Who Robbed the Woods: American Deforestation and Indigenous Literary Resistance, 1825-1930

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-9183-8831
Sy, Lloyd Kevin, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ogden, Emily, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Kuhn, Mary, AS-English (ENGL), University of Virginia
Brickhouse, Anna, University of Virginia
Jernigan, Kasey, AS-Anthropology (ANTH), University of Virginia

"Who Robbed the Woods" investigates how writers from the long nineteenth century represent woodcutting and deforestation to either explain or critique American imperialism. I develop the notion of a “sylvan grammar”—a way of representing forests both textually and physically—by reading American literature in conjunction with the history of the lumber industry. I show how Indigenous authors propose forms of survival by reading the fallen tree—often used as a symbol of their demise. A first chapter suggests that books by James and Susan Fenimore Cooper display how forests can be used in service of imperial power. Three subsequent chapters analyze Indigenous critiques of deforestation by William Apess, Simon Pokagon, and Zitkála-Šá. In rejecting narratives of Indigenous death, these authors exemplify constructive forms of resistance in the face of environmental and political peril.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Native American literature, settler colonialism, deforestation
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