Margaret Fuller's First Depiction of Indians and the Limits on Social Protest: An Exercise in Women's Studies Pedagogy

By Kolodny, Annette | Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Margaret Fuller's First Depiction of Indians and the Limits on Social Protest: An Exercise in Women's Studies Pedagogy


Kolodny, Annette, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers


By July 1842 Margaret Fuller had handed over editorship of the Transcendental Club's journal, the Dial, to her successor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Earlier that year, the two had arranged for Fuller to review two collections of folk ballads, both published in Germany but readily available in the United States. [1] In early June, Fuller promised Emerson "50 or 60" pages in time for publication in the October issue (Emerson, Letters 62). The two books to be reviewed were Rheinsagen aus dem Munde des Volks und deutscher Dichter. Fur Schule, Haus und Wandershaft (1837) [Traditions of the Rhine from the Mouths of the People and German Poets. For School, Home, and Travelling], which Fuller translated simply as "Traditions of the Rhine from the mouths of the people and German poets. By Karl Simrock"; and Neugriechische Volkslieder, gesammelt und herausgegeben von C. Fauriel (1825), which Fuller translated as "Modern Greek popular Songs, collected and published by C. Fauriel" (Fuller, "Romaic" 137, 153). This second volume, s he made clear, had been translated by Wilhelm Muller into German from its original French and was "furnished both with the French editor's explanations and ... [with Muller's] own" (Fuller, "Romaic" 153-54). [2]

The lengthy review essay (forty-three pages in print) appeared under the title "Romaic and Rhine Ballads." Although "Romaic and Rhine Ballads" has received scant notice from Fuller scholars, it nonetheless merits further attention. To begin with, it contributes to the view that Fuller was the preeminent and perhaps the best read Germanist of her generation. The elegance and accuracy of her translations illustrate her ease and fluency in the language (remarkable, at least in part, because Fuller had never visited Germany nor had access to formal training in German language or letters). [3] Even more important, however, is the fact that "Romaic and Rhine Ballads" represents Fuller's first published attempt to respond to what was happening to the Indian. [4] In this review, ostensibly focused on German and modern Greek folk ballads, Fuller inscribed a subtext about "our aborigines" (179).

Not surprisingly, that subtext raises the same questions that most scholars routinely raise about Fuller's first published book, Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 (1844). For example, Lucy Maddox finds in Summer on the Lakes unambiguous evidence that, despite Fuller's expressed sympathy for the Indians, she nonetheless never challenged the view that "in the future they face only 'speedy extinction'" (144). Similarly, in her own thoughtful discussion of Summer on the Lakes, Christina Zwarg regrets that Fuller's "witness to the crisis of the Native Americans sometimes caused her to endorse the discourse of the vanishing American which, historians remind us, became a deadly excuse for the aggressive expansion of European culture" (109). In effect, like many others, both Maddox and Zwarg thus chastise Fuller because, in Zwarg's words, she "found it... difficult to refute the fatal construction of the Native American" (109).

What compels attention in "Romaic and Rhine Ballads" is that it raises these questions a full year before Fuller embarked on her tour of the frontier settlements that dotted the prairies of Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory and a full year before she encountered the Indians of Mackinaw Island, whom she sympathetically depicted in the closing chapters of Summer on the Lakes as a people unwillingly torn from their traditional lands and lifeways. Precisely because the 1842 review essay--written before Fuller had had any real firsthand experience of Native Peoples [5]-so perfectly predicts the language and equivocations that trouble readers of Summer on the Lakes, it affronts us with the conundrum that we encounter often with Fuller: what can today's readers reasonably expect, even from a woman described by her contemporaries as "striking" in her "clear, sharp understanding" (Clarke 113-14)? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Margaret Fuller's First Depiction of Indians and the Limits on Social Protest: An Exercise in Women's Studies Pedagogy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.