The Tutor'd Mind: Indian Missionary-Writers in Antebellum America / Edition 1 available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- University of Massachusetts Press
Part historical narrative, part textual analysis, this book traces the development of American Indian literature from the seventeenth century to the eve of the Civil War. Bernd C. Peyer focuses on the lives and writings of four prominent Indian missionariesSamson Occom of the Mohegans, William Apess of the Pequots, Elias Boudinot of the Cherokees, and George Copway of the Ojibwaeach of whom struggled to negotiate a secure place between the imperatives of colonial rule and the rights of native peoples.
In the view of the English colonists and their descendants, Indian converts to Christianity were expected to repudiate native traditions and affirm the superiority of European civilization, to serve as role models, and to spread the gospel far into the wilderness. Yet as Bernd C. Peyer shows, Indian missionaries did not always fulfill the expectations of those who trained them. Once the Indians recognized that conversion alone did not guarantee protection from discrimination, they devised a variety of strategies, theological as well as practical, to resist assimilation into the dominant white culture. Making effective use of their literacy and education, they called attention to the discrepancy between the Protestant ideals they had been taught and the Anglo-American practices to which native people were subjected.
By uncovering this subtext of dissent and resistance, Peyer at once alters and enriches our understanding of the evolution of the American Indian literary tradition.
About the Author
Bernd C. Peyer is a lecturer at the Center for North American Studies and Research, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität.
What People are Saying About This
Peyer has been a pioneer in rediscovering and making available Indian writers. Here he turns this expertise to a comprehensive account of missionary-writers and the result is a detailed and richly textured study of some fascinating and unjustly neglected figures in Indian literary and intellectual history.
This thoughtful, ambitious book conveys a picture of writers who struggled to speak in a new language to new people busily turning a homeland into a 'new world.' Taking this struggle seriously, Bernd Peyer helps us see again the complexity of cross-cultural interaction and the brilliance of Native American survival strategies.