"The Twice Told Tale": Colonial Love Plots, Slavery, and Racial Ideology in Editorial Versions of John Gabriel Stedman's "Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam"

Wygant, Christina D. "The Twice Told Tale": Colonial Love Plots, Slavery, and Racial Ideology in Editorial Versions of John Gabriel Stedman's "Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam". 2010. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

Co-Adviser: David Allen

This dissertation tests the potential of a new methodology to account for representations of human differences in editorial versions of John Gabriel Stedman's Narrative of a Five Years Exploration Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam. My contention is that any future venture in editing Stedman's work should take into account the historical complexities of his era, in particular the changing representations of human difference, race and gender in the 18th century. The dissertation draws on Roxann Wheeler's multiplicity theory regarding perceptions of race in the 18 th century and Gerard Genette's theory of textual multiplicity generated by paratext. It seeks to demonstrate that the contradictory accounts and shifting portrayals of Stedman's relationship with female slave Joanna can only be understood in relation to the textual history of this work.

As I show in the first chapter, the core of my argument is that Stedman and his editors have essentially produced multiple versions of Stedman's relationship with Joanna that unintentionally carry sexist and colonialist legacies. These representations are influenced by the cultural history in which the texts were written, edited, and published, which I take up in the second chapter. I argue that textual studies and post-colonial feminist theory need to be in conversation with one another in order to adequately identify and address these legacies. I employ these theories in the third chapter to analyze the influence of paratextual frames on reader reception of different versions of Stedman's Narrative, including the Prefaces, visual illustrations, media reviews, and editorial introductions. In the fourth chapter, I focus on different racial representations of Joanna in several textual witnesses of Stedman's narrative and diaries, and in the concluding chapter I explore the possibility of developing a new edition of Stedman's work, using the parallel text format. To ground this textual venture, I offer a fully annotated sample of a parallel text edition of a segment of Stedman's original diaries (which are transcribed from the original) and the flawed 1962 edition, and of sections from the 1790 manuscript and the 1796 first printed edition of the Narrative. The purpose of my sample edition is to encourage literary critics to explore the textual history of Stedman's work and become aware of the diverse representations of colonial relationships in various textual witnesses.

*The title of this dissertation is an adaptation of the two-volume collection of stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne called Twice-Told Tales published as a first edition in 1837 and as a second in 1842.

Status of Research or Work: 
Completed/published
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