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Hallock provides an alternative to the myth of a vacant wilderness found in later writings. Emphasizing shared cultures and conflict in the border regions, he reconstructs the milieu of Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, William Bartram, and James Fenimore Cooper, as well as lesser-known figures such as Lewis Evans, Jane Colden, Anne Grant, and Elias Boudinot. State papers, treaty documents, maps, and journals provide a rich backdrop against which Hallock reinterprets the origins of a pastoral tradition.
Combining the new western history, ecological criticism, and Native American studies, Hallock uncovers the human stories embedded in descriptions of the land. His historicized readings offer an alternative to long-accepted myths about the vanishing backcountry, the march of civilization, and a pristine wilderness. The American pastoral, he argues, grew from the anxiety of independent citizens who became colonizers themselves.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Frontier and pioneer life United States Historiography, Frontier and pioneer life West (U, S, ) Historiography, United States Description and travel, Environmental policy United States History, Environmental policy West (U, S, ) History, Frontier and pioneer life in literature, Pastoral literature, American History and criticism, Environmental literature History and criticism