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
Aberth, John. An Environmental History of the Middle Ages: The Crucible of Nature. Routledge, 2013.
Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (1946). Translated by Willard R. Trask, Princeton University Press, 2003.
Bakeless, John E. “The Pioneers.” Port Folio 15, 1823, pp. 230–248.
Bernheimer, Richard. Wild Men in the Middle Ages: A Study in Art, Sentiment, and Demonology. Harvard University Press, 1952.
Boitani, Piero. Letteratura Europea e Medioevo volgare. Il Mulino, 2007.
Bolt, Barbara L. Of Wilderness, Forest, and Garden: An Eco-Theory of Genre in Middle English Literature. University of South Carolina, 2015. PhD dissertation. Scholar Commons, https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4134&context=etd
Bradford, William. Of Plimoth Plantation. 1651. Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1898.
Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1995.
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2009, pp. 197–222. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/596640
Chrétien de Troyes. Perceval: The Story of the Grail. Late twelfth century. Translated by Burton Raffel, Yale University Press, 1999.
Chrétien de Troyes. Yvain, or The Knight of the Lion. Late twelfth century. Translated by A.S. Kline, Poetry in Translation, 2018.
Clark, Timothy. The Value of Ecocriticism. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
Classen, Albrecht. “Self and Other in the Arthurian World: Heinrich von dem Türlin’s ‘Wunderketten’.” Monatshefte, Vol. 96, No. 1, 2004, pp. 20–39. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/30157743
Cronon, William. “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. W. W. Norton and Co., 1996.
Curtius, Ernst Robert. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. 1948. Princeton University Press, 1973.
Faragher, John Mack. “They May Say What They Please: Daniel Boone and the Evidence.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 88, No. 4, 1990, pp. 373–393. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/23381897
Ferlampin-Acher, Christine. “The Natural World.” Handbook of Arthurian Romance: King Arthur’s Court in Medieval European Literature, edited by Johnny McFadyen and Leah Tether, De Gruyter, 2017.
Filson, John. The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke (1784): An Online Electronic Text Edition. Edited by Paul Royster, Electronic Texts in American Studies, https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=etas
Flint, Timothy. The First White Man of the West: Or, The Life and Exploits of Col. Dan’l Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky; Interspersed with Incidents in the Early Annals of the Country. George Conclin, 1847.
Frye, Steven. “’Manifest Ambivalence’: James Fenimore Cooper, the American Romance, and the Metahistories of Hegel and Herder.” The Kentucky Review, Vol. 14, No. 2, art. 4, 1999, pp. 32–53. UKnowledge, https://uknowledge.uky.edu/kentucky-review/vol14/iss2/4. Accessed 19 Oct. 2022.
Gabriele, Matthew. “Trump says medieval walls worked. They didn’t.” Washington Post, 10 January 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/10/trump-says-medieval-walls-worked-they-didnt. Accessed 19 Oct. 2022.
Geoffrey of Monmouth. Historia Regum Britanniae. Early twelfth century. Translated by Lewis Thorpe, Penguin Books, 1966.
George, Michael W. “Gawain’s Struggle with Ecology: Attitudes toward the Natural World in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The Journal of Ecocriticism, Vol. 2, No. 2, July 2010, pp. 30–44. https://www.csub.edu/~cmacquarrie/isle_of_man/documents/george.pdf. Accessed 19 Oct. 2022.
Georgi-Findlay, Brigitte. The Frontiers of Women’s Writing: Women’s Narratives and the Rhetoric of Westward Expansion. University of Arizona Press, 1996.
Gottfried von Strassburg. Tristan. Thirteenth century. Translated by A. T. Hatto, Penguin, 1960.
Hallock, Thomas. From the Fallen Tree: Frontier Narratives, Environmental Politics, and the Roots of a National Pastoral, 1749–1826. University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Haraway, Donna. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003.
Harrison, Robert Pogue. Forests: The Shadow of Civilization. University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Heilbrun, Carolyn G. Toward a Recognition of Androgyny. Alfred A. Knopf, 1973.
Herlihy, D. J. “Attitudes toward the Environment in Medieval Society.” Historical Ecology: Essays on Environment and Social Change, edited by Lester J. Bilsky, Kennikat Press, 1980.
Herman, Daniel J. “The Other Daniel Boone: The Nascence of a Middle-Class Hunter Hero, 1784- 1860.” Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 18, No. 3, 1998, pp. 429–457. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3124673
Huggan, Graham, and Helen Tiffin. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2015.
Kaeuper, Richard. “The Societal Role of Chivalry in Romance: Northwestern Europe.” The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance, edited by Roberta L. Krueger, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Keegan, John. The Mask of Command. Viking Penguin Inc., 1987.
Kolodny, Annette. The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630–1860. The University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. Harvard University Press, 1993.
Limerick, Patricia Nelson. Something in the Soil: Legacies and Reckonings in the New West. Norton, 2000
Long, Charles. Significations: Signs, Symbols, and Images in the Interpretation of Religion. Fortress Press, 1986.
Lupack, Alan. The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend. Oxford University Press, 2007.
Malory, Thomas. Le Morte D’Arthur. 1485. Global Grey E-books, 2019.
Mather, Cotton. The Wonders of the Invisible World. 1690. Electronic Texts in American Studies. 19, 1998, https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1019&context=etas
Moncrief, L. W. (1970). “The Cultural Basis of our Environmental Crisis.” Science, Vol. 170, No. 2957, pp. 508–512. DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3957.508
Morton, Timothy. Hype objects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
Moskowitz, Jennifer. “The Cultural Myth of the Cowboy, or, How the West Was Won.” Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2006. https://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/spring_2006/moskowitz.htm
Muldoon, Mark. “Environmental Decline and Christian Contemplation.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2003, pp.75–96. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/44086144
Nicholas L. Paul. “Modern Intolerance and the Medieval Crusades.” Whose Middle Ages? Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, edited by Andrew Albin et al., Fordham Univeristy Press, 2019.
Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Harvard University Press, 2013.
Personal Narratives Group, editor. Interpreting Women’s Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narrative. Indiana University Press, 1989
Ray, Sarah Jaquette. The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture. University of Arizona Press, 2013.
Rosenthal, Bernard, and Paul E. Szarmach, editors. Medievalism in American Culture. Papers of the Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies. Medieval Renaissance Texts and Studies, Vol. 55, 1989.
Salisbury, Joyce E., editor. The Medieval World of Nature: A Book of Essays. Garland, 1993.
Saunders, Corinne J. The Forest of Medieval Romance. D.S. Brewer, 1993.
Simms, William Gilmore. Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction. 1845. Edited by C. Hugh Holman, Harvard University Press, 1962.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Late fourteenth century. Translated by Marie Borroff, Norton, 1967.
Slotkin, Richard. Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860. Wesleyan University Press, 1973.
Smith, Henry Nash. Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth. 1950. Harvard University Press, 1978.
Sparks, Jared. The Library of American Biography, Vol. 23, Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1847.
Stuhmiller, Jacqueline. The Hunt in Romance and the Hunt as Romance. Cornell University, 2005. PhD dissertation. eCommons, https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/239
Sturgeon, Noël. Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural. University of Arizona Press, 2009.
Swearingen, James E. and Joanne Cutting-Gray. “Cooper’s Pathfinder: Revising Historical Understanding.” New Literary History, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1992, pp. 267–280. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/469234
Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Significance of the Frontier in American History. Government Printing Office, 1894.
Wheeler, Bonnie. “The Masculinity of King Arthur: From Gildas to the Nuclear Age.” Quondam et Futurus, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1992, pp. 1–26. JSTOR, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27870210
White, Lynn, Jr. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science, Vol. 155, No. 3767, 1967, pp. 1203–1207. DOI: 10.1126/science.155.3767.1203
White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Wilson, Edward O. In Search of Nature. Island Press, 1996.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The Copyright Holder of the submitted text is the Author. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the RIAS websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). Any commercial use requires separate written agreement with the Author and a proper credit line indicating the source of the original publication in RIAS.
The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY 4.0 license.
- Author’s Warranties
The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.
If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution - By the same conditions 4.0 International".
ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).
- User Rights
Under the Creative Commons Attribution license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.
I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.