part in multiple seminars at Sapienza University of Rome and attended the course "Intellectual Property Law" organized by the University of Silesia (Katowice). Her research interests include the impact of medievalism on American literature and culture, focusing in particular on speculative fiction and science fiction, and ecocritical and posthumanist approaches.

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