"To a Certain Degree": Northern Education Reform, Settler Colonialism, and the Early U.S. Novel, 1782-1872
Duques, Matthew Elliot
'To a Certain Degree' uses an understudied archive of formal education materials from New England and Mid-Atlantic states as a lens to disclose how the early U.S. novel dealt with social, political and economic anxieties accompanying the shift from settler colony to settler nation. Analyzing works by J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur, Charles Brockden Brown, Hannah Foster, Sukey Vickery, James Fenimore Cooper, Lydia Maria Child, and María Ruiz de Burton, I show how seven of the country’s first novelists borrowed from and revised popular English and American school missions, practices, and children’s stories. I argue that their engagement with a range of teaching methods reveals how they prepared readers for changing familial and civic responsibilities during this complex, post-revolutionary transition.