Modernity and Its Other


Modernity and Its Other

The Encounter with North American Indians in the Eighteenth Century

Robert Woods Sayre

456 pages
25 illustrations, index


December 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Modernity and Its Other Robert Woods Sayre examines eighteenth-century North America through discussion of texts drawn from the period. He focuses on this unique historical moment when early capitalist civilization (modernity) in colonial societies, especially the British, interacted closely with Indigenous communities (the “Other”) before the balance of power shifted definitively toward the colonizers.

Sayre considers a variety of French perspectives as a counterpoint to the Anglo-American lens,  including J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur and Philip Freneau, as well as both Anglo-American and French or French Canadian travelers in “Indian territory,” including William Bartram, Jonathan Carver, John Lawson, Alexander Mackenzie, Baron de Lahontan, Pierre Charlevoix, and Jean-Baptiste Trudeau. Modernity and Its Other is an important addition to any North American historian’s bookshelf, for it brings together the social history of the European colonies and the ethnohistory of the American Indian peoples who interacted with the colonizers.

Author Bio

Robert Woods Sayre is a professor emeritus of English and American literature and civilization at the University of Paris East, Marne-La-Vallée. He is the author of several books, including Solitude in Society: A Sociological Study in French Literature, and the coauthor (with Michael Löwy) of Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity.


"This is an important title for undergraduate and graduate readers."—B. A. Mann, Choice

"[Modernity and Its Other] is a worthy read in terms of examining eighteenth-century literature from the perspectives of Europeans and Euro-Americans, investigating their thoughts about modernity and their views on how modernity influenced the lives of indigenous Americans."—Brooke Bauer, Journal of Southern History

"Sayre's work adds to our understanding of the creation and promotion of the nineteenth-century Romantic Indian and the role it played in American culture."—Robyn Johnson, American Indian Quarterly

"Modernity and Its Other is essential reading for historians of the French and British North American colonies as well as scholars interested in the intellectual, political, and economic currents of the Atlantic world. Robert Woods Sayre’s in-depth examination of Franco-American and Anglo-American travel literature by authors like François-Xavier de Charlevoix, John Lawson, and William Bartram provides readers with new insights into many well-used primary sources."—Peter Ferdinando, H-Atlantic

“This translation and expansion of the original French edition brings an international scholar’s perspective and another dimension to the construction of what has been called ‘the white man’s Indian.’”—Colin G. Calloway, author of One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West before Lewis and Clark

“Readers will discover new aspects to French American figures like Crèvecoeur and Freneau, as well as the charms of lesser-known travelers such as the Jesuit historian Charlevoix, the renegade officer Lahontan, and the colonial promoters such as John Lawson and Jonathan Carver.”—Gordon M. Sayre, author of Les Sauvages Américains: Representations of Native Americans in French and English Colonial Literature

“This is no tale of the Vanishing Indian (a fable chillingly historicized in the epilogue). By Sayre’s account what has vanished, into commodity and property, is the counter-world admired in most of the texts and writers analyzed here, no matter how conflicted their accounts.”—Mary Baine Campbell, author of The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400–1600

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part 1. Views of Modernity: Internal/External Discovery
1. Crèvecoeur: British America before and during the Revolutionary Upheaval
2. Philip Freneau: After the Revolution
3. Moreau de Saint-Méry: Fin de Siècle
Part 2. Views of the Other: Travels in “Indian Territory”
4. The Zero Degree of the Other: Indian Violence and “Adventure” with Indians
5. Accounts of Travel in New France: Lahontan and Charlevoix
6. Anglo-American Travelers: John Lawson and Jonathan Carver
7. Travels of William Bartram, Quaker Botanist
8. Fur Traders: Alexander Mackenzie and Jean-Baptiste Trudeau
Epilogue: Into the Nineteenth Century—George Catlin
Appendix: Chronology of Historical Events, Travels, and Publications

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