The stereotypical images of Native Americans in a variety of American texts from the 19 th century
Paweł Stachura (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)
The presentation focuses on the stereotypical images of Native Americans in a variety of American texts from the 19 th century. Given the theoretical approach presented by Michel Foucault in "Discourse on Language," a stereotype may be seen as a "series of events" in the universe of discourse. In the particular example of "American Indians" the series originated with Jonathan Carver's Travels through the Interior Parts of North America (1779). Imagery from this text was repeated in many popular works of fiction, such as Chateaubriand's Atala (1801), or Cooper's novels. Foucault described several "control mechanisms" which regulated the mechanics of repetition and (dis)continuity of discourse. These mechanisms arguably transformed the stereotype, as it appeared and changed in the 19 th century American fiction. The aim of the presentation is to show, to what extent the stereotype was determined by Carver's founding text, how its influence was perpetuated, how it endured confrontations with "reality," and how its repetitions were diluted and dispersed. The most important feature of the stereotype is, arguably, enduring quality of Carver's text.