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The Indian Male Body and the Heroic Ideal

The Indian Male Body and the Heroic Ideal

Tecumseh and the Indians of Parkman and Cooper

(p.14) Chapter One The Indian Male Body and the Heroic Ideal
From Daniel Boone to Captain America
Chad A. Barbour
University Press of Mississippi

Chapter one examines the existence of the Indian male body as an object of admiration and repulsion. On one hand, the Indian male body is glamorized as a specimen of Classical beauty, an ideal of physical and aesthetic form. On the other hand, that Indian body possesses the potential for danger and physical harm. Examples such as Tecumseh, Uncas, and Francis Parkman's descriptions of Native men demonstrate this contradictory balance of admiration and repulsion, a dynamic that both embodies and disembodies the Indian male figure. This chapter shows how American art and literature in the nineteenth century attempts to neutralize the perceived threat of the Indian male body through artistic objectification of that body, an objectification that aims to construct an ideal for white manhood.

Keywords:   male body, the Indian, American art, American literature, white manhood

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