Writing the life of the self: constructions of identity in autobiographical discourse by six eighteenth-century American Indians

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Title: Writing the life of the self: constructions of identity in autobiographical discourse by six eighteenth-century American Indians
Author: Pruett, David Alan
Abstract: The invasion of the Western Hemisphere by empire -building Europeans brought European forms of rhetoric to the Americas . American Indians who were exposed to European -style education gradually adopted some of the cultural ways of the invaders , including rhetorical forms and operations that led , via literacy in European languages , to autobiographical writing , historical consciousness , and literary self -representation . This dissertation uses rhetorical criticism to analyze autobiographical discourse of six eighteenth -century American Indian writers : Samuel Ashpo , Hezekiah Calvin , David Fowler , Joseph Johnson , Samson Occom , and Tobias Shattock . Their texts are rhetorically interrelated through several circumstances : all of these men were educated in a missionary school ; most of them probably learned to read and write in English at the school ; they left the school and worked as teachers and Christian missionaries to Indians , sharing similar obstacles and successes in their work ; and they are Others on whom their teacher , Eleazar Wheelock , inscribed European culture . The six Indian writers appropriate language and tropes of the encroaching Euro -American culture in order to define themselves in relation to that culture and make their voices heard . They participated in European colonial culture by responding iv to , and co -creating , rhetorical situations . While the Indians' written discourse and the situations that called forth their writing have been examined and discussed through a historical lens , critiques of early American Indian autobiography that make extensive use of rhetorical analysis are rare . Thus this dissertation offers a long -overdue treatment of rhetoric in early American Indian autobiography and opens the way to rhetorical readings of autobiography by considering the early formation of the genre in a cross -cultural context .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /447
Date: 2004-09-30

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Writing the life of the self: constructions of identity in autobiographical discourse by six eighteenth-century American Indians. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /447 .

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