Inventing the American "Indian" in the Eighteenth Century - EN908

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
7 30 (15) DR R Richardson







This module will look at eighteenth-century British representations of North American Indigenous people and consider the cultural functions of these representations, their origins, and their effects on British identity.

Students will be asked to look at British texts beginning with samples of early voyage narratives up to the Romantic period and consider the changing purpose of the figure known as the "Indian." In addition to conventional literary texts, this module will also incorporate museum catalogues, collected objects, and philosophical writing from the period.

The module will look at the interest in primitivism alongside narratives of progress and Enlightenment, as well as the new anxieties surrounding developments such as consumerism and empire, and assess the unique role played by Indians.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300


Available autumn term 2019/20

Method of assessment

Assignment (5,000 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually

Anonymous, Memoirs of the Life and Adventures of Tsonnonthouan (excerpts in coursepack- from ECCO)
Robert Bage, Hermsprong. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2002.
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Henry Grace, History of the Life and Sufferings. (in course pack- from ECCO)
Charles Johnstone, Adventures of a Guinea (excerpts in course pack, from ECCO)
Edward Kimber, The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2005.
Charlotte Lennox, The Life of Harriot Stuart (online edition: from ECCO)
Samson Occom, selected letters (in coursepack)
Charlotte Smith, The Old Manor House. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2002.
Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
"Unca Eliza Winkfield" (Anonymous), The Female American. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate their understanding of eighteenth-century literature and its relationship to transatlantic history and peoples, as well as the influence of Indigenous people of British literature;

2 Critically engage with texts and cultural institutions such as museums by applying learned theoretical models from postcolonial and Indigenous studies;

3 Demonstrate their understanding of the origins of modern concepts of identity and their relationship to colonised people and aesthetic forms.

4 Demonstrate their ability to apply new conceptual terms or frameworks to their study of literary and other cultural texts and to incorporate these in their own research;

5 Demonstrate awareness of the complexities of historical and theoretical contexts, ideas, and texts;

6 Demonstrate confident communication skills and enhance their ability to convey new or complex ideas in written or oral form with clarity;

7 Demonstrate the ability to devise, undertake, and complete research projects, including regular documentation and evaluation.

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