Frances Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans and the EcoGothic

  • Ronald D. MorrisonEmail author


Scholars have long considered Frances Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans as a highly important and influential travel narrative recounting her three-and-a-half-year residence in America from late 1827 until the summer of 1831. Ronald D. Morrison undertakes the first ecocritical reading of this work focused on Trollope’s depiction of the American environment. While Trollope often includes reasonably objective descriptions of weather conditions, natural scenes, and developing urban environments typically found in much conventional travel literature, Morrison argues that the text might also be regarded as a variety of EcoGothic, utilized as a means of critiquing American democracy through what Trollope views as the grotesque physical environment of America—and by extension the cultural environment that Americans have created as well. Morrison asserts that approaching this text through the lens of the EcoGothic reveals how Trollope employs and modifies aesthetic, scientific, and imperial discourses for her own purposes in order to present a dystopian vision of America that in many respects comes to represent a kind of unofficial imperialism. For Trollope, some of the most devastating and disturbing effects of the horrific physical and cultural environments in America result in a fundamental blurring of racial and species distinctions. Moreover, for Trollope, this physical environment has a profoundly negative effect on the domestic realm, as evidenced by what she sees as the unrelentingly brutal lives of many American women and girls. Significantly, Trollope includes slaves and Native Americans in her consideration of the domestic realm and reveals them to be especially vulnerable to nightmarish American environments—both natural and created.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishMorehead State UniversityMoreheadUSA

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