The Heart of American Darkness

Conrad's novella tells a story of empire-on-the-make, of exploitation and cruelty, of death and derangement, of a strange river that opens up lands of potential and desire, of reputations made, lost, and redeemed 'out there.'

Lecture Description

For a century, Frederick Jackson Turner’s vision of the frontier has dominated scholarship, either for or against. There is another narrator of empire from the 1890s whom we have not considered as applicable as a way of “seeing” the frontier in American history: Joseph Conrad. “The Heart of American Darkness” uses Conrad’s classic (and controversial) novella as a guide to “seeing” anew the absurdity, bewilderment, chaos, and brutality of the American frontier, specifically the Ohio Valley of the 1750s-70s.

CATEGORIES

American Indian Borderlands

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