I am in the process of applying for a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) postdoc funding – if you have applied for one of these, then you know how difficult the application is to navigate. I am in one of the more stressful parts, which is to find a postdoc supervisor. I sent my proposal out yesterday….and the waiting is simply brutal. However, even if the application doesn’t work out this year, the process of sorting out my book in a four page, single spaced program of work was incredibly valuable.
If you have read my previous posts, then you know that I have been struggling with the organization of my chapters. I have a handle on the Duston chapter, which is almost finished; the theory chapter, which will sort through my methodology; and, of course, The Last of the Mohicans, in which I link the film and television series to the material culture of the narrative. I was not at all happy with the final chapters on The Virginian. If my argument is about how durable narratives circulate neocolonial ideals via material culture, then how do I justify The Virginian? I think there are definitely neocolonial values expressed within the print narrative (particularly in the chapter sequence “The Game and The Nation”), but what about the material culture? Except for the material legacy of the aristocratic cowboy figure of the Virginian, there just isn’t much out there.
I admit to feeling a little stuck, but then I remembered the excellent advice that Elizabeth Maddock Dillon gave me at the Futures of American Studies Institute. She suggested that I look into the literary tie-ins to John Smith’s encounter with Pocahontas. Needless to say, I am very grateful, because now I see intersections with Duston’s representation. All three narratives fictionalize Indigenous and settler-colonist relationships, but with Duston and Pocahontas, the ways in which the female body has been produced as a national “thing” to be fetishized and consumed are stunning (and disturbing).
The Last of the Mohicans has mainly been reproduced in material culture through two main characters, Chingachgook and Hawkeye. I am looking forward to seeing how the male body comes to be reproduced as objects of desire that can be handled (sounds kinky) as mass market products. Actually, both Hawkeye and Chingachgook are available in role playing games. These representations will be my focus. I am curious to see if the films and the television series are shot or cinematically narrated in such a way that the viewer can role play as either character or, perhaps, race?
The most exciting part of all of this is to finally have a strong grip on what my book will look like and what it wants to achieve. Now comes the grunt work of getting it done.